The most urgent microbe-related question is where to find SARS-CoV-2 and how to kill it. Beyond that, there are also long-term questions. How can we promote indoor microbe populations that don’t make us chronically ill or harbor deadly pathogens? Can we actually cultivate beneficial microbes in our buildings the way a farmer cultivates a field? Sanitizing everything is not the answer. A serious risk is that attempts to sterilize our surroundings can kill off bacteria critical for human health—or, even worse, inadvertently promote the survival and evolution of more dangerous bugs, including antibiotic-resistant superbugs. “We should be worried,” says Rob Knight, founding director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation and a professor of pediatrics at UCSD.
Knight Lab, University of California