A research article on the effects of short‐time contact with nature‐based materials has been published in MicrobiologyOpen. The article written by Mira Grönroos et al. is based on the fact that immune‐mediated diseases have increased during the last decades in urban environments. The hygiene hypothesis suggests that increased hygiene level and reduced contacts with natural biodiversity are related to the increase in immune‐mediated diseases. The researchers tested whether short‐time contact with microbiologically diverse nature‐based materials immediately change bacterial diversity on human skin. They tested direct skin contact, as two volunteers rubbed their hands with sixteen soil and plant based materials, and an exposure via fabric packets filled with moss material. Next‐generation sequencing showed that exposures increased, at least temporarily, the total diversity of skin microbiota and the diversity of Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria and Alpha‐, Beta‐ and Gammaproteobacteria suggesting that contact with nature‐based materials modify skin microbiome and increase skin microbial diversity. Until now, approaches to cure or prevent immune system disorders using microbe‐based treatments have been limited to use of a few microbial species. The researchers propose that nature‐based materials with high natural diversity, such as the materials tested here, might be more effective in modifying human skin microbiome, and eventually, in reducing immune system disorders. Future studies should investigate how long‐term changes in skin microbiota are achieved and if the exposure induces beneficial changes in the immune system markers.
MicrobiologyOpen: Short‐term direct contact with soil and plant materials leads to an immediate increase in diversity of skin microbiota