Reporters at the AAAS Conference Swab Their Cell Phones and Shoes for Science!

Sampling Reporters at AAAS

February 17th, 2012 – Vancouver, BC

Most members of the press attending the Earth Microbiome Project’s press briefing were surprised to learn that they would not just be communicating the project’s goals and findings to their audience, but instead would be actively participating in the EMP’s goal of sequencing life wherever it is found. In this case, on the reporters’ cell phones and shoes. Sampling kits containing swabs pre-moistened with saline solution were passed among the crowd of about 40, and most reporters were kind enough to indulge our interest in the microbes that quietly call us home.

These samples were quickly transferred to a waiting box of dry ice and shipped overnight back to Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, IL. Over the course of the next few days, DNA will be extracted from the bacteria collected on the swabs, followed by PCR amplification and DNA sequencing of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene that is commonly used for the identification of species. Stay tuned for results, which will be posted here shortly.

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Studying the microbes in our homes.