Microbial Politics

20160401_101408Recent studies suggesting that we each have our own microbiome fingerprints  and studies of the microbiome’s potential to influence our behavior have prompted a group of scientists at OneF Pharma to investigate the utility of microbiome fingerprints for determining personality traits. “Imagine the potential,” says Jody Smith, a researcher for the company, “crime scenes, job personality tests, even – as we demonstrate – politics.”

Their most recent paper published in PLOS-BS, shows how the microbes detected in fingerprints collected by scientists from podiums following recent political debates can be used to identify specific politicians. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, for example leaves behind prints filled with bacteria like Staphylococcus epidermidis a species that tend towards mutualism – or win-win for both bacterial host and human host; while Donald Trump’s microbiome are lighter on the mutualistic bacteria, dominated instead by species like Stahpylococcus aurelius, which can cause superinfections, spreading at the expense of the host’s microbiome.

“These are really just superficial tests,” cautions Smith, “because these are skin bacteria. Those that influence behavior are gut bacteria. But we are working on that too – collecting samples from cutlery and drinking cups used at the debates.”

[Correction: There is no evidence that Donald Trump’s microbiome is loaded more offensive Staph compared with Bernie Sanders and vice-verse. Happy April Fools! ]

 

 

 

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