Scientists identify what causes body odour

Scientists have discovered what lies behind the armpit's ability to produce the pungent characteristic smell known as body odour or BO.

Researchers from the University of York have previously shown that only a few bacteria in your armpit are the real culprits behind BO.

But now, working with Unilever scientists, they have identified a unique BO enzyme found only in the bacteria that live under the arm that is responsible for the armpit odour.

30 PHOTOS
Pictures of the week: July 26 - August 1
See Gallery
Pictures of the week: July 26 - August 1
'THE END', by British artist Heather Phillipson, sits on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, England, on July 30, 2020. The installation, unveiled today, has seen its debut delayed from March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its depiction of a cherry-topped swirl of cream, plus a drone and fly, is described by its accompanying explanatory note as a 'monument to hubris and impending collapse'. The piece is the 13th commission to occupy the plinth and will remain in place until 2022. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Musicians of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective rehearse at Wigmore Hall in London ahead of a concert this Saturday August 1st, when indoor concerts and theatre performances with socially distanced audiences become possible in the UK.
A lady wearing sunglasses and colourful dress looks at a display board in a park. People relax during the warm summer weather as the temperature in England is expected to reach 30 degrees Celsius by the weekend. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Dermot Kennedy performs at the Natural History Museum on July 30, 2020 in London, England. The performance was livestreamed for ticket holders during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by SATELLITE414/Jennifer McCord via Getty Images)
A member of staff poses for photographs as the new commission by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei entitled "History of Bombs" which covers the floor and a staircase is showcased, in the Atrium at the Imperial War Museum in London, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The museum reopens to visitors on Saturday, Aug. 1 as the British government continue to relax their coronavirus restrictions, and will feature the new site-specific artwork that covers over 1,000 square feet and forms part of their Refugees season. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
The London Eye seen from across the Thames, which will reopen to the public on 1st August. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Historic Royal Palaces conservator vacuums around the throne in the King's Presence Chamber, during a media opportunity at Kensington Palace in London, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Following over four months of closure during lockdown, Kensington Palace will be reopening its doors once more to welcome visitors from Thursday, July 30. To celebrate the re-opening, the famous 'Travolta dress', worn by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, will go on display at the palace for the first time since it was acquired by Historic Royal Palaces at auction in 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Shoes laid out to depict the number 540 in front of the gates of Downing Street, London, to represent the number of fatalities of health and care workers in the UK believed to have died of COVID-19, during a protest by NHS workers to demand a pay rise. Participants include the members of Unite, Keep Our NHS Public and Nurses United.
Members of the public attend a drive-in cinema at Owlerton stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire on 28 July 2020. (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NHS staff protest outside Downing Street after marching from St Thomas's Hospital at the 'March For Pay Justice for NHS and Key Workers' on 29 July, 2020 in London, England. Protesters demonstrate against not being included in the government's pay deal for public sector workers amid the sacrifices and hardship experienced during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Lucy North MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Runners and Riders go to post for The tote.co.uk Is Back Tomorrow With A Placepot Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Bangor Racecourse, Wrexham.
Members of the public attend a drive-in cinema at Owlerton stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire on 28 July 2020. (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Sunrise at Blyth pier in Northumberland on the north east coast. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Adam Rossington of Northamptonshire warming up before the match during day one of the pre-season friendly match between Northamptonshire and Middlesex at The County Ground on July 28, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Andy Kearns/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Canal Side Heritage Centre in Beeston near Nottingham, England, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The government is launching a new cycling intuitive to help get people fitter. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, Pool)
Chair of the Board of Trustees Tony Hall (L) gives a speech as Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (C) and National Gallery Director Gabriele Finaldi look on during a visit to the recently reopened National Gallery in London on July 28, 2020. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
US Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London in London, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Hollywood actor Johnny Depp is suing News Group Newspapers over a story about his former wife Amber Heard, published in The Sun in 2018 which branded him a 'wife beater', a claim he denies.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Workers preparing a giant swirl of replica whipped cream topped with a cherry, a fly and a drone craned onto the 4th plinth at Trafalgar Square, central London. Heather Phillipson's sculpture, titled THE END, was due to be unveiled on 26 March but delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis. Its drone will transmit a live feed of the square which can be watched on a dedicated website. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Jamie Murray trains during day two of the St. James's Place Battle Of The Brits Team Tennis at National Tennis Centre on July 28, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images for Battle Of The Brits)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a black face mask featuring a number '10', due to the COVID-19 pandemic, talks to the owner of the the Cycle Lounge, Rodney Rouse, a bicycle repair shop in Beeston, central England, on July 28, 2020, during an event to launch the the government's new cycling intuitive to help get people fitter. - The British government promised Monday to build thousands of miles of new bike lanes to get people moving and healthy after months of coronavirus lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's pledge comes on the heels of a plan to force restaurants to display calories on menus as part of a broader effort to win the battle of the bulge. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP) (Photo by RUI VIEIRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
People stand by a social distancing information flyer on the glass window of the Beigel Bake bakery. The Government has made it mandatory to wear face coverings in all public transport, supermarkets and indoor shopping centers as a measure to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A woman feeds a Rose-ringed Parakeet on her outstretched arm at St James Park. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Passengers flying from Barcelona arrive at Birmingham Airport, following an announcement on Saturday that holidaymakers who had not returned from Spain and its islands by midnight would be forced to quarantine for 14 days after Covid-19 second wave fears saw the European country struck off the UK's safe list. The decision was made after Spain recorded more than 900 fresh daily Covid-19 cases for two days running.
People are seen on paddle boats on London�s Serpentine Lake. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Sunset over the Watch Tower in Seaton Sluice, Northumberland. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 26: (R-L) Darren Till of England punches Robert Whittaker of New Zealand in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 26, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26: manager Roy Hodgson of Crystal Palace and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur talk on pitch after the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on July 26, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish, centre,celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Aston Villa at the London Stadium in London, Sunday, July 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
England's Stuart Broad, center, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of West Indies' John Campbell during the third day of the third cricket Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, July 26, 2020. (Michael Steele/Pool via AP)
A ball is cleaned by ground staff during the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Brighton at the Turf Moor stadium in Burnley, England, Sunday, July 26, 2020. (Alex Livesey/Pool via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The study, published in Scientific Reports, highlights how particular bacteria have evolved a specialised enzyme to produce some of the key molecules recognised as BO.

Co-first author Dr Michelle Rudden from the group of Professor Gavin Thomas in the University of York's department of biology, said: "Solving the structure of this BO enzyme has allowed us to pinpoint the molecular step inside certain bacteria that makes the odour molecules.

"This is a key advancement in understanding how body odour works, and will enable the development of targeted inhibitors that stop BO production at source without disrupting the armpit microbiome."

The armpits are home to a diverse community of bacteria that is part of your natural skin microbiome.

Scientists identify Staphylococcus hominis as one of the main microbes behind body odour.

They say that this BO enzyme was present in S. hominis long before the emergence of Homo sapiens as a species, suggesting that body odour existed prior to the evolution of modern humans.

Researchers discovered the enzyme by transferring it to non-odour producing bacteria and found that it also began to produce a smell.

When the bacteria in the armpit encounter sweat they produce pungent products called thioalcohols which are responsible for the odour.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS