Game of Thrones: Bacteria Style

Tina Adoniou

You know you’re immersed in your work when you start to see everything through that lens. In our case, it’s bacteria. (Ha!) So the other night I was watching Game of Thrones, the opening credits come on, and all I can see is how they illustrate the landscape and the buildings and cities are reminiscent of microbial colonies forming, growing, then spreading over the landscape. I wondered, am I crazy or actually onto something?

Most people in my office (like everyone else on the planet) love to nerd out on GOT, so I shared my thoughts with one of my coworkers. Next thing you know, the entire room was chiming in and GOT/bacteria analogies were popping up all over the place. We quickly realized that we actually could accurately use Game of Thrones to explain the skin microbiome. Check it out...

The houses are like all the different microbial species.

Simply put, Game of Thrones consists of many family houses...some of whom are allies, some are friends, some work together, and some are only interested in taking over, and destroying others if given the chance. This is not unlike the skin microbiome, where you have a diverse community where some bacteria are friends, some are foes, some are symbiotic and support each other, and some will destroy the others if given a chance. Both represent a complex set of power dynamics and power struggles where every individual house (or bacterium) play a vital role.

The Freys are like the opportunistic microbes.

The (power) struggle is real. Two words about the Freys that demonstrate this: Red Wedding. In relation to the microbial world, there’s Staphylococcus aureus (also known as staph), a type of bacteria that is generally omnipresent on our skin and is normally kept in check by other microorganisms. When the microbiome is disrupted, staph will seize that opportunity to wreak havoc and cause a staph infection. If staph were a character in GOT, we agreed there’s only one house it would pledge...we’re looking at you, Freys!

The White Walkers are like triclosan.

There’s no debating the White Walkers are pretty damn scary and destructive. The Wights, in particular, are the triclosan of the GOT world. Like a potent antibacterial that simply kills all bacteria, both good and bad, and turns the skin microbiome into a dried out wasteland (and continues to create issues on the surrounding environment)…the Wights don’t discriminate whom or what can be turned into a member of their army of the dead. Simply anything and anyone they encounter (people of all ages, genders, and even animals and dragons) can fall prey to living in their zombie-filled land of perpetual winter.

Perhaps AOBs are like Varys or dragon glass?

Now thinking about all of this in relation to our favorite bacteria in the skin microbiome, Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB for short) that’s used in our AO+ Mist. As the conversation bounced around the office things got a little spirited and creative, and we couldn’t reach consensus on this one, so we’re throwing it out here for you to chew on.

Basically, someone chimed in that AOB, since it’s a peacekeeping bacteria, are like Varys, the quiet spymaster who is actually working for the good for the people. And there’s another theory that the AO+ Mist is like dragonglass - one of the rare items that can kill the White Walkers, or restore peace after being ravaged by sterilizing chemicals.

So what do YOU think? Do you agree with any of this? What are your ideas? And do you think we’ve gone off the deep end? ;-)


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