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Author Topic: Belly Button Bacteria!  (Read 2740 times)

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Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Belly Button Bacteria!
« on: January 25, 2011, 06:58:29 PM »
http://www.wildlifeofyourbody.org/index.html

Quote
Ever wondered what microorganisms live on you?

You are alive, but just how alive? 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 person's 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.

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 with everyone. You give us a sample, we will grow and identify the bacteria, and you get the results. Meet your personal ecosystem, in color!

Why begin with the belly button?

Because no one volunteers when we ask for armpit samples. Because our belly buttons are relatively isolated, a place where microbes are safe. Because everybody has one, its what once connected us to our past. Yet, we barely notice it in our daily lives, to the point that few people actually wash theirs. Which is great for the bacteria! They are well protected, and provide a refuge of our wild nature. We can ask many questions about the microbes on our bodies (what controls which live where, whether the species on men and women are different, whether innies and outies sport different fancies, etc…) but a first step is to simply see who is there, the way the first explorers, upon arriving at new continents, simply wrote home to describe what they found.

So far, so bountiful

Your body's life is beautiful. Browse through our collection of bodily life, or find your own sample here. Samples shown in our collection came from our first "sampling event," the ScienceOnline 2011 convention where writers, podcasters and other communicators came to share what they know and, it turns out, a little more. In among these samples are a the species that grow on some of our very favorite science writers.

I thought it was a project worth sharing, and an interesting one. Especially for those of us whose study of science and microbiology has led us to be just a little bit germophobic...

Offline Star Safyre

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2011, 07:10:54 PM »
Belly buttons always make me smile.   :-)

I wonder if those with pierced navels are less likely to harbor bacteria.  I recall reading another study on belly button lint that found that pierced navels tend to have very little to no lint at all.  Does that navel hygiene also extend to the microscopic level as well?

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2011, 07:22:57 PM »
*goes looking for the alcohol and hydrogen peroxide*

Offline Paradox

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2011, 08:31:21 PM »
I knew a broad whose belly button always had a slightly odd stench even though she washed it out every day. I wonder what lived in hers.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 01:04:46 AM »
Oojie microfauna!

And Wait...what? Paradox makes smelling belly-buttons a daily habit?

Offline Star Safyre

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 04:55:11 AM »
And Wait...what? Paradox makes smelling belly-buttons a daily habit?

Don't judge a man by his kinks.   ^-^

Offline DudelRok

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 03:44:18 AM »
This is cool! I wish I was in North Carolina now. :O

http://www.wildlifeofyourbody.org/event.html

That would be so neat!

Personally, I've always liked my microbes.

Offline Alika Luminos

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 09:24:47 PM »
*goes looking for the alcohol and hydrogen peroxide*

*runs after with a culture swab and a petri dish* Don't kill theeeeem!

Offline Paradox

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2011, 12:24:20 PM »
This is cool! I wish I was in North Carolina now. :O

http://www.wildlifeofyourbody.org/event.html

That would be so neat!

Personally, I've always liked my microbes.

That's only around four hours away, and I have a friend down there. I may go!

Offline Sandman02

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2011, 10:31:39 PM »
I'd be interested in knowing whether or not the belly-button "fauna" is found to vary in any consistent way from region to region

Offline Noelle

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2011, 05:46:24 PM »
Belly buttons always make me smile.   :-)

I wonder if those with pierced navels are less likely to harbor bacteria.  I recall reading another study on belly button lint that found that pierced navels tend to have very little to no lint at all.  Does that navel hygiene also extend to the microscopic level as well?

Consider that people with pierced navels tend to clean their piercing at least semi-regularly (I would hope D:), which in turn kind of gets the rest of the navel in one hit. They are more cognizant of their belly button than most, I'd wager. At least I am, since mine is pierced :P

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2011, 05:58:40 PM »
I'd be interested in knowing whether or not the belly-button "fauna" is found to vary in any consistent way from region to region

Probably not. Human dwelling microbes are pretty ubiquitous. Their environmental niche is human, and we aren't nearly so different as some people like to pretend we are. Most likely the micro-environment of the human belly button protects them from outside variation. Barring of course temporary infectious pathogens and the like.

Offline SinClaire

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2011, 01:09:32 AM »
*goes looking for the alcohol and hydrogen peroxide*

Actually, warm water with a bit of salt is loads better - you won't damage your skin, will get rid of the bacteria, and in fact will help your belly-button health. Same with cuts in your mouth!

Offline frogman

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2011, 04:23:13 AM »
And I thought the only thing people had to worry about was belly button lint...

Online Andronica

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2011, 09:36:45 PM »
Well, this has certainly made me want to go clean my belly button.

Offline Serephino

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2011, 11:16:32 PM »
*goes to get the hand sanitizer to cleans his belly button*

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2011, 01:11:20 AM »
http://www.wildlifeofyourbody.org/index.html

I thought it was a project worth sharing, and an interesting one. Especially for those of us whose study of science and microbiology has led us to be just a little bit germophobic...

As someone with a very .. vigourous biochemistry I can respect this idea a LOT. I mean I have literally had my sweat etch my glasses lens over time (as well as turn metal frames green). I have to do a LOT to keep it under control. Prescription anti-bacterial deodorant.

So yeah.. if they can come up with a way to kill off the smell bugs on my skin that react to sweat.. I'd be very happy. It's annoying to have to work that extra step all the time.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2011, 09:34:56 AM »
*goes to get the hand sanitizer to cleans his belly button*


It should be noted that for the most part, unless there is an active infection in your navel, you should leave it alone. The bacteria in your bellybutton is largely like the bacteria in your gut: it's fairly harmless, and actually keeps more harmful bacteria from colonizing the area.

Just sayin'.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2011, 12:21:00 AM »
So is that why your avatar is stabbing the hapless fool reaching for her belly button?  Assault with Purel?

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2011, 07:17:43 AM »
She's very protective of her commensal bacteria.

Offline Story Tale

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Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2011, 04:27:04 PM »
Interesting, but at the end of the day I think there are just some things I don't want to see under a microscope. I might peek at someone else's bacteria, but, in my mind my belly button is uninhabited. *nods and scrubs extra hard during next shower*

Offline Manari

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2012, 04:57:51 PM »
I love my belly button!  But I do tend to wash it pretty regularly. 

Offline Acid

Re: Belly Button Bacteria!
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2012, 07:18:22 AM »
Belly buttons always make me smile.   :-)

I wonder if those with pierced navels are less likely to harbor bacteria.  I recall reading another study on belly button lint that found that pierced navels tend to have very little to no lint at all.  Does that navel hygiene also extend to the microscopic level as well?

I doubt it. The human body recognizes piercings as foreign and so it registers an immune response to a piercing, but eventually that goes away. Any piercing makes you more susceptible to infection and open skin provides an ideal living condition for microbial life.

Also I never wash my belly button, but I do wash my chest and stomach and everything else, so I imagine that the soapy suds get in my belly button and clean it.