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Public bathroom bacteria uncovered, thanks to gene sequencing

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We all know public bathrooms are lousy with bacteria, but what kind are they, and how did they get there? A study released Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE uses gene sequencing to find out exactly what germs lurk in public restrooms and where they came from. And after reading this, you are definitely going to want to wash your hands. A few times.

Researchers used high-throughput genetic sequencing to detect bacteria on 10 different surfaces in 12 men's and women's bathrooms on a college campus. Those surfaces included door, toilet and faucet handles, soap dispensers, toilet seats and various areas of the floor. The sequencing process used allows scientists to create up to millions of sequences at the same time.

Nineteen bacterial phyla were identified. Most belonged to four phyla: Actinobacteria, Bacteriodetes, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. Scientists were able to get an average of 3,340 gene sequences per sample.
 
 

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