a surfer riding a wave

Paulo Valdivieso/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Why scientists are swabbing the bodies of surfers worldwide

Microbiome researchers are taking their work to the waves with the Surfer Biome project. Led by a biochemistry graduate student and avid surfer himself, scientists are swabbing hundreds of samples across surfers’ bodies worldwide, The New York Times reports. One signal they are looking to find in the waves: antibiotic-resistant organisms. The ocean is teeming with microorganisms, and may be an unexplored factor in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance, because surfing can serve up an unsavory gulp of sewage water along polluted shorelines. Although the researchers haven’t discovered any ominous organisms spread by surfers yet, the project may still produce new insight into how environments and lifestyles influence the human microbiome.

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