A new research is saying that an innie belly button is home to at least 60 to 100 species of organisms.
Among the findings besides bacteria were "fungi" and "interesting yeasts".
"They are partners more intimate than our lovers, children, pets or any other organisms," scientist Rob Dunn said. "You are covered in unknown life. That life is doing things for or to you. Don't you feel like you should know about it?"
Rob Dunn, an assistant professor in the North Carolina State University's biology department, and his colleagues collected skin bacteria from the belly buttons of 391 men and women of different ages and ethnic backgrounds from across the nation. The test subjects even had diverse hygienic habits.
The findings will be presented at the Ecological Society of America's 96th Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on August 12.
"Although we find about 60 or 70 species on the average person, we have found more than 1400 species overall, such that differences among individuals are great," said Rob Dunn to Discovery News. The team cultured the organisms and are currently sequencing each species' DNA.
The belly button is home to microbes that often do not get disturbed by ultraviolet light, cleansers and such. Each person carries his own unique mix of organisms, and the number varies significantly.
"So far, we don't see clear explanations for why people differ so much in terms of their bacterial communities from person to person," Dunn said. "The differences we see don't match up easily with gender, ethnicity, age or even washing frequency. Something else is going on."
Nevertheless, a common group of bacterial species in our bellies is shared among most of us.
But don't freak out and go on a crazy sterilizing frenzy.
Dunn reminds that some organisms serve a crucial function to overall health, as a kind of "first line defense against pathogens that land on us, a kind of living army on our skin."