Ever wonder what kinds of bacteria cozy up next to you on public transportation? What—you'd rather not think about it?
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College spent a dedicated 18 months swabbing New York's entire subway system. DNA on turnstiles, train floors, seats, handrails, and everything in between were checked for microorganisms, in the hopes of gaining insight into the microbiome within the subway system.
And (drumroll please) . . . about 48% of the DNA could not be identified. Probably because scientists don't know the genetic makeup of all living organisms (yet). On the other hand, 47% was identified as bacteria from a variety of sources, including food, pets, and plants.
Don't worry, though: Dr. Christopher Mason has assured concerned New Yorkers that the bacteria is harmless.Theoretically, you could even lick the poles and be fine! (Not that you should, that's weird.)
Of the genetic material unearthed from 15,152 species, here's what researchers did identify:
- Mozzarella cheese (lots of it—pizza is, after all, very popular in the city)
- Swiss cheese
- Kimchi (So far, YUM!)
- Antibiotics (Oh . . . )
- Staph infections
- Heart valve infections
- Radiation resistance
- E. coli (researchers noted that many instances of E. coli are benign)
And so much more . . .
Image: 'Sup, New York? Courtesy of, ThinkStock