bourbon streetHave you ever been to Bourbon Street in New Orleans? Microbe Detectives just got back from a great week at WEFTEC in New Orleans. We really enjoyed the culture, amazing food and great music, and it was a very successful business trip. However, we spent several nights on Bourbon Street (UGH!).

We just could not resist finding out what kind of microbes might be living in the street gutter water (aka Bourbon Gumbo). So we decided to grab a sample and sequence the DNA of it’s microbiome.

Where does the term “Bourbon Gumbo” come from? – from our Uber driver. We told him we wanted to analyze the microbiology of one of the water puddles on Bourbon Street, and he told us “that’s known as Bourbon Gumbo.” He said “that’s some really nasty stuff,” and started an out of control laughter. We asked a graduate student in environmental engineering at the University of Illinois (whom we met on the plane ride home) what she thought was in “Bourbon Gumbo.” She said, “I’m not sure but it was definitely bubbling and probably contains anything gross that can come out of the human body.” She also thought it was pretty funny, nasty and interesting that we are going to sequence the DNA of the microbes.

Now our “Bourbon Gumbo” was sampled on Thursday September 28 at 1pm. We have been told that the streets are cleaned and hosed down early every morning. So maybe we will not find what might be found later in the night, but we are not sure.

What do you think we will find in “Bourbon Gumbo?” Send your comments on our blog, Facebook, Twitter or LInkedin. We will send out the results and findings soon.

Glad to have survived Bourbon Street. Stay tuned.