Roller Girls Studied for Bacteria

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EUGENE, Ore. — The Emerald City Roller Girls were one of the teams swabbed for research in an University of Oregon bacteria study. Researchers found the roller girls were sharing more than shoves on the court, they were also exchanging bacteria.

The Emerald City Roller Girls compete against players from all over the country, which came in hand for one their former teammates.

“She took advantage of a competition we held for the first time last year and compared microbes from different teams from different parts of the country,” said Courtenay Padgett, Emerald City Roller Girls.

A team of researchers swabbed players before and after a tournament to see what bacteria they found on their skin.

“And we swabbed the upper arms of these women. They went through a bout, and then after the bout what we saw is they had been mixing bacteria during the bout,” Meadow said.

Players say it’s a very high contact sport.

“So we are allowed to make contact anywhere from thigh to shoulder on players same basic location,” Padgett said.

Researchers say even though most people don’t play roller derby, it’s the idea of healthy people sharing microbes and bacteria. They can use the study to find out how every human interaction changes our genetic makeup.

“All of us as humans are always covered in bacteria on our skin, in our guts, in our mouths, and yet we know very little about what they’re doing and where they come from,” Meadow said.

UO researchers are already studying the next step, which is finding out just how long microbial changes stay on a person’s body once contact is made with someone else.

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