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Human microbes are picky about neighbourhoods on body

Your body is home to 10 times as many microbes as its own cells. But they can be quite picky about where they will settle – and what other bacteria they'll share fences with.

That's the conclusion of the most comprehensive map ever of the microbial communities flourishing in the human body.

In addition, some unlikely-sounding parts of the body – such as the back of the knee and the index finger – have far more microbial diversity than the gut.

Elizabeth Costello at the University of Colorado in Boulder and her colleagues swabbed 18 sites on eight humans four times over the course of four months. The team wanted to find out what shapes bacterial communities across the body. Previously, it was unclear how important the specific location on the body was for encouraging bacteria compared with, for instance, variation between people or the progression of time.

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