Belly Button Biodiversity

#Science

Fri, Nov 16th, 2012 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Since most people don't wash their bellybutton, it is a safe haven for bacteria to live undisturbed. A group of biologists and science communicators from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, wanted to know what kind of germs and bacteria live on people. The scientists have asked volunteers to submit swabs of their belly button bacteria so as to learn about the "personal ecosystem" living with us.

Why begin with the belly button?

Because no one volunteers when we ask for armpit samples. Because our belly buttons are relatively isolated, a place where microbes are safe. Because everybody has one, its what once connected us to our past. Yet, we barely notice it in our daily lives, to the point that few people actually wash theirs. Which is great for the bacteria! They are well protected, and provide a refuge of our wild nature. We can ask many questions about the microbes on our bodies (what controls which live where, whether the species on men and women are different, whether innies and outies sport different fancies, etc.) but a first step is to simply see who is there, the way the first explorers, upon arriving at new continents, simply wrote home to describe what they found.

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