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Bioinformed design: pre-selecting germs in our environment

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Posted December 12, 2014

“Everything is covered in invisible ecosystems made of tiny lifeforms: bacteria, viruses and fungi. Our desks, our computers, our pencils, our buildings all harbor resident microbial landscapes.”

Jessica Green argues we should not only be aware of our microscopic counterparts, but adapt our designs (buildings, tools or anything else for that matter) in due consideration.

microbial contamination

Green’s research shows microbes form distinct ecosystems in buildings, which have been designed in a certain way. For example, neighboring office spaces or joint air handing units tend to have very similar biomes, while those in remote parts of the building are fundamentally different. By understanding how microbes spread and interact with us, architects or designers could apply the principles of ecology in their projects too.

Bioinformed design would thus help to select the microbes we want in our environment, or limit the spread of harmful pathogens. What if we could reduce the rate of hospital acquired infections this way? Design a probiotic environment on a plane to make a long journey more comfortable? Seed our phones with microbes that freshen our breaths..?

Written by Eglė Marija Ramanauskaitė

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