Tags: belly | button | bacteria | living | navel | microbial | fauna

Belly Button Bacteria: Is It Harmful?

Friday, 16 Nov 2012 12:04 PM


Your belly button may look clean, but a new study says it's home to thousands and thousands of different bacteria.
In fact, researchers at North Carolina State University liken human navels to a "tropical forest" of microbial fauna, some even new to science.
But don't worry, it's rarely harmful. And under a microscope the microbe city does not look menacing.
"It's quite beautiful," researcher Rob Dunn says in the study.
The Belly Button Biodiversity project began about a year ago with the navels of 60 intrigued (if not somewhat grossed out) volunteers, who swabbed their belly buttons with a Q-tip for scientists, National Geographic reported.
From those swabs, the team found 2,368 bacterial species — 1,458 of which may be new to science.
They included strange species, such as one found in Dunn's navel that appears to prefer to break down pesticides, The Huffington Post reported.
Another participant harbored a species of bacteria only found in Japan — a place neither he or his family had ever visited.
And one subject, who admittedly hadn’t washed for years, hosted two species of bacteria that typically thrive in ice caps and thermal vents, according to ZME Science.
But while all of this is grossly fascinating, Dunn's team now wants to know which bacteria typically calls the human body home, why they do this and what the differences mean.
"We're all like the guys before Darwin who went out and brought this stuff on the ship and said, 'Check out this bird that's totally weird! This has got to be important!
"They were still so far from understanding the big picture," Dunn told National Geographic. "That's where we are."
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You may not think about your belly button very much, but it's home to thousands of different bacteria, and about half of them may be new to science.
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Friday, 16 Nov 2012 12:04 PM
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