Material-dependent growth of human skin bacteria on textiles investigated using challenge tests and DNA genotyping

J Appl Microbiol. 2010 Feb;108(2):450-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2009.04434.x. Epub 2009 Jun 25.


Aims: To investigate the influence of different fibre materials on the colonization of textiles by skin bacteria present in human sweat.

Methods and results: The total bacterial content of axillary sweat samples was determined using DNA quantification, and the diversity of bacteria present was investigated. Fabrics made of different fibres were then challenged with these sweat samples; the bacterial DNA was quantified, and the bacterial taxa present were determined. We found differences in the overall colonization, with polyester and polyamide showing the highest bacterial mass. Also, significant differences in the various taxa of bacteria present on the different materials were found. In general, synthetic materials showed a selective growth of bacterial taxa underrepresented in sweat. In contrast, a cellulose-based material showed only very few taxa, identically with those predominant in sweat.

Conclusions: Our investigations demonstrated that besides the bacterial content of sweat itself, the type of material has a strong impact on the bacterial colonization of textiles.

Significance and impact of the study: Odour generation is one of several effects resulting from an interaction of skin bacteria with textiles, and it is a common experience that there are differences in odour generation by different materials. Our investigations suggest that a selective growth of potentially odour-producing bacteria may account for this.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odorants
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Sweat / microbiology*
  • Textiles / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S