Auras belong in the realm of pseudoscience, but microbiologists may have just discovered an element of truth in the concept.
Scientists have found a microbial 'aura' of unique and identifiable communities of bacteria living on people's skin and in their homes. These communities follow people whereever they go and leave traces that can be used almost like a fingerprint to determine a person's movements.
The US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago conducted the research as part of the Home Microbiome Project. The results were published in Science this week.
Seven families, including 18 people, gave swab samples of themselves and their homes every day for six weeks.
Scientists conducted DNA analysis of these samples to build up an idea of the diversity of each individual's microbe community.
The researchers found that they could accurately predict which sample came from which home using the microbial 'fingerprint'.
Comparing the surfaces of old and new homes, scientists found that the microbes settled into a new location within one day of occupancy by a new family.
They also found that individuals who had increased physical contact, such as partners, had similar microbes.
The scientists found they could determine the comings and goings of individuals living in the same house through the conspicuous absence in their microbial 'aura'.