Finding out if plant microbes transfer onto human skin over a 12mth study of high-rise apartment dwellers (and writing a thesis).
Finding out if plant microbes transfer onto human skin over a 12mth study of high-rise apartment dwellers (and writing a thesis). Read more
There was a much larger, more diverse human microbiota (bacteria on and in our bodies) in and on our human ancestors in comparison to humans of today living in urban environments. The links between high density living, the natural environment and microbial health and human immunology have not been established, though chronic diseases are rapidly increasing and our natural environment is decreasing due to industrial development. The exploration of these impacts on skin microbiota (bacteria on our skin) as one expression of this relationship has only just begun to be researched. The proposed study will investigate the relationships between a) high rise apartment residents, the natural environment and stress; b) the natural environment and the biodiversity of the human skin microbiota; and c) the human skin microbiota in relation to stress. Singles and couples living in high rise apartment buildings (without plants) will randomly be given three to six real or artificial potted plants and tested for stress levels, lifestyle habits and skin bacterial communities. The study will take place over a 12-month period, and involve testing before, during and after the intervention. Individual questionnaires given to each participant will investigate additional relevant health and lifestyle information which may affect the results. This study presents the opportunity to focus on exploring direct links between the natural environment and skin microbiota. With a causal link, health benefits and cost savings may be found, and new environmental policies could be encouraged to benefit high-rise apartment residents. This research project is being undertaken as part of the requirements of a PhD at Edith Cowan University.
Here is a video of my 3minute thesis.
Risks and challenges
I have overcome the challenge of obtaining confirmation of candidature which includes ethics approval, the next challenge is participant interest. I need a minimum of 66 singles or couples in apartment buildings less than 5yrs old. I have developed a comprehensive lifestyle survey (to address any confounding factors) which has been tested. The next step after recruiting is a pilot study of 5 participants to ensure skin swabs are analysed correctly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)