Moving from commensalism to mutualism: not microbes, but the people who study them

Nice editorial in Indoor Air from Brent Stephen, Rachel Adams, Seema Bhangar, Kyle Bibby and Michael Waring: From commensalism to mutualism: integrating the microbial ecology, building science, and indoor air communities to advance research on the indoor microbiome.

In it they present what they view as key findings from recent studies of microbiology of the buiolt / indoor environment.  And they also discuss findings from a workshop that was help in 2014 on “Building science to advance research in the microbiology of the built environment“.

They have separately summarized the workshop and here present some key findings including key goals for the community:

  • Increase the use and/or development quantitative metrics
  • “Conduct longitudinal intervention and controlled environment studies that focus on fundamental processes familiar to those in the indoor air sciences”
  • “Engage a broader funding base.”

They also emphasize the following needs:

  • “Continue and enhance efforts to communicate and transfer knowledge between microbiology and building science communities, and begin integrating health scientists into the research agenda.”
  • “Continue efforts to improve standardization and evaluation of sampling methods.”
  • “Explore connections between indoor microbiology and chemistry.”


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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.