And now it’s official! We just published our first findings from the Belly Button Biodiversity project in the scientific research journal PLOS ONE (It’s an open access journal so you can read and download the whole thing right here).
We approached the data collected from this first batch of 60 navels much like an explorer approaches a newly discovered patch of rainforest; we started by asking very basic questions, namely what and how many species live there.
Turns out, belly buttons are a jungle of microbial biodiversity: we detected over 2300 species! And get this, only eight of those 2300 species– we call them oligarchs – were quite frequent and abundant, present in more than 70% of the individuals we sampled.
Our fearless leader Rob Dunn shares his thoughts on what these results mean and what mysteries remain to be solved (hint: there are many) in a new post on the Scientific American Guest Blog.
And here’s some more great news coverage on the paper from:
- The Abstract (NC State’s news blog), Matt Shipman: Navel-Gazing Researchers ID Which Species Live In Our Belly Buttons (But Don’t Know Why)
- Inkfish, Elizabeth Preston: Belly Button Safari: Who’s Living in There?
- News release from NC Museum of Natural Sciences: Navel-Gazing Researchers ID Which Species Live In Our Belly Buttons (But Don’t Know Why)
- PLOS ONE Community Blog, Souri Somphanith: Plunging into the Unknown: Belly Button Bacteria and You
- The Loom, Carl Zimmer: On the Occasion of My Belly Button Entering the Scientific Literature
- Wired.Co.UK, Philippa Warr: Belly button bacteria oligarchs dominate our navel’s ecosystem
- Ars Technica, John Timmer: Belly Button Biodiversity finds no two navels are quite the same
- The Scientist, Beth Marie Mole: Navel Bugs
- Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan: It’s a Jungle Down There
- Smithsonian SmartNews Blog, Rachel Nuwer: A Flourishing Community Dwells Within Your Belly Button
- National Geographic Daily News, Shannon Fischer: What Lives in Your Belly Button? Study Finds “Rain Forest” of Species
- New Scientist Short Sharp Science, Joanna Carver: Belly button samples reveal wonderland of fluffy fauna
- Boston Globe Brainiac, Elizabeth Manus: Hey, there are oligarchs in my navel!
- Daily Mail (UK), Damien Gayle: What really lives in your belly button – researchers reveal ‘rainforest’ of bacteria
- The Body Odd on NBCNews.com, Cari Nierenberg: You may be surprised by what’s living in your navel!
And as always, we’re eager to hear what you think – Were the results surprising to you? What factors do you think might explain individual variation in belly button microbes? Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your thoughts on Twitter #bellybutton.