Armpit Science

In a recent cover story (“Letting Biodiversity Get under Our Skin,” Fall 2012), biologist and author Rob Dunn described how declining biodiversity might be linked to the growing prevalence of allergies and autoimmune diseases—and the critical role of microbes in the equation. The study of the human microbiome is taking off, and Dunn wants citizen scientists to help. At www.yourwildlife.org, he and colleagues have set up a number of projects to explore “the biodiversity that lives on us, in us, and around us.” Check out the data and recent PLOS ONE paper from the crowd-sourced Belly Button Biodiversity project, and find more details on their upcoming “Armpit-pa-looza.” So far, the science team has conducted a small study, dubbed “PitStart,” to look at the effects of deodorants and antiperspirants on microbial communities. Stay tuned for instructions on how to put your armpits to use for the good of science. ❧

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