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Open AccessArticle

Metagenomic Analysis of Regularly Microwave-Treated and Untreated Domestic Kitchen Sponges

Faculty of Medical and Life Sciences, Institute of Precision Medicine, Microbiology and Hygiene Group, Furtwangen University, 78054 Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany
Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University & Research, 6708 WE Wageningen, The Netherlands
Institute of Applied Microbiology, Research Centre for BioSystems, Land Use, and Nutrition (IFZ), Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, 35392 Giessen, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Microorganisms 2020, 8(5), 736;
Received: 30 March 2020 / Revised: 8 May 2020 / Accepted: 8 May 2020 / Published: 14 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transmission and Detection of Food and Environmental Pathogens)
Kitchen sponges massively absorb and spread microorganisms, leading to contamination of kitchen appliances, surfaces, and food. Microwaving as an effective and widespread technique can rapidly reduce the microbial load of kitchen sponges. However, long-term effects of such treatments are largely unknown. Notably, it has been speculated that regularly applied domestic cleaning and disinfection may select for microbial communities with a higher pathogenic potential and/or malodorous properties. In this study, we distributed newly purchased polyurethane kitchen sponges to 20 participants, with the instruction to use them under normal household conditions for four weeks. Ten of the participants sanitized their sponges regularly by a standardized microwaving protocol, while the remaining ten sponges remained untreated. Metagenomic sequence data evaluation indicated that, in addition to bacteria, viruses, eukaryotes, and archaea were also part of the kitchen sponge microbiome. Comparisons of sanitized and untreated kitchen sponges indicated a trend towards a reduced structural microbial diversity while functional diversity increased. Microwave sanitization appeared to alter composition and metabolic properties of the microbial communities. Follow-up studies will have to show whether these changes are more positive or negative in terms of domestic hygiene, human health, and well-being. View Full-Text
Keywords: kitchen sponge; metagenomics; shotgun sequencing; microwave; kitchen hygiene kitchen sponge; metagenomics; shotgun sequencing; microwave; kitchen hygiene
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Jacksch, S.; Thota, J.; Shetty, S.; Smidt, H.; Schnell, S.; Egert, M. Metagenomic Analysis of Regularly Microwave-Treated and Untreated Domestic Kitchen Sponges. Microorganisms 2020, 8, 736.

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