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Compared to microbiomes on other skin sites, the bacterial microbiome of the human hand has been found to have greater variability across time. To increase understanding regarding the longitudinal transfer of the hand microbiome to objects in the built environment, and vice versa, 22 participants provided skin microbiome samples from their dominant hands, as well as from frequently and infrequently touched objects in their office environments. Additional longitudinal samples from home environments were obtained from a subset of 11 participants. We observed stability of the microbiomes of both the hand and built environments within the office and home settings; however, differences in the microbial communities were detected across the two built environments. Occupants’ frequency of touching an object correlated to that object having a higher relative abundance of human microbes, yet the percent of shared microbes was variable by participants. Finally, objects that were horizontal surfaces in the built environment had higher microbial diversity as compared to objects and the occupants’ hands. This study adds to the existing knowledge of microbiomes of the built environment, enables more detailed studies of indoor microbial transfer, and contributes to future models and building interventions to reduce negative outcomes and improve health and well-being.


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Scientific Reports