1. Animals like birds use scents to exchange information 👃 These ‘smelly’ signals have an unexpected origin: #bacteria 🦠👇
Smell is one of the main senses for animals: it helps them in tasks such as detecting danger or locating food. Of course, birds aren’t an exception: they use odors to check out the hormonal state of a potential mate, so these substances are key for bird reproduction. Microorganisms are involved in this process! Bird scents are produced by bacteria that live in an special organ called preen gland. Within it, bacteria create many substances that secrete as oil. Like humans putting on deodorant, birds rub their bill over this gland to impregnate their feathers with it. Researchers have proved this by injecting antibiotics directly in the preen gland, observing that the odors change along with the bacterial communities. Looks like birds and bacteria have more in common than it may seem! To the publication>

2. Leaves may look dry to the eye, but they are covered with a thin layer of water 🍃💧 #Bacteria use them as the perfect shelter! 🦠👇
Water is vital for many living beings, including bacteria. The shortage of this liquid is a major threat for the millions of bacteria that live in the surface of leaves and contribute to the health of plants. During the daytime, higher temperatures dry dew drops off the leaf surfaces, compromising microbial survival. How do bacteria manage to survive? Researchers have found that, even if leaves appear to be completely dry during the day, they are actually covered by thin liquid films. These are composed by tiny water droplets that are invisible to the naked eye but that provide a shelter for bacteria to overcome the dryness. As always, bacteria find a way to persist when in troubled waters!  To the publication>

3. Diabetes affects millions of people around the world 💉 Now #Synbio could provide a novel strategy to fight this disease: light-controlled pancreatic cells! 💡👇
Diabetes affects millions of people around the world. It develops when there is low production of the hormone insulin or when the body becomes resistant to it. This leads to an excessive amount of sugar in blood, which is related to serious health problems. Now researchers have developed a novel strategy to tackle this disease! They have engineered cells that produce insulin in the pancreas, called beta cells, to make them secrete this hormone when exposed to blue light. Using this approach, practitioners would be able to switch on and off the insulin production using light and thus, help patients with low insulin production. The scientists tested the engineered cells in mice and noted that insulin levels in blood rose when the animals’ skin was exposed to blue light. This could be a decisive step towards the diabetes treatment!  To the publication> 

4. Take a look at these beautiful #AgarArt pieces! 🎨🦠 Guess who did them… 👩‍🔬 Ever heard about Alexander Fleming? 👇 Yep, that’s right!
Probably you have learnt about Alexander Fleming in school. After all, he was responsible for one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century: penicillin. But besides his scientific activity, Fleming painted, and he used a rather uncommon medium: microbes. He used agar to grow different microorganisms that produce natural pigments and timed his inoculations for the different species to mature at the same time. Using this technique, Fleming painted from soldiers to mothers feeding their children. He was one of the first agar artists ever!  To the publication>

5. Releasing the power of #Synbio: artificial chromosomes to improve DNA engineering 🧬🔧
Bacteria that produce spider silk. Microbes that can munch on oil spills. Synthetic biology can provide society with advances that years ago were just science fiction. This is particularly true for healthcare. Synbio research is changing the concept of ‘drug’ by engineering microbes that act as drugs themselves. ‘Living’ vaccines may become a real thing, as scientists are developing bacteria to act as a delivery system to replace syringes. The versatility of this scientific branch will boost healthcare and improve the wellbeing of the society!   To the publication>

6. Welcome to the Tropics! 🍹 Things can be a bit ‘wild’ here, but microorganisms follow a strict schedule 🦠⏰ Watch this video to know more! 👇
From the hottest volcano to the coldest glacier, microbes can be found almost everywhere. However, there are places where they are particularly abundant. Scientists have found that the air in the tropics is teeming with a rich and diverse range of at least 725 different microorganisms! And the microbe communities within tropical air aren’t interesting only because of their variety. Scientists took air samples at different moments and noted that species detected during daytime were very different than in the night, following a daily pattern. These changes may be driven by environmental conditions such as rain or carbon dioxide levels. On average, humans breathe in up to 11 cubic metres of air daily, so these kind of studies are key to better understand the impact that air microbes could have on our health.  To the publication>

7. The winner of #iGEM2019 in the undergrad category is the @NCKU_official team from Tainan! 🥇 They have engineered E. coli #bacteria to find a treatment for Chronic Kidney Disease 🦠 Congratulations! 👏
The synthetic biology competition iGEM celebrated its Giant Jamboree at the beginning of November. This year, the team from the Tainan University won this edition in the undergrad category! They have developed a creative synbio application to improve the quality of life of Chronic Kidney Disease patients. In this disease, the kidney gradually loses its function due to the accumulation of toxins produced by bacteria such as p-Cresol. These group of students have engineered a strain of Escherichia coli with the metabolic pathway to convert this toxin into a beneficial substance for the body, the aminoacid tyrosine. They have also enhanced E. coli bacteria to produce molecules to kill gut bacteria that produce the p-Cresol. This combined strategy could become a key treatment for this prevalent disease. Congratulations to the winners! To the publication>

8. Crazy for chocolate? 🍫 Well, then you should thank #microorganisms! These #AwesomeMicrobes produce most of the molecules for its flavour! 🦠👇
Beer, bread, wine… there are a lot of tasty foods and drinks that we can enjoy thanks to microorganisms! Chocolate is one of them, as several bacteria and yeast species play a key role in the fermentation of cocoa beans, the raw material of this sweet. During this process, bacteria munch on the sugars of cocoa fruits and release many different substances as byproduct that will provide chocolate with its unmistakable flavour. So next time you devour a chocolate bar, don’t forget to thank microorganisms for it! 

9. These #bacteria are painstaking artisans… but do they actually exist?🦠  Statue or book fixers? ⚒📕 Vote now in our #Synbio Quiz! 👇
And the answer is… A! Excesses of salt, the effects of global warming and increasing environmental pollution are damaging many cultural elements made of stone. To mitigate this deterioration, researchers are using bacteria that are able to produce an exceptionally strong cement-like substance. These microbes can be isolated from the same salt-damaged stone, so it is a sustainable strategy that doesn’t harm the rest of microbial communities. Moreover, as these bacteria can be isolated from many stone artworks, this approach can be applied as a worldwide conservation methodology. 

10….and in the darkness bind them!  👁 This month’s #AgarArt challenge is a tribute to the wonderful Frodo Baggins’ journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring! 💍🌋 We can’t wait to see your results! 🦠🎨 #art #LordOfTheRings
The odyssey of this short (but brave) hero that saved the Middle Earth became a classic of the 20th century literature. The movies describing his struggle to reach Mordor and destroy the One Ring remain in the memory of millions of people. Ever listened about Frodo Baggins? This month we have paid tribute to the Lord of the Rings saga the best way we could imagine: with our Agar Art Challenge!