The urban jungle may have even more fungi and bacteria than the jungle itself.
These are the surprising findings of scientists who have taken samples from all sorts of environments, ranging from city dwellers to mud huts in the Brazilian rainforest.
The large amount of fungi in the homes of people living in cities is remarkable in view of the fact that people use more cleaning and antifungal products than ever before.
The findings are published in Nature Microbiology and can provide clues as to why residents of urban areas often turn out to be susceptible to higher percentages of certain health problems that can be properly linked to the presence of microbes.
Researchers found city homes full of industrial chemicals, cleaning agents and molds that love warm, dark surfaces, while jungle huts had cooler air, more sunlight and natural materials (file photo)
The researchers compared microscopic material in houses and the bodies of people with cotton buds from different environments
Half of the world's population lives in cities and while such urban living usually means that there are fewer infectious diseases, other health problems come to the fore, including increased rates of asthma, allergies and obesity.
The scientists involved in the research came from various universities and included chemists, microbiologists and even architects.
The team was able to take cotton swabs from a whole range of living conditions.
The researchers took cotton buds from the jungle, the countryside, the city and the townhouses in South America.
The most remote location was a village in the Amazon, while the urban monsters came from Manaus, Brazil.
Other homes were a Peruvian rural town with wooden houses that had no indoor plumbing; a Peruvian city with 400,000 inhabitants with more modern facilities; and the metropolis of Manaus, Brazil, where two million people live.
People, pets, and the surfaces in their homes were all cleaned to collect a sample of any bacteria or fungi present.
& # 39; Looking at differences in the microbiology of their homes can help explain these differences and guide new therapies & # 39 ;, wrote co-author Rob Knight, professor and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California, San Diego .
The scientists noted that how & # 39; more urban & # 39; a house, the greater the diversity of chemicals that were found.
The authors suggest that the fungi and bacteria in urban houses developed immunity to the chemicals, allowing them to thrive
Molecules derived from medicines and cleaning agents were part of the interior environment of houses in the metropolis and city, but not in rural or jungle homes.
Medicines were also found more often in urban homes, along with antifungal compounds.
Chemicals found in soap have also been found more often in the urban environment.
Although the inhabitants of the city said they cleaned their house and themselves more often, surfaces in their houses had a greater diversity of fungal species associated with human skin.
Researchers visited the metropolis of Manaus, Brazil, where two million people live to test for fungi and bacteria in an urban environment
In a bizarre twist, despite the fact that city dwellers used more cleaning products to rid their homes of bacteria, the opposite seemed true.
Results from the swabs showed that there was more fungus in the urban locations and also a greater variety of species.
It could be because the fungi have become resistant to cleaning agents, the study said.
It can also reflect the warmer temperatures of urban homes, reduced airflow, lower levels of natural light and higher amounts of human dander.
The authors suggest that the fungi develop immunity to the chemicals that allow them to thrive.
& # 39; Urbanization means a radical change in human behavior. Modern life literally shuts us off from the natural environment and shuts us off with industrial components, higher carbon dioxide levels and skin-loving fungi, & # 39; said senior author Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, professor of biochemistry and microbiology.
& # 39; This study sheds light on how human-created environments affect our health and how we can think about improving it. & # 39;
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