Transformative lessons discovered from belly button bacteria

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Transformative lessons discovered from belly button bacteria

Belly buttons receive our first food, but sometimes they're our last thought with regards to personal hygiene. Belly buttons are as common as they are neglected. Belly button Diversity project researchers welcome the dirt, as your belly button bacteria tells a tale. The tale human navel bacteria have to tell about divergent evolution is a jewel in the crown of microbial study. Post resource - New belly button bacteria furthers study of evolution by

Learning about belly buttons

Many have clear feelings about the belly button, including the Washington Post. It said the human naval is a "bacterial nature reserve." We may be able to understand the belly button just a little bit better now after the DNA analysis of undercover microbes was done by Belly button Biodiversity team leader doctors Noah Fierer of the University of Colorado and Jiri Hulcr of North Carolina University.

"Each person's microbial jungle is so rich, colorful and dynamic that in all likelihood, your body hosts species that no scientist has ever studied," says the Belly Button Biodiversity website. "It is time, then, to explore."

Cleaning habits - or lack thereof - have made amazing discoveries possible. As few individuals wash their navels with soap, the chance for microbial growth increases. Hulcr suggests there may be links between belly button bacteria and microbes that have previously only been found on the deep ocean floor. Wikipedia explains the research of evolution can be furthered because "the accumulation of differences between groups which can lead to the formation of new species."

Reading the DNA barcode

The gene for 16S ribosomal RNA is the "DNA barcode" used to research relationships in bacteria. It has been sequenced since April 2011 for the Belly button Biodiversity project. Of the 95 subject samples that have been processed so far, more than 1,400 bacterial strains have been detected. Of those, 662 microbial strains meet no known family of classification, suggesting new scientific finds.

"We're probably the only ones studying human belly buttons on such a large scale," admits Hulcr.

Innie, outie, tomato, to-mah-to

Hulcr and Fierer say the microbial tenants of belly buttons are the same even though "outies" are pretty rare. There is more microbial diversity in hairy navels since they tend to collect more dust, sweat, fat, dead skin and lint. Navel melanoma is even possible. A small T-shaped belly button is the "ideal female belly button," as shown in the BBB study. Outies and odd, horizontal shapes were considered less attractive by research organizers and participants.

Discovering a new world

We know very little about what is occurring in our navels, states Hulcr, who compares the "a-ha" moments of the research to what it must have been like when explorers encountered African big game for the initial time. People aren't using soap in the naval, and that is allowing new bacteria to grow and grow, according to Rob Dunn. Dunn is the "The Wild Life of Our Bodies" author.

Articles cited

Belly Button Biodiversity

Divergent evolution Wiki

In search of the ideal female umbilicus


The nature of navel fluff

Washington Post

The Wild Life of Our Bodies

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