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Your BELLY-BUTTON!

  • by Cannibetrue
  • Jul 03 2011 05:19 AM
  • 12 Replies
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  • A Man Chooses...

  • Cannibetrue
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Posted 03 July 2011 - 05:19 AM

Belly button biomes begin to blossom

22:30 30 June 2011
Peter Aldhous, San Francisco bureau chief

The human navel should be designated as a bacterial nature reserve, it seems. The first round of DNA results from the Belly Button Biodiversity project are in, and the 95 samples that have so far been analysed have turned up a whopping total of more than 1400 bacterial strains. In 662 cases, the microbes could not even be classified to family, "which strongly suggests that they are new to science", says team leader Jiri Hulcr of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

The project was conceived as a light-hearted exercise in science communication, but is making a serious contribution to the understanding of microbial diversity. Since New Scientist wrote about the initiative in April, samples of bacteria taken when volunteers swabbed their navels with Q-tips have had their "DNA barcodes" read by sequencing the gene for 16S ribosomal RNA, widely used in studies of bacterial evolutionary relationships.

My own sample was among 10 per cent of those in the first round in which reactions to amplify the DNA present failed - so the next installment of the comparison of my belly button biome with that of fellow science writer Carl Zimmer will have to wait for another day. Still, Zimmer has already been having some fun with his results, finding among other things that his belly button hosts Georgenia bacteria, previously found in Asian soils.

Results like this reflect our ignorance of microbial diversity, Hulcr suggests: the inhabitants of our navels seem weird because biologists haven't sampled sufficiently extensively to document the full diversity of microbial life in a variety of habitats. He likens reactions to the first round of belly button results to the astonishment of the first European explorers seeing African big game - which today seem commonplace. "Now you're expecting rhino and elephants," Hulcr says.

Also, identifying bacteria to species is difficult. Noah Fierer's team at the University of Colorado, Boulder, classified them into "operational taxonomic units" having 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences that differed by 3 per cent or less. Apply this standard to mammals, Hulcr explains, and dogs and cats would be lumped together. It means that a "match" between a belly button strain and a species known from the deep ocean, for instance, may actually represent two microbes separated by several million years of divergent evolution.

Although the total number of strains recorded was large, the results so far indicate that a small group of about 40 species accounts for around 80 per cent of the bacterial populations of our belly buttons. "It is tempting to think of the abundant species as the good, core biome of bacteria and the rare ones as transients, struggling to take hold, sometimes at our expense," says Rob Dunn, author of The Wild Life of Our Bodies, and head of the lab in which Hulcr works.

Confirming that theory will require studies on a new scientific frontier: belly button ecology.

Replies (12)

  • Shmoke

  • Chilln
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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:29 PM

So basically our belly button is a breeding ground for strains of bacteria?

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  • yurigadaisukida
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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:48 PM

proof of evolution... again...

wake up crazies we are evolving bacteria in our own bellies

  • Captain of the USS Buttocks

  • Sam_Spade
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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:40 PM

The only thing I have growing in mine is lint!

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  • *ColtClassic*
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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:42 PM

Body shots anyone? :P

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  • wendyB
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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:52 AM

Belly buttons can be sexy, but they can also be prime real estate for bacterial colonies. The bacteria represents important advances in divergent evolution. Our naval is bacterial nature reserve. How many bacteria does it have?

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  • wendyB
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Posted 07 July 2011 - 05:16 AM

Navels could be hot and ticklish. The reality is that not everybody goes in there with soap, baby oil and Q-Tips. Belly button Diversity project researchers welcome the grime, as your belly button bacteria tells a tale. It's a true story about divergent progression, and it's a page-turner. New belly button bacteria furthers study of evolution as it is called bacterial nature reserve. Cleaning habits – or lack thereof – have made amazing discoveries possible. As few people wash their belly buttons with soap, the chance for microbial growth increases. Is was suggested that there may be links between belly button bacteria and microbes that have previously only been found on the deep ocean floor. This opens entirely new avenues of inquiry within the study of divergent evolution, the accumulation of differences between groups which can lead to the formation of new species.

  • Rotties4ever has left a great legacy. (Bring back Rep)

  • Rotties4Ever
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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:10 AM

proof of evolution... again...

wake up crazies we are evolving bacteria in our own bellies


w/e you can call me crazy for believing in God, just know that proving evolution is not the same as proving there is no God,,,its pretty pathetic when children have a view and some one doesn't agree with it, since debating logically is out of the question since it is more challenging (kids hate challenges), throwing words like crazy is obviously much much easier

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  • yurigadaisukida
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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:16 AM

w/e you can call me crazy for believing in God, just know that proving evolution is not the same as proving there is no God,,,its pretty pathetic when children have a view and some one doesn't agree with it, since debating logically is out of the question since it is more challenging (kids hate challenges), throwing words like crazy is obviously much much easier


no i didnt call religious people crazy, i think people who call science a lie because of a misinterpreted bible passage are crazy.

sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • A Man Chooses...

  • Cannibetrue
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Posted 09 July 2011 - 10:12 PM

[quote name='Rotties4Ever']w/e you can call me crazy for believing in God, just know that proving evolution is not the same as proving there is no God,,,[/quote]

I agree with this but..

[quote]its pretty pathetic when children have a view and some one doesn't agree with it, since debating logically is out of the question since it is more challenging (kids hate challenges), throwing words like crazy is obviously much much easier[/quote]

This sounds like most of the religious people I've ever met...:wave:[/QUOTE]

  • PLUR

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 10:21 PM

Ah, so that's why if you stick your finger in your belly button and pull it out it smells like poop cheese.

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  • iSmokeElote
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Posted 19 July 2011 - 11:17 PM

My belly button smells like shit...

  • Cannabist

  • Mister Meaner
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Posted 19 July 2011 - 11:24 PM

I always wondered what the other side of my belly button was connected to. I could look it up, but I like to have a little mystery to think about.




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