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Medicine Science

Lovers Share Colonies of Skin Microbes, Study Finds (metro.co.uk) 93

Aneri Pattani reports via The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternate source): Couples who live together share a lot of things: beds, bathrooms, food, toiletries. But one thing they might not expect to share? Skin bacteria. In a study published Thursday in mSystems, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, researchers studied the skin microbiomes of 10 sexually active, heterosexual couples living together. A microbiome is a mini-ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms living on and in the body. Each square centimeter of skin hosts between one million and one billion microorganisms, according to the study. After analyzing 330 skin swabs collected from 17 parts of the body on each participant, the researchers found that each person significantly influenced the microbial communities on a lover's skin. In fact, computer algorithms relying on microbial data were able to accurately match couples with up to 86 percent accuracy.
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Lovers Share Colonies of Skin Microbes, Study Finds

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  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @11:41PM (#54945043)
    If you want to avoid another person's microbes, don't touch their keyboard or mouse.
  • I can just see it now if one spouse is accused of cheating. "We want to get a skin swab to check the microbiome." I wonder if the microbiomes of all three people would become similar.
    • Would be interesting if they all worked for the same employer, and at least one of them was a microbiologist and surreptitiously got samples from the suspected third party.
  • by Zontar The Mindless ( 9002 ) <plasticfish DOT info AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 05, 2017 @12:27AM (#54945145) Homepage

    ...if this *weren't* the case.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Yes, but this is about getting a quantity instead of the trend that's been known for years. It's even a major plot point in a novel I've been reading that came out in 2012.
    • Agreed. With regular contact, you'd expect this sort of thing, particularly if they're also sharing a bed for sleeping in addition to coupling.

    • Anyone with a modicum of intelligence would simply understand this. A waste of money.

      Hint to researchers: You'll share your follicle mites as well. Jeez.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Do you know what going only by "common sense" gets you? Aristotle's theory of Impetus instead of Newtonian momentum. It is important to actually check your theories. Otherwise even smart people can go completely wrong if they refuse to calibrate their theories to reality.

        Captcha: informed

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Dude for the simple minded. Understanding the biome that infects us all, it's impact, postive and negative, is essential to future health, as is how it spreads and changes and when it becomes a threat and even weirder when you should actually have a more healthy one that suits your genetics, actually smeared all over you. There is the variety, what it constitutes, why it is unhealthy or just as importantly healthy, what trace elements are produced that are worthwhile, what worthwhile functions are exhibited

      • You have a depressing lack of curiosity about the world. I'm glad there are people who are curious and learning how things work!
    • ...if this *weren't* the case.

      The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that, "What doesn't kill you . . . makes you stronger!" So I think he was talking about this effect.

      . . . and that was the whole point behind that apocryphal 70's CSI sex game known as "Rubik's Pubes", but the popularity of that game has waned, since folks don't have any pubic hair any more.

    • Indeed.

      The question in TFS seems ... just ... incredible :

      But one thing they might not expect to share? Skin bacteria.

      I can't see how someone with even the slightest knowledge of anatomy and animal behaviour (includes hoomins) could actually write such garbage with a straight face. Contact transfers material - first rule of forensics (so basic, it might even get mentioned in the intro of one of those dozens of American forensics cop shows, though the actual principal goes back to a mid-19th Century Frenc

  • How fast? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Saturday August 05, 2017 @12:44AM (#54945179) Homepage
    I wonder how fast this happens. Could some sort of "infidelity testing service" spring up out of this research?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      iBiome has detected a 43% change in your wifes skin biome.

      would you like to see a list of divorce lawyers in your area?

    • No need for a service. Just use your nose. Black people even wrote a song about it called "Smell Yo' Dick". Google it.

      But there is a pretty easy way around it I've been employing for years each time after I have sex with a prostitute. All you have to to is get a dirty pair of your wife's underwear out of the laundry, or snag a tampon out of the bathroom trash.

      After you have sex with the prostitute and get back home, moderately moisten your chosen item with a spray bottle of lukewarm water and just littl

    • It used to be here for ages. It is called STDs. Well, it doesn't cover all of the microbiome, but still works.
  • I'm surprised it's so low.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      most of society will share the same major organisms. And places like schools, and malls, will lend to less alpha-diversity.
      There are also only so many particular substances that are benign enough to not trigger an immune reaction (from body, or other microroganisms), and correspondingly equilavent statis levels.

      I would wager that there is lower per-person diversity, vs diversity within the colonies (lowering alpha-, increasing beta- diversity).
      And that it's very region specific (social networks, and general

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      There are lots of cheaters? Some people spend more time at work than home?
  • Couples who live together share a lot of things: beds, bathrooms, food, toiletries. But one thing they might not expect to share? Skin bacteria.

    Says who? Why wouldn't they expect that? Everyone knows you already share all sorts of bacteria and viruses and whatnot with whoever you live with, so you tend to get sick at the same time and you tend to be resistant to the same sicknesses and all that -- it's fucking common sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Germs of endearment.

  • cooties are real

  • Well duh. They touch eachother
  • Research soon to be cited in various divorce cases :)
  • by kubajz ( 964091 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @03:39AM (#54945479)
    It is known that gut microbes have a lot of influence on physiology including mood. I wonder if these skin microbes also influence some things in their host in some way... could help explain why long-term couples are alike in a number of things that are not necessarily habits.
  • Every woman I've ever lived with my dick starts to smell like her pussy and vice versa after a few months. I just assumed this was common fucking knowledge? Can I please get some of this grant money they are wasting on this idiotic crap?

  • Finally, a pickup line for the upcoming dermatologist convention!
  • Honestly, I had a girlfriend I was "allergic" to. I had an itch between my fingers I couldn't get rid of it. We found later without a doubt it was her.

    • besides perfumes, soaps and lotions there are many foods that cause various substances to be in skin oils and other secretions. It is much more likely you were allergic to something like that

      • besides perfumes, soaps and lotions there are many foods that cause various substances to be in skin oils and other secretions. It is much more likely you were allergic to something like that

        Can't answer just something she wore, secreted, or carried (Dem dere microbes) the entire time we were together.

        • besides perfumes, soaps and lotions there are many foods that cause various substances to be in skin oils and other secretions. It is much more likely you were allergic to something like that

          Can't answer just something she wore, secreted, or carried (Dem dere microbes) the entire time we were together.

          I was "allergic" to her.

          See how much shorter that was.

  • "A microbiome is a mini-ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms living on and..."

    'other microorganisms' ?? How many other types of microorganisms are there..?

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal

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