The Drinking Water Microbiome and Human Health
Human exposure to microbes in drinking water can occur from ingestion, skin exposure, and inhalation. Evidence is building that exposure to diverse microbial communities improves human health and reduces the risk associated with pathogens inevitably present in drinking water. Given this, it is critical that we evaluate which factors affect the characteristics of microbial communities we are exposed to through drinking water. With this information, we can begin to rationally modify drinking water treatment and distribution to promote human health by facilitating exposure to safe and diverse microbial communities and to reduce risk of disease by selectively eliminating pathogens. We are proposing a study that will identify the factors that regulate the microbial community structure in drinking water and will provide quantitative insights into how these factors may be manipulated to realize the stated benefits. We will use the human respiratory tract microbiome as a model system to evaluate the effects of exposure to the drinking water microbiome on human health.
$120,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation