The pungent smell of armpits can put anyone off.
While travelling in a crowded bus or metro, especially during summers, things can get crammed up with body odour in close spaces.
Scientists have found a particular enzyme in a certain microbe responsible for underarm odour and they believe that their discovery would pave the way for more effective deodorants and antiperspirants.
The study of tracing the source of armpit’s smell was carried out by researchers at the University of York.
The researchers have divulged that the armpit-dwelling species named Staphylococcus hominis was a major contributor to the underarm odour.
"We’ve discovered how the odour is produced. What we really want to understand now is why," said Prof Gavin Thomas, a senior microbiologist on the team.
In order to confirm what they have found is true, the scientists transferred the enzyme to a neutral member of the underarm microbe community. What they observed was surprising. The neutral member also began to give out a pungent smell.
The study published in the journal Scientific Reports revealed that humans inherited it from their more primitive predecessors.
The enzymes produced by the bacteria become firmly attached to odourless compounds produced by the body's apocrine glands.
Human body has two types of glands - apocrine and eccrine. The apocrine glands are only found under the arm, around the nipple and external genitalia and they are in the skin and generate sweat. These glands open into hair follicles.
On the other hand, eccrine glands open directly onto the skin and are responsible for the body’s cooling system.
The researchers during their study examined how Staphylococcus hominis made thioalcohols, which are produced as a byproduct when microbes feast on other compounds present on the skin.
“The bacteria take up the molecule and eat some of it, but the rest they spit out, and that is one of the key molecules we recognise as body odour,” said Thomas.