Using City Sewage to Survey a City's Microbiome

The team gathered samples over the course of a year from sewage treatment plants in 71 different cities in 31 states, chosen for their geographic spread and range of obesity rates. The leanest city sampled was Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with an obesity rate of 13.5 percent, while the heaviest was St. Joseph, Missouri, with a rate of 37.4 percent.

Bacteria from human waste make up just a small proportion of the bacteria found in sewage. But using DNA sequencing, the researchers could identify genetic markers for most of the types of bacteria found in human feces in their samples. By comparing samples from the different cities, they identified a core group of bacterial families that the U.S. population seems to have in common.

After they compared how the proportions of human bacteria varied between cities, McLellan said they were able to see patterns that tracked characteristics like obesity with surprising accuracy. Using just the bacteria's genetic traces they were able to predict whether a city was lean or obese with almost 90 percent accuracy.


Folksonomies: bacteria public health

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Sewage treatment (0.989300): dbpedia | freebase | yago
DNA (0.916449): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
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Bacteria (0.784981): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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Gut flora (0.639481): dbpedia | freebase | yago
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 Urban 'microbiome' can offer glimpses into disease trends.
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Owens, Brian (Mar 6 2015), Urban 'microbiome' can offer glimpses into disease trends., Retrieved on 2015-03-07
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: bacteria public health