The Loh Down On Science

What players trade during contact sports will surprise you!

Game on! Scientists enter the roller derby!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet researchers from the University of Oregon.  They study the skin microbiome. It’s the collection of protective bacteria that covers every inch of our hairless hides.

The throng differs from person to person.  The scientists wondered, "Does skin-to-skin contact affect a person's microbiome?"  They figured one way to study the question would be via a contact sport.  And, in rainy Oregon, we're guessing an indoor rink seemed more appealing than an outdoor playing field.

So, at a roller-derby tournament, they swabbed the upper arms of players from three teams before and after each bout, or game.

What did DNA analysis of the swabs reveal?  That players on the same team had more similar microbiomes than players from different teams.  But, overall, each team's biomes had become more similar to the other teams' biomes after each bout than before.  So bacteria were exchanged between teams.

As was a lot of trash talk!  But that's another story.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

Thursday, from 2-3 p.m. on the LDOS blog: Sandra chats with author Po Bronson about his book NurtureShock.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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