1. Halloween is coming! 🎃 What about some spooky bacteria to celebrate it? 👻 These zombie #AwesomeMicrobes will fill your nightmares 🧟♂️
Here come the living dead! Well, don’t panic! Although they are known as ‘zombie’ bacteria, they have no interest in devouring your brain. These microbes are called this way because they can enter a “deep sleep” mode. While in this state, all the vital processes slow right down to an extremely low level. This is a survival strategy that bacteria use to resist extended periods of starvation. Sorry for the scare!
2. Biobricks made of microscopic fungi 🍄 Microalgae in the walls to absorb sunlight 🦠 #Microbes and #Synbio may be part of the future architecture 🏢👇
Most urban buildings around the world have something in common: they are built using traditional construction processes that demand huge amounts of energy and non-renewable resources. The alternative for a sustainable architecture could rely on synthetic biology! Many professionals from biological and technical fields are already coming out with innovative improvements that may give shape to the homes of the future. These proposals go from using fungi as a building material or creating algae-based solar panels to naturally heat up our homes to even growing a full home out of a tree! Synthetic biology may provide the means to create natural and sustainable houses in the future! To the publication>
3. Does your food taste bland?🧂 These #microorganisms are willing to spice it up! 🦠 #Microbe-made flavours coming soon to your plate! 👇
Do you like paella? Well, part of its delicious flavor is thanks to one of its ingredients: saffron! Obtaining this spice is quite arduous though. It is extracted from the crocus flower and like this, almost all the spices we use to add flavours to our meals are obtained from plants. Sometimes, this can increase their price – 250,000 crocus flowers are needed only for a kilogram of saffron! However, some of these tasty molecules could be elaborated by bacteria. Researchers are engineering bacteria and yeast to produce spices like vanillin – the main flavor compound in natural vanilla extract. As microbes need less time and space to grow, using them could make these flavours cheaper. Maybe the next-generation paella will contain saffron made by bacteria! To the publication>
4. Wood 🌳 + spider silk 🕸 = resistant material 💪 #Synbio can provide unbelievable combinations like this from @VTTFinland & @AaltoUniversity! 👇
What do a tree and a spider have in common? At first sight, not much. For synthetic biology though, these are the pieces to craft a novel plastic alternative! The pulp of the birch tree can be broken down to cellulose nanofibrils that make a stiff scaffold, providing firmness to the final material. Researchers have engineered bacteria to produce silk protein, the basic blocks that form the natural silk produced by animals like spiders or silkworms. These proteins are added to the cellulose scaffold to provide resistance and flexibility. The result is a firm and resilient material made of biodegradable ingredients, so it doesn’t damage nature as plastics do! To the publication>
5. Dyes may harm both people and the environment 👩🦳🧪 What if hair bacteria could make their own dye? 🦠💇♂️ This is the bet of @iGEM_Manchester team for this year’s #iGEM competition! 🧬👇
Many hair dyes on the market contain chemicals that can be irritant or produce allergic reactions. Moreover, hair dyes are often pollutants that can damage nature if they aren’t correctly disposed. What if bacteria could replace these chemicals? This is what the Manchester team of iGEM 2019 wondered. They have engineered Escherichia coli strains to make them able to adhere to hair and to secrete coloured substances that could replace chemical dyes. They tested these microbes under several stresses such as exposure to salt or shampoos to see if they can remain attached. In addition, they engineered the bacteria to secrete proteins that help maintaining the hair integrity. Synthetic biology could make bacteria the perfect hairdressers! To the publication>
6. “Blessed be the fruit” 🔴 This month we pay tribute to the dystopian series the #HandsmaidsTale with our #AgarArt challenge! 🦠🎨 We can’t wait to see your results!
The red dresses and white hood that women wear are well known worldwide. The Handmaid’s Tale, the HBO post-apocalyptic series has become a success and has kept millions of people in tenterhooks for its three seasons. That’s why we have paid tribute to it with our Agar Art Challenge of September!
7. Many cosmetic products are made from petroleum 🛢#Synbio may provide a sustainable alternative in the future 🧬 Read more here 👇
In modern societies, there is a growing interest in beauty and grooming. Products like sunscreens or moisturizers are very common in the shopping baskets. Regretfully, many of these personal care products are made from petroleum-based chemicals and thus, they have a serious impact on the environment. Currently, many companies are already using microbes to obtain key ingredients for cosmetic products like collagen, a protein involved in skin strength and elasticity. Most collagen used in personal care comes from the hides and connective tissues of cows, but it is possible to genetically engineer bacteria to produce this protein. Like this, many other essential ingredients of cosmetic products can be obtained in a sustainable way, thanks to synthetic biology! To the publication>
8. Making jeans involves using toxic chemicals that harm the environment 👖🧪 #Microbes could provide sustainable dyes to make this cloth! ♻ Read more here! 👇
If you take a look at your wardrobe, you will probably see some denim clothes. The characteristic blue colour of jeans is called indigo. It is a beautiful hue, but to produce this dye we need pollutant substances such as petroleum or cyanide. Thus, the chemical synthesis of indigo is dangerous for nature and also for the workers in contact with these substances. What if bacteria could take over this task? The start-up Tinctorium is engineering bacteria to make them able to produce indigo in a sustainable way. Besides, they are using naturally-occurring enzymes to apply the indigo onto denim yarn, so the entire process is far less toxic. The first pair of jeans dyed by bacteria could be ready in less than two years! To the publication>
9. Explaining to kids what a gene is can be difficult ❓ This video by the King’s College London #iGEM team will make this task easier! 🧬 @KCL_iGEM19
Technical words. Molecules that can’t be seen at plain sight. Synthetic biology can be a very complex topic to talk about. However, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible to understand for kids! If fact, synthetic biology can awake the curiosity of the little ones – if we explain it properly! With this in mind, King’s College team of iGEM 2019 from London has made a tutorial to make concepts like ‘gene’ or ‘genetic disease’ easier to understand. We hope there will be many future scientists within the audience! To the publication>
10. Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, welcome to the funfair! 🎡 Any #bacteria-made sweets before riding the big wheel? 🍬 You can vote now in our #Synbio Quiz! 👇
The answer of our sweetest Synbio Quiz ever was B! Gummy bear’s key ingredient is gelatin, the compound that gives this candy its characteristic stiffness. Gelatin is made of a protein called collagen which is commonly obtained from animal tissue. Companies like Geltor are already engineering bacteria to produce this collagen and make microbial gelatin. In the future, bacterial gummy bears could eventually replace the traditional ones!
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