Bellybutton Bacterial Biodiversity
How what’s growing on you can help us figure out what we’re made of
How can swabbing the belly button lint of a bunch of science folks teach us about how our bodies interact with the living world around us? Jason Tetro has the story at The Huffington Post:
The body is continually in flux with the environment to find harmony between various kinds of exposures and the body’s reaction to them through the workings of the immune system. Inert or even mutually-beneficial exposures, such as good germs, will be allowed by the body and even encouraged. Those that are parasitic, such as pathogens, will be fought off and destroyed. As life goes on, we tend to hold on to the germs that we like and keep them growing happily with us as we continue our journey. Our bellybutton microbiome therefore reveals how each of us as a member of the Earth’s biome has interacted with and reacted to the dynamics of nature.
For a species that is so interested in itself, we know surprisingly little about the microbes that reside on and in us. By identifying, sequencing, studying and connecting the various beasties in our bellies and elsewhere, we will know more about how our body separates harm from good, and how we depend on microbes for our very existence.
Check out more at the Bellybutton Biodiversity Project.