Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the extent to which the public transportation environment, such as in subways, may be important for the transmission of potential pathogenic microbes among humans, with the possibility of rapidly impacting large numbers of people. For these reasons, sanitation procedures, including massive use of chemical disinfection, were mandatorily introduced during the emergency and remain in place. However, most chemical disinfectants have temporary action and a high environmental impact, potentially enhancing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of the treated microbes. By contrast, a biological and eco-sustainable probiotic-based sanitation (PBS) procedure was recently shown to stably shape the microbiome of treated environments, providing effective and long-term control of pathogens and AMR spread in addition to activity against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Our study aims to assess the applicability and impact of PBS compared with chemical disinfectants based on their effects on the surface microbiome of a subway environment. Results: The train microbiome was characterized by both culture-based and culture-independent molecular methods, including 16S rRNA NGS and real-time qPCR microarray, for profiling the train bacteriome and its resistome and to identify and quantify specific human pathogens. SARS-CoV-2 presence was also assessed in parallel using digital droplet PCR. The results showed a clear and significant decrease in bacterial and fungal pathogens (p<0.001) as well as of SARS-CoV-2 presence (p<0.01), in the PBS-treated train compared with the chemically disinfected control train. In addition, NGS profiling evidenced diverse clusters in the population of air vs. surface while demonstrating the specific action of PBS against pathogens rather than the entire train bacteriome. Conclusions: The data presented here provide the first direct assessment of the impact of different sanitation procedures on the subway microbiome, allowing a better understanding of its composition and dynamics and showing that a biological sanitation approach may be highly effective in counteracting pathogens and AMR spread in our increasingly urbanized and interconnected environment.

Shaping the subway microbiome through probiotic-based sanitation during the COVID-19 emergency: a pre–post case–control study

Maria D'Accolti
Primo
Investigation
;
Irene Soffritti
Secondo
Investigation
;
Francesca Bini
Investigation
;
Eleonora Mazziga
Investigation
;
Sante Mazzacane
Penultimo
Supervision
;
Elisabetta Caselli
Ultimo
Conceptualization
2023

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the extent to which the public transportation environment, such as in subways, may be important for the transmission of potential pathogenic microbes among humans, with the possibility of rapidly impacting large numbers of people. For these reasons, sanitation procedures, including massive use of chemical disinfection, were mandatorily introduced during the emergency and remain in place. However, most chemical disinfectants have temporary action and a high environmental impact, potentially enhancing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of the treated microbes. By contrast, a biological and eco-sustainable probiotic-based sanitation (PBS) procedure was recently shown to stably shape the microbiome of treated environments, providing effective and long-term control of pathogens and AMR spread in addition to activity against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Our study aims to assess the applicability and impact of PBS compared with chemical disinfectants based on their effects on the surface microbiome of a subway environment. Results: The train microbiome was characterized by both culture-based and culture-independent molecular methods, including 16S rRNA NGS and real-time qPCR microarray, for profiling the train bacteriome and its resistome and to identify and quantify specific human pathogens. SARS-CoV-2 presence was also assessed in parallel using digital droplet PCR. The results showed a clear and significant decrease in bacterial and fungal pathogens (p<0.001) as well as of SARS-CoV-2 presence (p<0.01), in the PBS-treated train compared with the chemically disinfected control train. In addition, NGS profiling evidenced diverse clusters in the population of air vs. surface while demonstrating the specific action of PBS against pathogens rather than the entire train bacteriome. Conclusions: The data presented here provide the first direct assessment of the impact of different sanitation procedures on the subway microbiome, allowing a better understanding of its composition and dynamics and showing that a biological sanitation approach may be highly effective in counteracting pathogens and AMR spread in our increasingly urbanized and interconnected environment.
2023
D'Accolti, Maria; Soffritti, Irene; Bini, Francesca; Mazziga, Eleonora; Cason, Carolina; Comar, Manola; Volta Matteo Bisi, Antonella; Fumagalli, Daniele; Mazzacane, Sante; Caselli, Elisabetta
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2517650
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