Scientists have found 662 unclassified bacteria strains from human navel swabs.
The Belly Button Biodiversity Project, done by scientists at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, has been analyzing navel swabs from a host of volunteers, according to Daiily Mail
So far, they've found 1,400 distinct bacterial strains, nearly half of which have never been seen before.
The project was conceived as a light-hearted effort to interest the public in microbiology, and to counter the common view that bacteria are nothing but causes of disease. Bacteria and humans have a complicated relationship .Most of the times they defend the body against infection and also act as decomposers of waste material from out body.
The belly button according to the project head Jiri Hulcr is an ideal sampling point because it doesn't get as scrubbed and sprayed with chemicals as much other, more accessible parts.
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.
The team has limited themselves to DNA from bacteria, which means the fungi, viruses and other creatures lurking in our belly button are another matter altogether.
Science writers Carl Zimmer, who is a columnist for New York Post and Discovery and Peter Aldhous (from New Scientist) both donated a sample of their belly button.
Peter Aldhous was found to be relatively clean with no unnamed bacteria, Zimmer’s sample was found to be more interesting.
His belly button harbored at least 53 species of bacteria. He apparently had a species Marimonas, only been found in the ocean before. He also carried something called Georgenia found only living in the soil of Japan.
When he informed project chief Hulcr that he had never been to Japan, Hulcr answered maybe Japan had been to him.
The simple explanation is 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.
Apparently all bacteria can survive without human beings but it's us humans who cannot survive without them.