The story of AOBiome started on a brisk early spring day, where our founder, David Whitlock, was on a romantic stroll through a local suburban farm. Horses frolicked as they do every day. "Why do horses roll around in the dirt?" she asked. David posited that they must be getting rid of insects. The woman, unimpressed, retorted "It's March, there are no flies at this time of year…" Neither could come up with a reasonable and satisfactory answer.
Although the romantic stroll eventually led nowhere, the question stuck with David long after the walk. Why did horses roll around in the dirt? Actually, why did almost all animals roll around in the dirt, especially when they were hot and sweaty? Humans don't do that…or did they once?
David, being an MIT chemist by training, decided to head into the lab to look for answers. Knowing something about sweat chemistry, he brewed an artificial sweat solution and mixed in some dirt to see what might happen. As David suspected things started growing in the flask. A few months later he decided to apply the contents of the flask to see if the bacteria from the soil could survive on him, the way it might on a horse. To ensure the bacteria had a more natural environment in which to grow he decided to stop bathing. Horses don't use soap. Why should he? Not only did the bacteria thrive on his skin, but David felt better. He then handed some of bacteria to a few of his friends, and they felt better too. There must be something in the dirt…
As it turns out, David stumbled onto an extremely important element of the nitrogen cycle that exists everywhere on the planet - Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria or AOBs. Lakes, volcanoes, soil all contain AOB's. These bacteria consume ammonia and produce nitric oxide and nitrite - two building blocks of health and cellular function.
Until David's highly unorthodox experiment, AOB's were not known to live on the skin of humans using modern hygiene products. While they have been found in the microbiomes of the Yanomami tribe in Venezuela1 most modern hygiene products such as surfactant-containing soap are lethal to AOBs and thus AOBs are not found on "modern" humans.
AOBiome's mission is to reincorporate AOB's into the modern human microbiome for the purposes of moving people towards a more health state.