Guest Post: Don’t forget to scrub your navel

Umbilical plane

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Lauren Stierstorfer cautions us to be extra careful when scrubbing from now on:

A new study has begun called the Belly Button Biodiversity Project. This begun as something that was sort of for fun and not meant to be taken too seriously. However, in the 95 samples that were taken, 1400 different bacterial strains were found. Many of these strands were not able to be put into any particular family. This leads scientists to conclude that belly buttons can potentially be home to several bacteria that are not yet known to science. This supports the quote that we heard in class, “the human body is a walking petri dish.”

Samples of people’s belly buttons were taken the same way we took samples of our skin in class, when we tested ourselves for staphylococcus. People swabbed their navels using cotton swabs. These samples were used to observe the DNA.

In one sample, the bacteria Georgenia was found, which scientists have come across in Asian soil. This is a very strange observation because this person had never been to Japan before, which is the only other place where this organism has been found. Another interesting fact about this organism is that it is halophilic, meaning it likes salt. Skin is a fairly salty environment, so this may be one of the reasons why this organism is residing here. This just proves how diverse the normal flora of the human species can be. This study is turning out to be more significant than anticipated. It is important to study the microbiota of the human body because these organisms could potentially become pathogens.

Aldhous, Peter. “Belly button biomes begin to blossom.” NewScientist. Reed Business Information Ltd., 30 Jun 2011. Web. 4 Jul 2011.

Tang, SK. “Georgenia halophila sp. nov., a halophilic actinobacterium isolated from a salt lake..” International Journal of Systemic and Evolutionary Microbiology, June 2010. Web. 5 Jul 2011.


About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on July 5, 2011, in Guest Post, Microbes in the News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Guest Post: Don’t forget to scrub your navel.

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