Left: Heba Shabaan, a third-year medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College and Dr. Christopher Mason prepare to swab for microbes in the NYC subway system on June 21, 2020. Right: Subway turnstile being swabbed.
About 12,000 bacteria and viruses collected in a sampling from public transit systems and hospitals around the world from 2015 to 2017 had never before been identified, according to a study by the International MetaSUB Consortium, a global effort at tracking microbes that is led by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators.
For the study, published on May 26, 2021, in the journal Cell, international investigators collected nearly 5,000 samples over a three-year period across 60 cities in 32 countries and six continents. The investigators analyzed the samples using a genomic sequencing technique called shotgun sequencing to detect the presence of various microbes, including bacteria, archaea (single-celled organisms that are distinct from bacteria), and viruses that use DNA as their genetic material. (Other types of viruses that use RNA as their genetic material, such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, would not have been detected with the DNA analysis methods used in this pre-pandemic study.)
This field of research has important implications for detecting outbreaks of both known and unknown infections and for studying the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant microbes in different urban environments.Continue reading… “Study Across 60 Cities in 32 Countries and Six Continents Reveals: New Species Are All Around Us!”