Geospatial Resolution of Human and Bacterial Diversity with City-Scale Metagenomics

Ebrahim Afshinnekoo, Cem Meydan, Shanin Chowdhury, Dyala Jaroudi, Collin Boyer, Nick Bernstein, Julia M. Maritz, Darryl Reeves, Jorge Gandara, Sagar Chhangawala, Sofia Ahsanuddin, Amber Simmons, Timothy Nessel, Bharathi Sundaresh, Elizabeth Pereira, Ellen Jorgensen, Sergios Orestis Kolokotronis, Nell Kirchberger, Isaac Garcia, David GandaraSean Dhanraj, Tanzina Nawrin, Yogesh Saletore, Noah Alexander, Priyanka Vijay, Elizabeth M. Hénaff, Paul Zumbo, Michael Walsh, Gregory D. O'Mullan, Scott Tighe, Joel T. Dudley, Anya Dunaif, Sean Ennis, Eoghan O'Halloran, Tiago R. Magalhaes, Braden Boone, Angela L. Jones, Theodore R. Muth, Katie Schneider Paolantonio, Elizabeth Alter, Eric E. Schadt, Jeanne Garbarino, Robert J. Prill, Jane M. Carlton, Shawn Levy, Christopher E. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary The panoply of microorganisms and other species present in our environment influence human health and disease, especially in cities, but have not been profiled with metagenomics at a city-wide scale. We sequenced DNA from surfaces across the entire New York City (NYC) subway system, the Gowanus Canal, and public parks. Nearly half of the DNA (48%) does not match any known organism; identified organisms spanned 1,688 bacterial, viral, archaeal, and eukaryotic taxa, which were enriched for genera associated with skin (e.g., Acinetobacter). Predicted ancestry of human DNA left on subway surfaces can recapitulate U.S. Census demographic data, and bacterial signatures can match a station's history, such as marine-associated bacteria in a hurricane-flooded station. This baseline metagenomic map of NYC could help long-term disease surveillance, bioterrorism threat mitigation, and health management in the built environment of cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
Pages (from-to)72-87
Number of pages16
JournalCell Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 29 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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