Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Microbiome of the built environment

The ecology of the Microbiome of the built environment

In the past few years, novel work has characterized the microbiota and metagenome of urban environments and transit systems and demonstrated species specificity to certain areas of a city, “molecular echoes” of environmental events, and even a forensic capacity for geospatial metagenomic data. These data are especially helpful for understanding the sites of greatest points of contact between humans and the microbial world within cities, such as their subways or mass-transit systems. How humans interact with (or acquire) new species of bacteria and other organisms depends on the environment they transit, the types of surfaces they touch, and the physical dynamics of their environment in their city.

The Metagenomics and Metadesign of the Subways and Urban Biomes (MetaSUB) International Consortium of nearly 100 cities around the world

A dark map of the world with different sized rings in lighter colours above cities. An illustration. 

MetaSUB is a novel, interdisciplinary initiative comprised of experts across many fields, including genomics, data analysis, engineering, public health, and architecture. The ultimate goal of the MetaSUB Consortium is to improve city utilization and planning through the detection, measurement, and design of metagenomics within urban environments.

As the data analytical center the MetaSUB we attempt to understand the diversity and organization of the microbiome in the built environment (cities, bus stations, trains, and offices) and develop hypothesis concerning their effect on our health and wellbeing. We are also interested in new questions concerning the ethics of research in the field.


  1. The MetaSUB International Consortium: The Metagenomics and Metadesign of the Subways and Urban Biomes (MetaSUB) International Consortium inaugural meeting report. Microbiome 2016, 4(1):24.
  2. Shamarina D, Stoyantcheva I, Mason CE, Bibby K, Elhaik E: Communicating the promise, risks, and ethics of large-scale, open space microbiome and metagenome research. Microbiome 2017, 5(1):132.
  3. Danko DC, Bezdan D, Afshinnekoo E, Ahsanuddin S, Alicea J, Bhattacharya C, Bhattacharyya M, Blekhman R, Butler DJ, Castro-Nallar E et al: Global Genetic Cartography of Urban Metagenomes and Anti-Microbial Resistance. bioRxiv 2019:724526.
Page Manager:

People involved