Another new Sloan-funded project in the microbiology of the built environment called “To analyze and model the establishment of microbial communities over time on different office surface materials in different climates”. This project is being undertaken by Greg Caporaso at Northern Arizona University.
Full description below: The goal of this project is to understand successional patterns in the establishment of fungal and bacterial communities in the indoor environment, specifically investigating the role of climate and surface material on the establishment of microbial communities on common office-building materials. Two primary endpoints provide the motivation for this study. First, our study will elucidate the conditions that affect the establishment of microorganisms on office-surfaces toward the goal of developing predictive models of what microbes will establish on different surface materials in different climates. This information could ultimately be applied to make decisions about what materials should or should not be used for building in certain climates to avoid the establishment of microbial communities which may pose human health or biodegradation risks. Second, we aim to understand the time-scale on which microbial communities establish and change in the indoor environment. This information is critical as we continue to move toward real-time monitoring of indoor microbial communities: to develop early warning systems of human health or biodegradation indicators it is critical to know how often to sample, and whether different materials, or the same material in different climates, must be sampled at different frequencies.
To address these overarching goals, we will systematically investigate
the ability of bacteria and fungi to colonize some of the most
widely-used building materials (ceiling tile, carpet tile, and
fiberboard), across climates and time. These materials will be
obtained from the same source, sterilized, and shipped to offices in
three different North American cities for installation in multiple
locations in each office. Each specimen will then be sampled for a
six-week period four times over the course of a year to monitor the
establishment of microbial communities in indoor environments, the
change in microbial community composition and dynamics over the time
course, and seasonal differences in community composition and
dynamics. In the first sampling period, sampling will be conducted
every two days and the resulting data will be used to inform the
frequency of sampling in future sampling periods. We will use existing
software, data resources, and standards, such as QIIME, MoBEDAC,
MIMARKS, and FungiDB, as appropriate to maximize the reusability of
these results and avoid duplicated efforts.