The annual Global City Sampling Day will once again take place on June 21, 2022. Microbiological samples will be collected in cities around the world, including Kraków, which participates in this world-wide project thanks to scientists from the Malopolska Centre of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University.
The Global City Sampling Day is a synchronized worldwide action of the international consortium MetaSUB (The Metagenomics and Metadesign of the Subways and Urban Biomes), based in New York, which takes place every year on 21 June. In public transport around the world, MetaSUB members, as well as trained volunteers, collect swabs and air samples from surfaces on subways, streetcars, buses, airports, and other public places. The collected material will be submitted to the New York City gCSD database maintained by Professor Christopher Mason, founder of the MetaSUB Consortium. The samples will then be sequenced and analysed to develop a genetic and epigenetic map identifying the species of microorganisms inhabiting each participating city, called the microbiome.
The Kraków part of the campaign has been initiated and coordinated by Dr Paweł Łabaj, head of the Bioinformatics Research Group at the Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology at the Jagiellonian University, and co-founder of the MetaSUB Europe association.
According to the MetaSUB Consortium, most of the world’s population (about 54%) now lives in cities. The Consortium builds molecular profiles of metropolises around the world, focusing on public transport systems, which are spaces of intensified human interaction. The dynamics of microbiomes and metagenomes on shared surfaces; handles, handrails, seats, or ticket machines, and interactions with these surfaces can affect the health of individuals and the health of entire urban ecosystems and populations. The whole project is potentially significant not only for public transport safety but, more importantly, for the sustainability, safety, security, and future planning of cities.
The MetaSub publication “A global metagenomic map of urban microbiomes and antimicrobial resistance” has been recognised as one of the best publications of the prestigious publisher of scientific journals Cell Press for 2021. The article, co-authored by Dr Paweł Łabaj, presents the results of the analysis of nearly five thousand samples from 60 cities around the world from the first few years of the consortium activities.
The project in Krakow takes place thanks to active cooperation between representatives of the local government and municipal transport companies: the Municipality of Kraków – Entrepreneurship and Innovation Department, the Public Transport Authority in Kraków (ZTP Kraków), and Municipal Transport Company (MPK S.A.) in Krakow.