I am always (perhaps too much) scanning the blogosphere for anything related to FredCoBio news. This story I predict will make the Network news tonight or maybe tomorrow.
The entire article is published in Science (and will require a paid subscription to view your tax dollars at work), but ther have been a number of AP stories circulating on the blogesphere today. You can read the whole story at ScienceNOW:
Your Body Is a Wonderland … of Bacteria
By Stephanie Pappas
ScienceNOW Daily News
28 May 2009
Microbes that live in and on our bodies outnumber our own cells 10 to one, but researchers have only recently begun to catalog the residents on our skin. Traditionally, scientists identified human skin bacteria by swabbing volunteers and culturing the samples, but those results skewed toward microbes that grow well in the lab. Thanks to ever-evolving gene-sequencing technology, scientists can now use microbial RNA to identify organisms. With these techniques, researchers have found an unexpectedly wide variety of bacteria on human skin (Science, 23 May 2008, p. 1001). But no one had ever systematically compared bacterial colonies from different areas on the human body.
To do so, scientists from the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, recruited 10 volunteers and asked them to wash with mild soap for 1 week. Then, after 24 hours without bathing, the volunteers arrived at the lab, where researchers swabbed and scraped their skin in 20 places–everywhere from the nostril to the navel to that bane of low-rise jeans aficionados, the gluteal crease. The team analyzed ribosomal RNA from the samples and classified the microbes based on their genomes.
The researchers found about 1000 species total, which were fairly consistent from person to person; it turns out we all have similar tenants in our noses and on our backs. The number suggests that our skin is as variegated as our guts, which house anywhere from 500 to 1000 bacterial species. The team also found vast differences across the skin, according to the study published in tomorrow’s issue of Science. Contrary to what acne-prone teenagers might expect, oily areas such as the forehead and scalp are actually less diverse than dry areas such as the forearm (though one is enough for grief: Propionibacterium acnes thrives in oily spots). The most barren region was behind the ear, with a median diversity of 15 species. In comparison, the forearm teemed with a median 44 species. A follow-up with five of the volunteers months later found that bacterial makeup changed little over time.
The link to FredCoBio is simple. Alice Y. and I worked together in at Molecular Diagnostic Division of Life Tech, which is now known as Digene/Qiagen. She used to give us so many clothes passed down from her daughter, Rachel, to our oldest (now 20, yikes!). And Bob B. is an original BRL guy who lives in Frederick. I remember his wife worked the cash register at Martins on 7th street when we used to live in the city. Anyway, they are both at NHGRI now, along with a number of other former Life Tech people.
Pretty cool research and yet another deep tie into the FredCoBio community.