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Planet Earth

The ultimate case of TMI: Behold my bellybutton's microbiome

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerJanuary 25, 2011 8:00 PM


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Why is ScienceOnline a meeting like no other? Because it's the sort of meeting where a biologist named Rob Dunn can set up shop in the lobby to ask for samples of bellybutton shmutz that he can analyze for biological diversity. Not only is it a place where such a person will not be hustled out by security, but it's a place where a whole bunch of people respond by grabbing Q-tips to do their part for science. And you can bet every last bit of your bellybutton lint that I was right up near the front of the line. Ten days later, my sample is now thriving nicely on a Petri dish, awaiting a more detailed analysis of its DNA. And here are the rest of the samples from the meeting. All I can say is, #974, what is going on in there?

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