Cities like London and Tokyo have their own unique microbiomes

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Tokyo

The skyline of Tokyo, Japan

Sara Winter/Alamy

Each city has its own distinct microbiome, according to a vast survey of microbes in 60 urban areas worldwide that also discovered 11,000 new viruses and bacteria.

Christopher Mason at Cornell University in New York and his team asked colleagues around the world to collect swabs from urban transport systems, such as subways, between 2015 and 2017. In all, 4728 samples were collected from cities including London, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. Some 58 per cent of the cities were in east Asia and Europe.

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The nylon swabs, which were placed into a tube containing a DNA and RNA preservative…

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