Scientists have uncovered the secret behind the unpleasant stench of body odor, The Guardian reports. The culprit is an enzyme called C-T lyase, found in the bacterium Staphylococcus hominis, which dwells in human armpits. These bacteria feed on odorless chemicals released in sweat, which the enzyme then converts into thioalcohols—a pungent compound responsible for the offending smell. After identifying the gene in S. hominis that codes for C-T lyase, the researchers inserted it into a different species of bacteria—one that usually plays no part in body smells. That bacteria suddenly began to produce body odor, confirming the enzyme as the guilty party, the researchers write this week in Scientific Reports. Knowing the precise enzyme responsible for body odor opens up possibilities for targeted, longer lasting deodorants and antiperspirants, the team says.
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