Swabbing DNA on Phones Reveals Mysteries of Microbial World Around Us

Xconomy Wisconsin — Ask someone “What’s on your phone?” and he or she might respond with some combination of photos, music, contacts, and mobile apps. But a series of interactive experiments co-led by a prominent geneticist are answering the question in a different way, by swabbing the surface of smartphones and telling their owners what bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other plant and animal matter are detected.
Chris Mason, a genomics professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, was the keynote speaker at the Wisconsin BioHealth Summit, an event held Tuesday in Madison, WI, and organized by BioForward, the state’s flagship life sciences advocacy group. Attendees were encouraged to have the DNA on their phones swabbed and analyzed on site.