Home chemical and microbial transitions across urbanization

Laura Isobel McCall, Chris Callewaert, Qiyun Zhu, Se Jin Song, Amina Bouslimani, Jeremiah J. Minich, Madeleine Ernst, Jean F. Ruiz-Calderon, Humberto Cavallin, Henrique S. Pereira, Atila Novoselac, Jean Hernandez, Rafael Rios, Ora Lee H. Branch, Martin J. Blaser, Luciana C. Paulino, Pieter C. Dorrestein, Rob Knight, Maria G. Dominguez-Bello

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Urbanization represents a profound shift in human behaviour, and has considerable cultural and health-associated consequences1,2. Here, we investigate chemical and microbial characteristics of houses and their human occupants across an urbanization gradient in the Amazon rainforest, from a remote Peruvian Amerindian village to the Brazilian city of Manaus. Urbanization was found to be associated with reduced microbial outdoor exposure, increased contact with housing materials, antimicrobials and cleaning products, and increased exposure to chemical diversity. The degree of urbanization correlated with changes in the composition of house bacterial and microeukaryotic communities, increased house and skin fungal diversity, and an increase in the relative abundance of human skin-associated fungi and bacteria in houses. Overall, our results indicate that urbanization has large-scale effects on chemical and microbial exposures and on the human microbiota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
JournalNature Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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