1. A farewell to antibiotic-resistant #bacteria! 🦠🚫 This new plastic film could keep these microbes off surfaces 👇

Most bacteria are harmless but there are a few species that can infect us and make us ill. These potentially dangerous microbes can become a real headache for professionals working in restaurants or hospitals, where an unexpected pathogen can hurt a large amount of people. Now, these researchers may have found a solution. They have developed a new material that can repel any microorganism! This substance keeps both liquid droplets and bacteria from making a solid contact. If either of these land on the material, they bounce! The material takes the form of a transparent plastic film that is flexible enough to be shrink-wrapped onto surfaces that are touched frequently. This simple yet clever invention could solve hazards such as food contamination or infections during hospitalisation! To the publication>

2. Smooth and teeming with #bacteria! 🦠 This silk coating soaked with #microbes could power seeds up to grow in salty soils! 🧂🌱

In a world with an ever-growing population, increasing the amount of crops turned into a priority for researchers. Nowadays, they are turning their heads to salty soils, where normally plants can’t grow, to make them suitable for farming. With this in mind, these scientists are coating seeds with silk cocoons to protect them from the high salinity of these soils. But they didn’t stop here: they decided to add the power of bacteria! Researchers soaked the silk coatings with microbes that naturally produce a nitrogen fertilizer. Combining the protection of the silk and the nutritive effect of these bacteria, seeds will have it easy to grow even in the harshest soils! To the publication>

3. How can you turn waste products into aromatic substances? 🤔 #Synbio, of course! 🧬💡

Nowadays, there are many companies that are betting on a sustainable production of chemicals and fuels, giving up on fossil fuels to embrace more renewable and cleaner sources. An example of this is the industrial activity that makes biofuels from crops but regretfully, it is hard for it to compete economically with the fossil fuel industry, as the latter has more established technologies. Now this research team has come up with a strategy to overcome this situation: taking advantage of the plant waste from crops! Scientists are using Escherichia coli bacteria to cheaply turn this waste into coniferol, a high-value chemical used in fragrances and washing powders. Thanks to this value-adding, the production of biofuels could become cost-effective! To the publication>

4. Sweet, suitable for diabetics and 100% made of #bacteria! 🍭 Microbes could provide an alternative to table sugar! 🦠

If you go to the supermarket and take a look through the shelves, you’ll find that a great amount of products contain sucrose, the technical name for the table sugar. Even if it makes food delicious, this sweet substance poses one of the main health problems of our time. An alternative could be tagatose, a molecule almost as sweet as sucrose but with less calories and safer for diabetics. But there’s a catch: tagatose is a little complicated to produce. Now researchers are using bacteria to produce it! The Lactobacillus plantarum species can break down galactose to produce tagatose with a higher yield and faster than chemical procedures. Maybe we will add bacterial sweeteners to our coffees instead of sugar in the future! To the publication>

5. #Synbio yields astonishing advances that are worth to spread 📢 Read this interview to @konvavitsas to learn more about how #synbio stories are told! 🧬🔧

Concrete that repairs itself. Tiny microbes that can eat oil spills from the ocean. Synthetic biology is providing us with advanced technologies that have the potential to make exciting stories. However, even if synbio discoveries are appealing, communicating them successfully can be a challenge. After all, telling a story has its own rules, even if it is a scientific one! If you want to know more about the art of storytelling in synthetic biology, you can’t miss this interview with Karl Schmieder, a communications consultant in biotechnology and synthetic biology. You will find advice about how to engage with your audience when talking about this discipline or what you should have in mind when explaining the most recent synbio innovation. We hope you find it useful! To the publication>

6. Masters of deception! 🦸‍♀️These #bacteria can disguise as red blood cells to avoid being hunted 🦠

While most bacteria are inoffensive, some of them can be harmful for us. And there are various types of harmful microbes that take their pathogen job very seriously. These bacteria from the Streptococcus genus are a great example of this, as they have plotted a way to avoid being destroyed by the immune system. When these microbes infect our body, they blank their surfaces with molecules that resemble those that red blood cells have in their own surfaces. This trick gives the pathogens “cloaks of invisibility” that allow them to pass as human cells! These microscopic wolves in sheep’s clothing are very clever! To the publication>

7. Plastic straws are a growing pollutant in our oceans 🥤 This company is using #bacteria to obtain biodegradable plastics! 🦠♻

Plastic pollution has already become one of the major challenges of the 21st century.  This is particularly true for the oceans, as between 60 to 90 per cent of the litter that accumulates on the sea is made up of plastic. Single-use plastic products such as straws are one of the culprits of this situation: their useful life is very short, but afterwards they will remain in the environment for centuries. Now, bacteria can help to overcome this situation! This industry-academia collaboration is making straws made of PHA, a plastic produced by bacteria such as Bacillus megaterium. This bioplastic is a more sustainable alternative to make single-use products, as it doesn’t need petrochemicals to be made and they degrade much faster! To the publication>

8. Camouflage can be the best defense! 🦑 This squid has glowing #bacteria living within it to avoid predators! 🦠💡

The Hawaiian bobtail is no bigger than a thumb, but it has a great alliance with microbes! This squid houses bioluminescent bacteria of the Vibrio fischeri species in a special light organ. The light emitted by these microbes is very close to the light coming from the moon and stars at night so, for fish looking up from below for something to eat, the squid are camouflaged because they don’t cast a shadow. In exchange, microbes get nutrients and a safe place to reproduce! To the publication>

9. Honey made of #bacteria 🍯 Vegan cookies made of fat produced by #microorganisms 🍪 Could we find this tasty food in our #synbio pantry? 🤔 Vote in our #Synbio test! 👇

This time, both bacteria that featured our Synbio test actually exist! On the one hand, students from the Israel Institute of Technology have developed a bee-free honey produced by an engineered Bacillus subtilis that processes a nectar-like solution using secreted enzymes that mimic the environment of the bee’s stomach. On the other, the company Perfect Day is already engineering bacteria to produce different substances that allow to replace animal fat and proteins from products like ice cream or cheese with vegan alternatives!

10. The year has just started… time to get a calendar! 📅 Now you can have one cute #AwesomeMicrobe every month! Click here to get the Bact to the Future calendar! 🦠🎅 

We know it’s already February, but let us wish you a Happy New Year! To celebrate the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, we decided to do something special. We’ve collected our best Awesome Microbes banners and we’ve arranged them within a calendar! Now you can have our cute bacteria hanging on your wall and learn an amazing fact about them every single month. Click on this link to download it!