Vincent Cavalier / SR
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Callum Cooper, Samuel Gerner, and Alexis Dziedziech of Stockholm University's department of molecular biosciences. Credit: Vincent Cavalier / SR
Photo: Vincent Cavalier / SR
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A researcher takes a cotton swab of a bench in the Slussen subway station. Credit: Vincent Cavalier / SR

Researchers study how microbes take the subway

6:41 min

Researchers from Stockholm University are studying bacteria and microorganisms found on the benches, handrails and poles of Stockholm's subway system.

The research team, led by Klas Udekwu from the department of molecular biosciences, will take cotton swabs of a variety of surfaces in the city's subways and stations. They hope to illuminate how, where and when microorganisms show up in a man-made environment that is heavily trafficked.

The project started in New York and is being conducted in 47 cities around the world. Nine stations will be studied during March and 100 will be studied in June. The whole project is expected to take five years.

The researchers are not necessarily identifying dangerous pathogens, Udekwu told Radio Sweden. He said:

"It's debatable but quite well accepted that the very presence of these microbes that are well-attuned to living in and around us actually inhibits the more pathogenic or disease-causing organisms from getting a grip and colonizing us," said Udekwu.

Udekwu added: "We need to do a better job of explaining how central microbes are to every aspect of our existence."

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