SMELLY armpits are inherited from cavemen who carried the same bacteria as humans do today, experts claim.
A UK team found that a key odour-forming enzyme exists in only a few armpit bacteria — and evolved there millions of years ago.
The study was carried out by boffins from the University of York and industrial giant Unilever.
Biologist professor Gavin Thomas said the finding “will enable the development of targeted inhibitors that stop BO production at source without disrupting microbes in the armpit”.
He added: “Solving the structure of this BO enzyme allowed us to pinpoint the molecular step inside certain bacteria that makes the odour molecules.
Although the team says “the armpit hosts a diverse community of bacteria,” the whiff maker is a bug named staphylococcus hominis.
The research adds: “This was present long before the emergence of homo sapiens as a species.
“That suggests body odour existed prior to the evolution of modern humans, and may have had an important role in communication among ancestral primates.”
Unilever researcher Dr Gordon James said: “This research was a real eye-opener.
“It was fascinating to discover that a key odour-forming enzyme exists in only a select few armpit bacteria – and evolved there tens of millions of years ago.”
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