Beauty may be skin deep, but our body's outer coating has an ugly side, too: microbes. Researchers reported at the __American Society of Human Genetics__ linkurl:meeting; in Philadelphia today (Nov. 13) that they have drawn up a head-to-toe map of the microorganisms crawling on our skin. "The skin is two square meters of ecosystems comprised of a variety of habitats and niches, and each of these habitats harbors its own microflora," said linkurl:Elizabeth Grice,;,EA a genomicist at the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute. Earlier this year, Grice and her colleagues charted the microbial communities inhabiting the inner elbows of five healthy people linkurl:(__Genome Res__, 18:1043-50, 2008).; Now, her team has expanded their exploratory skin scan to include 21 locations across the entire bodies of 10 people.

Skin bacteria cultured on blood agar

For one week, her 10 volunteers washed with Dove soap -- a mild disinfectant with no anti-bacterial...
eczemapsoriasisImage courtesy of Bill Branson, NIH

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