Belly Button Biodiversity
Ever wondered what microorganisms live on you?
You are alive, but just how alive? We know that species live under our beds or in our backyards. But how many living organisms are on a square centimeter of your skin? What do they do, and how they differ from those of your neighbor? Very little is known about the life that breathes all over us. Each personís microbial jungle is so rich, colorful, and dynamic that in all likelihood your body hosts species that no scientist has ever studied. Your navel may well be one of the last biological frontiers. It is time then, to explore.
Sampling the nation for Belly Button Bacteria
We are a group of biologists and science communicators from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and we want to know what lives on us. But this project is as much about teaching as it is about learning. We imagine germs as bad, and yet most are not. Most are either good or simply present, whether in between your toes or up your nose. The diversity on our bodies is, like any biological diversity, fascinating and full of awe and we want to share the joy of discovering it, one body part at a time. You give us a sample, we will grow and identify the bacteria, and you get the results. Meet your personal ecosystem, in color! With time we will not only grow the microbes off of your parts, we will sequence them, to know the easy to cultivate species but also all the rest. The life on us knows no celebrity, or rather it knows them as well as it knows the rest of us. ...