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Study: Smartphones Carry Personal Microbiome Signature

FILE - A man uses his smartphone to help him find the right gifts and compare prices at a retail store in New York.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that smartphones are becoming parts of our personalities. As chief justice John Roberts recently said, the smartphone apps “can form a revealing montage of the user's life.”

But scientists say it goes even further than that. Results of a study done by researchers at the University of Oregon show that smartphones also carry the range of microbes specific for the individual owner, the so-called microbiome.

Comparing the samples taken from fingers of 17 volunteers and from their smartphone touch screens, researchers found that the individuals' microbiomes could be clearly distinguished.

The study also shows that women seem to share more bacteria with their smartphones than males and that washing hands does not affect the spectrum of bacteria we share with our most important gadget.

According to the study, smartphones could someday be used as personal microbiome sensors.