Office bacteria all around us, especially in men's offices

May 30, 2012

Men's offices have significantly more bacteria than women's, and the office bacterial communities of New York and San Francisco are indistinguishable, according to a study published May 30 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

"Humans are spending an increasing amount of time indoors, yet we know little about the diversity of bacteria and viruses where we live, work and play," remarks Dr. Scott Kelley, lead author on the study. "This study provides detailed baseline information about the rich in typical office settings and insight into the sources of these organisms."

The report includes the characterization of bacterial identity and abundance in offices in New York, San Francisco, and Tucson. The researchers, led by Scott Kelley of University of California, San Diego, identified more than 500 bacterial genera in offices in the three cities, the most abundant of which tended to come from or the nasal, oral, or intestinal . They also found that chairs and phones had a high abundance of bacteria, while the abundance on the desktop, keyboard, and mouse was somewhat lower.

They also found that offices inhabited by men had a higher bacterial abundance than women's, but the diversity of the communities didn't show any significant differences.

Explore further: Tarantula toxin is used to report on electrical activity in live cells

More information: Hewitt KM, Gerba CP, Maxwell SL, Kelley ST (2012) Office Space Bacterial Abundance and Diversity in Three Metropolitan Areas. PLoS ONE 7(5): e37849. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037849

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