When you move from one house to another, you take all your bacteria with you. In fact, your family's microbiome (or your eco-system of inner and outer bacteria) lays claim to hotel rooms with hours. Our bacterial signatures are so persistent and so unique, a new study published Thursday in Science reports, that they could even be used in forensic investigations — and eventually become more useful to police than an old-fashioned fingerprint. And the same research that could track down a serial killer could also help you raise healthier kids.
In studying seven families as they moved from one house to another, the microbiologists had one major takeaway: Bacteria move from your body to your living space at incredible speed.
"Everyone thinks hotels are icky," said Jack Gilbert, corresponding author of the study and environmental microbiologist at Argonne National Laboratory, "but when one young couple we studied moved into a hotel, it was microbiologically identical to their home within 24 hours." And unpublished further research reveals that the time frame is even swifter than that. "No matter what you do to clean a hotel room," Gilbert said, "your microbial signal has wiped out basically every trace of the previous resident within hours."
What's more, the researchers were able to determine how much individuals in a family interacted, what rooms they used, and even when they'd last been to one part of the house or another. This has obvious applications in forensic science. "We could go all J. Edgar Hoover on this and make a database of microbial fingerprints of people all over the world," Gilbert said, "and it's far more sophisticated than a standard fingerprint, which is just a presence or absence indication. We can see who they are, where they're from, the diet they're eating, when they left, who they may have been interacting with. It gets pretty crazy."
Gilbert and his colleagues are already working with police in Hawaii, hoping to look at the microbiome left on dead bodies. "If someone is, shall we say, recently and inappropriately deceased," Gilbert said, "we can look at their bacterial colonies and try to identify who the last person to come into contact with them was, and when." Based on some promising animal studies, he said, it could be possible. "An actual fingerprint is rarely left on a body," Gilbert said, "but a microbial fingerprint certainly is."
The Home Microbiome Study has more immediate applications, too. Gilbert, a father of two, hopes that fellow parents will use these and future findings to raise their offspring in healthier microbiomes. Before the age of two, the human microbiome remains in flux. Different species of bacteria compete to gain permanent spots — and once the race is run, you're basically stuck with the winners. R
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> "No matter what you do to clean a hotel room," Gilbert said, "your microbial signal has wiped out basically every trace of the previous resident within hours."
That's a relief. Taking a little bit of home with me on the road.
I really need to keep this in mind, I'm still working on my OCD.
>Memories, generally speaking, can be good, bad, or neutral. And now, they can be changed from good to bad, and vice versa, from within the brain—in genetically engineered mice, at least.
>Researchers at MIT have discovered which parts of the brain store the "emotional" part of a memory, and, in their latest study, published in Nature, were able to flip the emotional valence of a memory using light that targets specific neurons within the brain.
>To do this, they used a method known as optogenetics, in which modified neurons can be manipulated with light. In this study, the mice's brains were genetically modified so that when a certain antibiotic was removed from their diet, a light-sensitive protein was expressed in the brain, which allowed the researchers to watch memories being formed in the amygdala and the hippocampus.
>"In the brain, there exists two competing neurocircuits—one involved in negative memories, and one involved in positive memories," Susumu Tonegawa, one of the researchers, said in a conference call with media. "We found that the competition of these circuits dictate the overall emotional value … and that we can switch a mouse's memory valence from negative to positive and from positive to negative."
>In an accompanying paper analyzing the findings, Tomonori Takeuchi and Richard Morris of the University of Edinburgh wrote that "light is used to selectively reactivate the representation of the 'where' component of a memory and then change its 'what' association."
>In other words, as Tonegawa explained, you could take a person who has been mugged in a dark alley and, without returning them to the alley or recreating the experience at all, can reprogram the way they feel about that experience.
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So what they're saying is someone can be brainwashed to view a memory of rape, or the new world order taking over the white house, as a positive thing?
In a long, roundabout way, yes. But this research hinges upon the
>mice's brains were genetically modified so that when a certain antibiotic was removed from their diet, a light-sensitive protein was expressed in the brain
This approach isn't possible in humans as we naturally occur, not to mention
>optogenetics, in which modified neurons can be manipulated with light.
the light has to be physically present in the brain, or at least the skull, in order to manipulate the memories.
So... long ways off from being useful, practical, or even possible without genetic modifications.
Gene therapy maybe?
>the light has to be physically present in the brain
Use wavelengths of EM radiation that pass through the skull.
To get wavelengths energetic enough to pentrate the skull, fluids, and membranes surrounding the brain reliably without loss or distortion, youd be high enough power where cookig the brain is an issue. And even then you'd be well outside any part of the visible light spectrum, meaning the proteins wouldnt respond.
Gene therapy could do it, but tailoring it to someone later in life wouout inducing the plaques and proteins which are associated with CJD, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's would be extremely difficult without monitoring everything a person eats or drinks everyday, neuroactive chemicals they come in contact with in the environment, job or home, etc, medications they take. gene therapy to force your body to produce something like the proteins needed is really a nightmare for current neurobiological and neuromedical medecine in humans.
>when a certain antibiotic was removed from their diet
That WAS gene therapy. They used a bacterium modified to spread the genetic payload.
Use this fact to delight and amuse your friends :)
And yes this is TOTALLY science related. Totally.