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Kissing Biome

November 18, 2014

How many microbes can be shared in a kiss?



His and her microbes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you start kissing your partner passionately right now, by the time you stop kissing at the end of this sentence, you will have shared eighty million bacteria. That’s the conclusion of a team of hard-working Dutch scientists, as reported in the journal Microbiome. They studied twenty-one couples, giving one member of each couple a probiotic drink containing billions of bacteria, had them kiss passionately, and then, tested the partner’s saliva for the presence of those bacteria.

They also found that if a couple shares at least nine intimate kisses per day, they also share pretty much the same oral bacteria. The team points out that humans are the only species to engage in passionate kissing, and they suspect it could play a role in our immune and digestive systems. Of course, needless to say, much, much, much more research is needed to be certain. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.