Human belly buttons harbor 60 to 100 species of organisms!Published On: Thu, Aug 4th, 2011 | Cell Biology | By BioNews
An innie belly button is home to at least 60 to 100 or more species of bacteria, fungi and yeasts, according to new research.
“Although we find about 60 or 70 species on the average person, we have found more than 1400 species overall, such that differences among individuals are great,” Rob Dunn, assistant professor in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University, told Discovery News.
The scientists have confirmed the viability of these organisms by culturing, and are now in the process of sequencing each species” DNA.
Preliminary results indicate that the number of organisms per person highly varies, with each individual carrying his or her own unique mix.
The researchers have, however, concluded that a group of relatively few bacterial species are shared among most of us, with hundreds of other rare species occurring here and there.
The researchers chose to look at belly buttons, in part, because they tend to harbor so many organisms that are often undisturbed by cleansers, lotions, ultraviolet light and other things.
While many people might now be more mindful of belly button washing, Dunn said such organisms that are also found on our forearms, hands and really the entire surface of the body, serve an important function.
“They are a kind of first line defense against pathogens that land on us, a kind of living army on our skin that when it meets a newly arriving pathogen has, as a first response, to try to compete,” Dunn explained.
“A human who successfully scrubbed all of the microbes off of his or her body would be at incredibly high risk of a deadly skin infection,” he added.
The study will be presented at the Ecological Society of America”s 96th Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.