Men shed more bacteria into their surroundings than women do, studies have shown. Now scientists have found that men and women have different effects on the variety of bacteria inside a home, too. The variation comes down to skin biology and “perhaps to body size and hygiene practices,” note researchers who sequenced the genes in dust that had settled on the tops of doors in 1,200 homes across the U.S. Dogs apparently alter indoor bacteria more extensively than humans or cats. The bacterial signatures of each of these living beings are unique enough that by simply testing dust in a home, investigators can accurately predict if more women or men live there and if dogs or cats do as well.
This article was originally published with the title "The Bacteria Game" in Scientific American 313, 6, 84 (December 2015)