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Shopping Mall’s Microbiome Reflects Its Customers

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Shopping Mall's Microbiome Reflects Its Customers

(CTN News) – Microbiome : Shopping malls are popular for a variety of reasons. The only thing they leave behind is money, and the only thing they take home is shopping bags.

Microbes from people passing through shopping malls accumulate on floors, escalators, and other surfaces of the malls.

There is a large fraction of potential pathogens in the mall microbiome, especially inside the building, suggesting disease could spread through surface-to-surface contact.

Xin-Li An, Ph.D., from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Urban Environment (IUE), in Xiamen, said mall surfaces are pathways through which microbes move between mall areas.

At the same institute, she collaborated with Jian-Xin Xu, Ph.D. According to her, exposure to the mall microbiome may alter the trajectory of health by exposing people to pathogens.

In a mall, pathogens can spread not just from person-to-person, but also from surface-to-surface or individual-to-individual contact.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers in China reported various outbreaks of the virus in shopping malls.

An and her colleagues began thinking about malls’ role in spreading pathogens in general after reading those reports.

A shopping mall could spread microbial contamination, An said.

During spring and summer 2022, researchers collected samples from 20 shopping malls in Xiamen, China, as well as from their immediate surroundings, including greenbelt soils and road dust.

For bacterial identification, 16s rRNA sequencing was used, and ITS amplification was used for fungal identification. A mall floor had the highest bacterial species richness, followed by an escalator, then road dust, then greenbelt soil.

In the interior environments, the concentrations of human pathogens, as well as genes associated with antimicrobial resistance, were higher than in the outdoor environments.

The dominant species varied by season. While microbiomes varied from mall to mall and season to season, most of the 274 samples shared a core microbial community. Potential pathogens were associated with most of those microbes.

Many nosocomial infections are caused by Gram-negative bacteria called Acinetobacter baumannii.

It also contained Kocuria kristinae, a Gram-positive bacteria that lives on the skin and can lead to infections in patients with compromised immune systems.

Also included in the core community was Cladosprorium, a kind of mold that can cause allergies and, in some cases, infections.

The study of human pathogens in urban environments is a focus of An’s work at the IUE. Wet markets, wastewater treatment plants, and farms are also part of those environments.

Understanding the mall’s microbiome is an imperative part of keeping an eye on potential public health threats. Next, we’ll collect more data on how a mall microbiome changes over time and space, and look for more commonalities.

The new study suggests another way to study microbial exposures through breathing, An added. A future study will examine the mall’s air microbiome.

How can I improve my microbiome?

Below, we have compiled a list of ways you can ensure that you have a happy and healthy microbiome!
  1. Make sure to eat your vegetables! …
  2. Cut out sugar and avoid processed foods. …
  3. Probiotics are great for your gut. …
  4. Avoid Antibiotics. …
  5. Stock up on dietary sources of prebiotics. …
  6. Fermented Foods are gut-friendly.

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