Plating Pit Microbes

Over the last few days, we’ve shared updates and observations from #PitStart, a pilot study examining the effects of deodorants and antiperspirants on armpit microbes, coordinated by our friends in the Genomics and Microbiology Lab at the Nature Research Center.

You may have heard our scientists and volunteer participants mention plates of their armpit bacteria. By plates, we’re referring to petri dishes – not dinner plates – that contain a special nutritious medium on which the microbes can grow. You got a close-up of my plates from the first day of #PitStart as well as those belonging to volunteer David da Souza from Day 4 of the experiment.

We want to get you involved in the whole process of doing science with the Your Wild Life team so today we’re taking you into the lab with Meg, an intern in the Genomics & Microbio Lab (you met her this summer). Meg’s spent the better part of last week plating out #PitStart samples and will show you how we go from a sterile Q-tip covered in armpit bacteria to pretty colonies on a plate.

Watch and learn!

By |2016-11-22T13:47:32-05:00September 5th, 2012|

About the Author:

Holly Menninger
As Director of Public Science, Holly coordinates our empire of citizen science projects and manages the online science communication here at Your Wild Life. An entomologist by training, she’s a science communicator by passion and practice.


  1. Avatar
    KA October 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Watching this clip made me wonder if contamination of samples –from mouth or nose of subject or researchers — can affect results?

  2. Avatar
    LUANN BRIDLE February 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Heard about your studies today on People’s Pharmacy (2-24-13). I am interested in participating, however I do not as a practice wear deorarant. Contact if you need a participant. I live in Stokes County, NC near Hanging Rock State Park. Blessings, Luann

  3. Avatar
    Nina March 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Is this project still going on?

    • Holly
      Holly March 25, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Nina! We’re in the process of analyzing microbe data from the first round of the PitStart project (conducted in summer 2012) – Stay tuned to the website where we’ll post opportunities to get involved in subsequent rounds of armpit research. Thanks for your interest!

  4. Avatar
    Loot June 12, 2013 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Doing a little research on the subject of stink because I have a daughter who is too young to care that she smells (regardless of showers and deodorant ) and wondering what i can do to save her the years of embarrassment I went through I came across your experiment…. My pitts started smelling before puberty, and are still smelling strong in my later years with the hormonal changes of life. I’ve always mused about being a test subject for deodorant AND antiperspirant companies! I apply one of each at night (multiple brands together in hopes of getting it right) and hope they are still working by morning. In fact, I can usually tell by how the antiperspirant ‘feels’ once it has dried if it is going to be a long lasting day or not. I sometimes can’t make it an hour with the stuff on without a smell, so I can’t imagine not wearing it on purpose! I’d love to know what bacteria is growing, how spicy foods I eat play into it ( and they do!) and how to make the smells go away. If you need more test subjects I’ve got some Texas pitts for you! A mother / daughter duo to boot!

  5. Avatar
    Dr. Lance Johnson September 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I teach a college microbiology course (Nursing and Biology majors) and would love to have our students participate in the armpit study. Let me know what I can do to be involved.

    • Holly
      Holly September 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Lance! We’ll be in touch when our armpit project launches at-large (to date, it’s been more of the pilot study variety). In the meantime, I’d encourage you to take a look at some of the materials associated with our Belly Button Biodiversity project. There’s opportunities and protocols for students to analyze data and conduct their own related experiments:

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