Extra Credit: Simon Lax

Simon Lax’s seminar was about microbiomes and the possibility of affiliating certain microbes to a specific person, like a fingerprint. Lax’s research on the importance of this “microbe fingerprint” came from both a forensic and health perspective. In a forensics type study, by comparing samples from someone’s shoe and the floor, Lax could essentially get an idea of who walked where. In a health study, Lax was able to see how microbes colonized in a hospital setting. Essentially, he could see how microbes in a room became more similar to the occupant over time. Further, he did a test of skin microbiomes and their relation to the patient’s diagnosis.

Our microbiology course made it clear to me that microbes are everywhere and essentially rule the world. However, I was unaware that microbes could be specific to a type of person and their environment. I always assumed microbes were random but it now makes sense that their being has some kind of order. This seminar related specifically to the lecture about viruses, specifically Norovirus, and how it is common on cruise ships. It makes sense such a segregated place such as a cruise ship would be prone to such outbreaks. A cruise ship is similar to one’s home which, as Lax pointed out, is a place where eventually everyone and most surfaces come to have similar microbes.