1. #DNA à la carte! 🧬🍽️ That’s the goal of these scientists from @DNAScript and their ambitious project to create a DNA-printer! 

When scientists need specific DNA for their research, they usually have to order it from a company specialised in DNA manufacture. This happens because tailored DNA is expensive and difficult to produce… or is it? French company DNA Script may change DNA manufacturing for good! This company has developed a device that can create customised DNA molecules in just a few hours and without the intervention of any third party. They called it a DNA printer, and it’s expected to be launched in two or three years. This tool is set to make DNA production more accessible and faster, thereby speeding up research. To the publication >


2. Making #synbio accessible for everyone 🌍 This is how the latest innovations and low-cost tools can support new bio-entrepreneurs 👩‍🔬👨‍🔬

Synbio research knows no frontiers: medicine, agriculture, food, chemicals…the list is endless! For every innovation, there are many applications possible! For example, by harnessing bacteria to produce plastic, companies can develop new mobile phones, car parts, shopping bags, and so on. With an estimate of over 400 unique synbio applications, the wide variety of end products creates market opportunities worth more than four trillion dollars. Many companies work both on the development of the application and its commercial use, but others focus on the method and leave the industrial exploitation to other companies — or partner with them!. Synbio scientists are reshaping the industry and making it more accessible to all new-comers. Check out some of the current opportunities available here! To the publication >


3. A mouse that can be infected by #COVID19 🐁 This is the latest #synbio innovation towards COVID research 👩‍🔬 

When developing a new treatment, drug or a vaccine, scientists must follow an established sequence of steps in research. First, they evaluate the effect of the drug in cells or artificial tissues, and then they test it on animals before conducting clinical trials on humans. This process is followed strictly in all projects — including the development of a COVID-19 vaccine! Mice are the most common animals used in labs, but as they are also immune to the coronavirus, thereby limiting their use in COVID-19 research. However, there is some good news! A team of synbio scientists has found a way to engineer mice so that they can be infected with the SARS-Cov-2, the virus behind the current pandemic. This innovation opens a new window in COVID-19 research and could help develop the much-awaited vaccine! To the publication >


4. Playtime for scientists! 👩‍🔬 👨‍🔬 Check out the free game @Foldit, and try to design the perfect protein – while contributing to research! 🧩 Some structures have even made it to a real molecule!

“Solve puzzles for science!”, that is the motto of FoldIt, a collaborative platform that has turned protein research into a game! Proteins are one of the basic components of living organisms, performing key structural and functional roles. They are made up of chains of molecules called amino acids, linked to each other in defined arrangements. Depending on the sequence of these amino acids and how they fold around each other, we have a specific protein with a distinctive function. Folding is a critical step, as it can drastically change the final protein — both in structure and function. However, in a lab, predicting how a chain of amino acids will fold can be quite difficult, and can limit protein research. That’s where FoldIt steps in! This platform makes the folding of amino acid sequences as an easy game, turning a real-life scientific problem into a puzzle! The game is available for both scientists and students for free, and some of their in-game predictions have made it to a real protein! Here you can check it out, and maybe try to be the next lucky “folder”! To the publication >


5. Waterproof insects – how do they do it? ☔🦗 With the help of our beloved #microbes, of course! #Bacteria living in these leafhoppers secrete a water-repellent substance over their bodies that keeps them dry! 🦠

Have you ever wondered what happens when a leafhopper gets wet? No need to drown any little bug to find out —please!—, we can tell you: nothing! These insects are actually waterproof. Their skin is covered in a substance containing a molecule called brochosome that repels water and keeps them dry. However, they don’t produce it themselves! Leafhoppers rely on bacteria living on them to produce brochosomes. The process by which these microbes produce this substance is still unknown, but that may change soon! Scientists at the University of Texas are trying to find out how bacteria produce brochosomes, along with ways to turn this production industrial. Their final goal is the creation of a new material that could be used in many areas, from camouflage to water-purification. To the publication >


6. A smile is a friend maker — or a building block if you are a squid! 🦑 Scientists are working on a new self-repairing material made from this mollusc’s teeth! 🦷

Squid’s teeth are quite different from ours: they are placed in their suction cups —yikes!— to help them grasp prey. However, scientists are interested in a more curious fact, that squids are able to regenerate their teeth by themselves!. This self-repair mechanism could be the basis for a new synthetic material capable of healing itself. Such a material would be extremely useful for tools that are under continual movements, such as robots, fans, or prosthetic limbs. Their continuous use often damages them rapidly, requiring constant upkeep. Squid’s teeth could be a solution to this problem, as any damage would be automatically self-repaired. Moreover, they would be a recyclable and biodegradable alternative to current materials! Looks like the Mona Lisa was not the only one with secrets to their smile! To the publication>


7. A new ruler of the seas: #microbes! 🔱🦠 Researchers are studying oceanic microorganisms and deciphering their ability to alter the weather ☁️

If we search the depths of the ocean, we may not discover Atlantis, but we are sure to find a wide range of microbes doing their microbial things. Some of them produce and release gases to the atmosphere, which can alter cloud formation and the weather. This is a natural process that has been happening since the beginnings of life, but now, we humans are interfering with it! Some of our activities are causing changes in the microbial populations of the ocean, modifying the proportion of gases that are released. Moreover, many air pollutants can react with some microbial products, altering the atmosphere’s chemical composition. Scientists have created an in-ocean lab to study human-effect on microbe-related emission, and how this affects the climate. To the publication >


8.Bact’s labyrinth 🖐️👁️ These scientists have checked if #bacteria would be able to get out of a maze 🦠

“The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down!”, that’s what Adam Savage said on his show, the Mythbusters. And sometimes, more often than not, a simple experiment out of human curiosity makes its way into the lab! This is what happened at Princeton University when a physics professor dared his student to design a maze he couldn’t solve. Their innocent challenge brought up a bigger question about how living organisms face challenges, and so a new research was born! In this article, scientists have subjected bacteria to a maze to study their communication and organization skills. Their subject has been E. coli, a bacterium known to collaborate with each other in demanding environments. No spoilers here, you will have to check out this article to find out if they made it! To the publication >


9. Time for our #AgarArt Award! 🧫🖌️ This mandala-like design was made with Staphylococcus saprophyticus, a #bacteria known to cause opportunistic urinary infections. We definitely prefer the mandala, of course! 🎨

Even infectious bacteria can have a bright side! This month’s Agar Art Award is a living proof: the artist has used Staphylococcus saprophyticus, a bacterium famous for its harmful effect on humans, to create an amazing design. There is beauty in everything, we just need to find it! To the publication >


10. Microbial wheels! 🚗🔥 Check out the latest innovation in bacterial car production with our new #AwesomeMicrobes

Car tires made by microbes! That’s the latest innovation in car manufacturing we are expecting from Genencor. The rubber in car tires is made of isoprene, a chemical that some bacteria such as E. coli can produce naturally, but in a very small amount. Now scientists from this company have engineered E.coli  to boost their isoprene production at industrial scales. Find out more in out latest #AwesomeMicrobes! To the publication >