London: Scientists have given the good old cheese a new twist by creating 11 new types using bacteria from the feet, mouths and belly buttons of humans.
The 11 funky cheeses are part of "Selfmade" project by US biologist Christina Agapakis and Norwegian scent expert Sissel Tolaas.
The cheeses, part of an exhibition about synthetic biology in Dublin, are made from bacterial cultures harvested from the skin of artists, scientists, anthropologists, and cheese makers using sterile cotton swabs.
Each cheese is crafted from starter cultures sampled from the skin of a different person.
Isolated microbial strains were identified and characterised using microbiological techniques and 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, scientists said.
"Like the human body, each cheese has a unique set of microbes that metabolically shape a unique odour," scientists said while explaining their project on its website.
Cheese odours were sampled and characterised using headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis, a technique used to identify and/or quantify volatile organic compounds present in a sample.
The project is described as "a series of `microbial sketches,` portraits reflecting an individual`s microbial landscape in a unique cheese."
"This project explores possibilities for a relational synthetic biology through the practises of cheese-making," the website said.
"It`s no surprise that sometimes cheese odours and body odours are similar," Agapakis was quoted by the Dezeen magazine as saying.
"But when we started working together we were surprised by how not only do cheese and smelly body parts like feet share similar odour molecules but also have similar microbial populations," Agapakis said.
"Nobody will eat these cheeses, but we hope that the cheese can inspire new conversations about our relationship to the body and to our bacteria," she said.