University of Puerto Rico

To examine the microbiomes of homes across cultures

  • Amount $600,000
  • City San Juan, PR
  • Investigator Maria Dominguez-Bello
  • Year 2012
  • Program Science
  • Sub-program Microbiology of the Built Environment

We know there are microbes in homes. We know there are microbes in and on people. Are the microbes of homes and their inhabitants the same? Funds from this grant support a two-year project by microbiologist Maria Gloria DomđŻnguez-Bello, architect Humberto Cavallin, and colleagues at the University of Puerto Rico to collect and analyze microbial samples from homes and their inhabitants in a variety of cultural settings. The team plans to collect samples from traditional dwellings in remote villages in the Amazon as well as more modern rural and urban homes in New York City and South America. The homes in the Amazon villages are round huts constructed of natural materials without windows, closets, or furniture. The inhabitants of these homes have had very little exposure to modern life. The rural homes are far more advanced. They have two or three bedrooms and electricity, but do not necessarily have running water. Each room has a door and window with modest furniture and natural or forced ventilation using fans but no air conditioning. The urban homes are the most advanced and generally have air conditioning. In each home, the team will collect and analyze samples from the home as well as from the human and animal inhabitants. This project promises to generate important new knowledge about the microbiology of homes across cultures as well as shed some light on the relationship between the microbiomes of the home and its inhabitants.

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