News from CRG
Scientists at the CRG joined on Tuesday 21 the Global City Sampling Day for the MetaSub research project. Started in 2013 in New York and led by Dr. Christopher E Mason at Weill Cornell Medicine, MetaSub is an international consortium of laboratories to establish a world-wide “DNA map” of microbiomes in mass transit systems.
“Bringing together scientists in dozens of cities worldwide in a real interdisciplinary initiative makes this project unique. We will be able not only to map the urban subway microbiome but to develop new standards for the metagenomics field and to optimize methods for all the steps within this project: from sample collection to data visualization through DNA/RNA isolation and sequencing,” explains Dr. Stephan Ossowski, group leader at the Centre for Genomic Regulation. The MetaSub initiative is pioneering an unprecedented study of urban mass-transit systems and cities around the world.
The data produced by the consortium will benefit city planners, public health officials, and designers, as well as the discovery of new species, biological systems, and biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs), thus enabling an era of more quantified, responsive, and “smarter cities.” Samples will be collected periodically over a five-year period. Many new questions arise from this project, for example, how the microbiome changes according to the weather, the flow of people, the cleanliness of the station, or the materials of its furniture. Also, questions related to the city such as the neighbourhood in which the station is located, the socio-economic level of its citizens, etc.