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The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It is colonized by diverse microorganisms that cause no harm to their host.

The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It is colonized by diverse microorganisms that cause no harm to their host.

Sample Answer 

The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It is colonized by diverse microorganisms that cause no harm to their host.

Microorganisms in the Skin Microbiome

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. This organ is colonized by a milieu of microorganisms, most of which are beneficial or just harmless to the human body. The presence of the microorganisms and type of microbes on the skin is controlled by the ecological environment that one is in, topographical location, and individual host factors (Grice & Segre, 2011). Understanding the skin microbiome is important for understanding microbial involvement in different skin processes and disorders. There are several molecular methods that have been developed to identify microorganisms. These methods have shown that the resident microorganisms in human skin are quite diverse. The following essay evaluates some of the common microorganisms found in human skin and the molecular methods used to identify them.

Common Residents of the Skin Microbiome

The skin ecosystem is about a 1.8 m2 area of diverse habitats for different types of microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Most of these microorganisms are symbiotic in nature. They benefit from a wide range of skin niches and, in return, protect the human body from invasion by other harmful microorganisms (Grice & Segre, 2011). However, some microorganisms commonly found in the skin can cause clinical infections. A majority of the microorganisms in the skin microbiome are bacteria. Some examples of the common residents include Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mitis, Cutibacterium acnes, Corynebacterium spp., and Acinetobacter johnsonii.

Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus

            These are two bacteria that share a genus. Both of them are common skin flora, and they do not commonly cause infections (Baviera et al., 2014). They can be specifically differentiated using a Mannitol Salt Agar (MSA). An MSA is a test used to differentiate bacteria that live in high salt concentration areas, such as Staphylococcus. The differential ingredient included in this test is sugar mannitol. Microorganisms that can use mannitol as a food source produce acidic byproducts of fermentation to lower the pH of the solution (Baviera et al., 2014). Staphylococcus aureus is capable of feeding on mannitol; thus, it can be identified when the pH of the solution is lowered, turning into a yellowish pigment. On the other hand, Staphylococcus epidermidis is not capable of feeding on mannitol; thus, it does not change the solution pH nor alter its pigmentation (Baviera et al., 2014).

Streptococcus mitis

            Streptococcus mitis is a common flora found in the skin, mucus, female genital tract, and gastrointestinal tract. It can cause life-threatening infections. This can be tested in a blood agar plate (BAP). This is a solution made of 5% sheep red blood cells (Watson, n.d). The test examines the microbes’ ability to damage red blood cells through the production of hemolysins. Bacteria of the genus Streptococcus tend to produce hemolysins but at a different rate. S. mitis undergoes partial hemolysin in a BAP test (Baviera et al., 2014). This causes its colonies to be surrounded by a greenish opaque zone, which is what sets it apart from other bacteria of the same species.

Cutibacterium acnes

            This is the bacteria responsible for the common skin condition, acne. This bacteria can be tested using Tryptone Soya Agar Blood Agar (TSA), a growth media that allows several microorganisms to grow (Watson, n.d). C. acnes growth can be identified by its semi-opaque, convex, glistening, and pigmented array of colors. They present in a wide array of colors ranging from white to red. A TSA that demonstrates such a presentation can be classified as positive for Cutibacterium acnes.

Corynebacterium spp.

            Corynebacterium is a common inhabitant of the skin and mucus. It can sometimes cause infections in its host. This bacteria can be identified by tests on blood or McConkey agar. The factor that differentiates this bacteria from others is that it does not grow in this stain. Therefore, when presented on the McConkey solution, no change will be identified (Baviera et al., 2014).

Acinetobacter johnsonii.

            Acinetobacter johnsonii is commonly found in animals and the environment. However, it can occasionally colonize the skin. This bacteria can also cause clinical infections. This bacteria can be tested on McConkey agar. Although they are generally considered non-lactose fermenting, they partially ferment the lactose in McConkey solution (Watson, n.d). They turn to a blue-purple deposit in a McConkey solution.


            There is a much wider range of microorganisms that have not been covered in this essay. Most of the skin microbes are bacteria, but a few fungi and viruses have also been found to be common in some skin niches. A majority of them can be examined using gram staining tests using different solutions. These tests examine their different reactions to the components of the stains.


Baviera, G., Leoni, M. C., Capra, L., Cipriani, F., Longo, G., Maiello, N., … & Galli, E. (2014). Microbiota in healthy skin and in atopic eczema. BioMed research international, 2014.

Grice, E. A., & Segre, J. A. (2011). The skin microbiome. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 9(4), 244.

Watson, R. (nd). Summary of Biomedical tests. Retrieved from:


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The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It is colonized by diverse microorganisms that cause no harm to their host.

The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It is colonized by diverse microorganisms that cause no harm to their host. What microorganisms are found commonly in the skin microbiome? What laboratory methods that we have used in class would you use to identify these microorganisms and why?

The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It is colonized by diverse microorganisms that cause no harm to their host.

The skin is the human body’s largest organ. It is colonized by diverse microorganisms that cause no harm to their host.

Be sure to list the specific microorganisms and how the methods you choose would specifically differentiate one from the others. Don’t generalize. Don’t list out lab procedures step by step. Research the microorganisms and tell what their test results would be, and how that differs from the others.

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