Friday, March 2, 2012

Belly button biodiversity: What's growing in there?

One of the fun things about working at a college is that you get to constantly learn. And today, I learned about what lives in human belly buttons. Yes, you read right. The TCC Biotechnology Program invited high school students to hear from three science experts today, and one of them explained her research on the Belly Button Biodiversity project.

Nina Roundtree, a research assistant at North Carolina State University, spoke to students about the living organisms she and her colleagues found in samples taken from swabs inside about 100 peoples' belly buttons. She said they found more than 1,400 species of bacteria. Wow! So who are our little belly button neighbors? She explained how she and the team used DNA tests to find out what the bacteria were, but only the scientific names of the bacteria were listed in her Power Point. (I am not a scientist.)

If you want to find out more about this crazy topic, read about it in Discovery News. There is a great interview with the Rob Dunn, assistant professor in the Department of Biology at NCSU. But I'll give you a hint: there are fungi, yeasts and bacteria. Oh, and here are some  pictures.

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