Swabbing Stadiums & Space Meetups

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How do bacteria differ across different types of surfaces in a building? And how do earth surfaces compare to those in space? Here on this planet, we’ll be collecting swab samples at sporting events, space meetups, and other public events across the USA. We’ll be sampling microbes that live on cell phones, shoes, and surfaces (keyboards, screens, railings etc.). Sampling is being done in collaboration with Jack Gilbert at the Earth Microbiome Project and the Science Cheerleaders who will be organizing and leading the sampling events.

Microbial Playoffs…in SPAAAAACE!

Photo courtesy Microbe World (Flickr)

How will microbes from YOUR favorite team perform in the space playoffs? At UC Davis, we’ll be growing microbes from samples collected at sporting events across the country. Microbes that impress us during their training camp on Earth will be drafted and blasted into orbit for a zero-gravity growth competition.  We’ll track what bacteria grow the fastest in space, and compare these stats to the microbial MVPs observed in the same growth competition on earth.

Space Station Microbiome

Photo courtesy NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (Flickr)

What kinds of bacteria lurk on the surfaces inside the International Space Station (ISS)? We’ll be asking astronauts to swab their space home and rocket these samples back to earth. Using DNA sequencing, we will be able to describe and compare microbial communities.