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Dogs and families share microorganisms

S. J. Song, C. Lauber, E. K. Costello, C. A. Lozupone, G. Humphrey, D. Berg-Lyons and others

COMMUNITIES of microorganisms found in the intestines of humans are determined by genetic relatedness, diet and age; they are also affected by their surroundings and those with whom they interact. However, little is known about the effect of cohabitation on the microbiota of other sites. This study investigated the exchange of microorganisms found on the skin, on the tongue and in the intestines of families.

Samples were taken from the faeces, skin and tongue of 60 families comprising spousal units, with or without children and with or without dogs.

Household members shared more microorganisms than individuals from different households, particularly in the case of skin microbiota. These patterns were also mimicked in the fur samples of cohabiting dogs. Dog-owning adults shared more skin microorganisms with their own dogs than with other dogs, and dog ownership significantly increased the extent of shared skin microbiota among cohabiting adults. This effect was only observed in adults, which the authors suggest could be due …

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