Sometimes a paper comes along which is simply too good not to include in a journal club. An exciting yet contentious  finding that presents as a paradigm shift in our understanding of a pathogenic microbe with far reaching implications for public health.

Unfortunately I just couldn’t shift my focus to that paper from one essentially about toilets. This weeks paper therefore concerns that which we would rather not know – the diversity, and sources, of surface microbial communities in public restrooms.

The authors present the application of 16S rRNA sequence analysis (apologies, it is another next-gen approach) to further our understanding of microbial communities on surfaces.  They in turn demonstrate the utility of SourceTracker (a Bayesian-based comparison tool) for elucidating the likely source of these contaminations. The implications of their findings to human health are finally discussed.

Some points to consider:

1. Was it really worth it?

2. Was the goal of this study  clear?

3. Given the analysis methods employed can any extrapolation to the prevalence of disease causing bacteria really be made?

As ever please feel free to leave further discussion points……