The skin—the human body’s largest organ—is teeming with microbes: bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses. But compared with other parts of the body, the skin does not support a high-biomass microbiome. Thus, microbiome sampling and sequencing for skin require special knowledge and handling.

Microbiome Insights has developed expertise in the skin microbiome through our work with leading scientists and top commercial organizations. We are here to help you decide on the sampling and sequencing strategies that will capture a picture of skin microbes suitable for answering your particular questions.

Services we offer:

Microbiome Insights now offers a unique 16S V4 protocol, V4_skin, optimized for skin samples. This pipeline provides:

  • Up to 10 times lower error rate relative to the 16S V1-V3 region
  • Better detection of bacteria representative of the skin microbiome that are underdetected by sequencing the V1-V3 region
  • Better representation of P. acnes compared to common V4 primers


Sampling the skin microbiome with one single swab may limit your volume of DNA to be used on more than one test. To best optimise your downstream process, it is recommended to use two swabs (or one BD DBL CultureSwab II) to maximize your DNA content per sampling session.

Internal validations have shown that skin microbiome recovery is optimized using premoistened swabs as compared to dry swabs or skin tapes. This optimization results in overall higher microbial DNA content while minimizing host DNA content. We recommend using the Becton-Dickinson, BBL Cultureswab EZ II (or similar), which includes a double swab encased in a non-breathable transport tube.