What’s Going on With Our Phones?

Title: Scientists Discover 3 New Species of Microbes Growing on Mobile Phones

Source: Press Trust of India from Gadgets

Date: March 6, 2017


Summary: A lot of people have their cell phones attached to their hands wherever they go, but what researchers have recently found is that phones are starting to become a home for a diverse array of microbes. In the midst of their research, scientists came across three new species of bacteria, as well as one new species of fungi. Not only that, but the researchers found that people’s phones contain more species of microbes than what they found on toilet seats. On the plus side, these scientists found that from the phones that they sampled, there were no dangerous bacteria species.

Connections: The microbial world is extremely diverse between the different species of bacteria, fungi, and archaea. Bacteria and fungi can flourish in any place that provides them with the optimal growing conditions, like temperature or amount of light. We have briefly explored how diverse the Bacteria domain is, as well as discussed different types of environmental conditions that assist with the growth and survival of bacteria based on their composition.

Critical Analysis: Reading through this article, I was surprised about how many species of bacteria and fungi grew on the surfaces of our phones. Not only that, but the fact that the researchers behind this study discovered 3 new species of bacteria and 1 new fungal species just further proves how diverse microbes can be. The article presented the findings from the study that would stand out and catch the audience’s attention, so I feel as though the article was scientifically accurate, even briefly including some of the methods used to obtain samples. The author even pointed out where the researchers could enhance the study by taking samples from phones that belong to those who work in the medical field. This article was easy to read and was written in a way that was somewhat entertaining and attention grabbing, which helps the audience stay interested in the material presented. I also liked how I was expecting the article to be all doom-and-gloom, but the authors had a positive tone.

Question: How would the microbial diversity be on phones that were sampled from people that work in healthcare locations, like a hospital? Would there be deadly bacterial strains and would this effect the sterility of an environment that is supposed to be completely sterile?

2 Comments for “What’s Going on With Our Phones?”



I agree with your analysis of this article. It was written succinctly and outlined the research well. I like that the researchers named the one of the new bacteria they found, “Microbacterium telephonicum”. It was also nice that the article not only reported on the research but also presented how this topic relates to society on a larger scale and suggested how to prevent such diverse micobiomes from growing on our phones.

I actually found the paper concerning smartphones of healthcare workers and microbes that was referenced in the article. It concluded that smartphones are indeed an issue in spreading pathogens. In fact, 53% of the contaminants found were drug-resistant S. aureus. While it is possible that this strain of bacteria could be on anyones phone I think it has increased potential in a hospital environment. I hope that healthcare workers regularly clean their phones if they do use them during work.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4332273/ (Paper about the microbes found on phones in health care)



I honestly I can’t say I am surprised with the results of this study. Our hands come in contact with a variety of microbes on a daily basis and they often travel with us. I really appreciated how this article not only focused on the scientific findings of this study, but also related it to society. People often underestimate the power of microbes and their abundance on surfaces we come in contact with daily. In regards to your first question, I do feel that there would be much variation in the microbial growth and diversity sampled from phones of staff that work in healthcare-related environments, especially in a hospital. With the number of sick patients that enter each day, they are more than likely going to “pick up” microbes present in the air.