Meet the Bacteria That Call Your Body Home


 

Tens of thousands of species of bacteria colonize your body. Some thrive in armpits, while others enjoy drier places such as the hands. Here's a visitor's guide to the human microbiome.

Forehead

Bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes, enemy of teenagers everywhere, feed on the skin's oil.

Ears

About 2000 species of bacteria live behind the ear—10 times fewer than in the intestine. "They have done a good job of outcompeting other species," Segre says.

Nose

Sufferers of chronic rhinosinusitis (inflamed sinuses) tend to have simpler bacterial ecosystems than those with healthy noses. Future treatments could diversify nasal bacterial populations.

Armpits

There's a reason why armpits smell bad: The bacteria living there break down sweat into stinky fatty acids. Different species of bacteria create distinct smells.

Gut

A healthy human gut is a diverse area, hosting an estimated 30,000 species of bacteria. Some species help us absorb food and calories.

Belly Button

After swabbing 200 belly buttons, researchers in North Carolina counted nearly 4000 strains of bacteria, some completely new to science. Innies have more microbes than outties.

 

 
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