December 16, 2019

Alexander McCumber (Duke University)

Environmental Microbial Exposure Shapes the Gut and Lung Microbiomes

Fall 2019 Graduate Student Award in Pathogenic and Commensal Organisms

Over the past 50 years humans have rapidly moved from rural to urban areas and are now spending most of their time indoors. With this migration we are no longer in contact with bacteria known to be important to our health. Recent research has shown that urbanization is associated with decreased gut microbiome diversity and is associated with higher rates of diseases like asthma and food allergy. However, there have been no studies to date that consider how this change in exposure to lower levels of bacterial diversity within the environment is reflected in differences in diversity in the gut and lung microbiomes. This study aims to provide insight into how changing the environment through urbanization may be influencing gut and lung microbiome composition.