Armpit & Earwax Microbe Project

This project is an on-going collaboration between Dr. Julie Horvath at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences/NC Central University and Dr. Reade Roberts at NC State University.

This Project has been approved by the North Carolina Central University Institutional Review Board - IRB # 1201249

Do you have Wet or Dry earwax?


Wet earwax is typically a yellow, orange, or brown color and is wet and sticky
(Photo credit Gregory F. Maxwell)

Dry Earwax typically appears white, grey or light yellow and is dry and flaky
Dry Earwax is typically a white, grey or light yellow color and is dry and flaky
(Photo Credit Kelvinc)

Many people are unaware that this a simple trait controlled by variation at a single gene, ABCC11.  Thus, your earwax type is a great predictor of which ABCC11 variant you carry.

Your ancestry plays a role in which variant you are likely to have

Individuals with ancestry from Africa and Europe generally have wet earwax, while those with ancestry from Asia and North America are more likely to have dry earwax. We are in particular need of participants with dry earwax (or whose parents have dry earwax), but are happy to sample all who are interested (must be at least 18 years old).

See Early Results!

Check Out Participants' Ear Microbes! HERE

ear swab

We Need You (and Your Microbes) for Science!

We are looking for participants to be sampled for an exciting project linking human genetic variation to skin microbes on various body sites: armpits, ears, noses, and ankles. Our big goal is to determine if and how variation in a gene called ABCC11 impacts skin bacteria on humans.

What's it Like To Participate?

Participation will involve an approximately 30 minute session where your ears, armpits, ankles, and the outside of your nose will be swabbed, and you’ll complete a survey. In return you’ll receive (should you want it) your ABCC11 genotype, a photo of  the microbes dwelling in your ears, and of course, the intense satisfaction of supporting research and education.

We do not have any sampling events scheduled at the moment.

Check back here for updates or sign up for our email updates about this and other projects.

Email the Genomics & Microbiology Lab at NRCgenomicsMicro@gmail.com and put "Citizen Science" in the Subject line to get email updates about our citizen science projects. (sent 1-2 times a month)

Want to learn more about this and other projects?

Email the Genomics & Microbiology Lab at NRCgenomicsMicro@gmail.com and put "Citizen Science" in the Subject line to get email updates about our citizen science projects. (sent 1-2 times a month)