A research article written by Nan Hui et al. has been published in Frontiers in Microbiology. The article is based on the fact that human activities typically lead to simplified urban diversity, which in turn reduces microbial exposure and increases the risk to urban dwellers from non-communicable diseases. The researchers developed a microbial inoculant from forest and agricultural materials that resembles microbiota in organic soils. Sand materials commonly used in playgrounds and other public spaces were enriched with the inoculant, and skin microbiota was compared after touching different sands. It was found out, for instance, that inoculant-enriched sand materials increased bacterial diversity and richness but did not affect evenness at the OTU level on skin. The relative abundance of opportunistic pathogens on skin was 40–50% before touching sand materials, but dropped to 14% and 4% after touching standard and inoculant-enriched sand materials, respectively. The authors conclude that microbial inoculants could be specifically created to increase the proportion of non-pathogenic bacterial taxa and minimize the transfer of pathogenic taxa.
Frontiers in Microbiology: Diverse Environmental Microbiota as a Tool to Augment Biodiversity in Urban Landscaping Materials