1. Beware the light! 💡 These #AwesomeMicrobes lure insects near the roundworms they live in 🦟 Once the prey is dead, they both get nutrients from it! 🦠
Our Awesome Microbes of July are bright and beautiful! The glow of Photohabdus luminiscens is particularly attractive for some insects… but they should beware of the light! These bacteria team up with a roundworm species in order to lure prey within their reach. These ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ of nature benefit from these symbiotic relationship, as both get nutrients from the insects the bacteria manages to attract.
2. Harmless for humans and lethal for mosquitoes 🦟 The next weapon against malaria is made by bacteria! 🦠Discover more here! 👇
Malaria is still a prevalent disease in some areas of the world, and kills roughly 450,000 people per year. The main cause for the spread of this illness are Anopheles mosquitoes, that carry the malaria parasites within them. Regretfully, these insects develop resistance to the chemical insecticides that are used to try to control them. But now, a bacterium may have the key to tackle this challenge! Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health in USA have identified a strain of the bacterium Wolbachia that can kill the Anopheles mosquito, as it produces a lethal toxin for these insects, PMP1. This could be the cornerstone for a new era in the fight against malaria: bacteria may become the next-generation insecticides! Read more>
3. Bats hunt insects and can be very helpful for agriculture 🦇 Now, they are being killed by a fungus infection 🍄 These #bacteria may be useful to save them! 🦠
Bats are powerful allies for agriculture as they prey on insects that harm the crops. Sadly, the population of these little mammals is decreasing alarmingly fast across Eastern North America. And the reason for this is the white-nose syndrome: a fungal disease that spreads in the winter and causes bats to leave their roosts during hibernation, thus dying of starvation or exposure to cold. But these awesome microbes are coming to the rescue! Researchers from Virginia Tech and UC Santa Cruz have found that probiotic bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens are a powerful tool to fight the fungus that is killing bats. It was known that probiotic bacteria are beneficial for human health, but these amazing microbes have proved to be also to be ‘bat-friendly’! Read more>
4. A robot arm that can *taste* the environment through their fingers? It’s not sci-fi, its #SynBio! 🧬 These #AmazingMicrobes team up with technology to make it possible! 🦠
The robotic era is here! Robots are bit by bit more able to interact with the world around them and give an accurate response in reaction to stimuli. And bacteria may be able to contribute to this revolution! Researchers from the University of California have created a biohybrid bot that can ‘taste’. They built a flexible robot arm and embedded the fingers with engineered Escherichia coli bacteria. These microbes are modified to produce a fluorescent protein when they encounter the chemical IPTG. Researchers provided the robotic arm with a operating system that if it detects the glow produced by bacteria when touching the water (which means the chemical is present) it wouldn’t consider safe to drop the object that it was holding. As there are billions of different bacteria, the applications for this technology are almost infinite! Read more>
5. Same colours, big difference! #Microbes and #synbio can provide sustainable dyes for clothes! 👕 Read more here! 👇
Summer is here, and we can’t wait to wear the most colorful clothes in our wardrobe. But nowadays, dye production relies on petrochemical processes that require toxic solvents and vast amounts of water and energy. These chemical processes aren’t sustainable the way they are now, but bacteria may change this scenario! The French company PILI is replacing chemical production for microbial fermentation. They claim that they can reduce the amount of water needed up to five times and cut CO2 emissions ten-fold during production, and that they are avoiding the use of 100 tons of petroleum and 10 tons of toxic chemicals per ton of product. The dyes produced this way are as resistant to fading as the traditional ones, but they are respectful with the environment! Read more>
6. Starring two #bacteria heroes! 🦸♀️ Their superpower: creating energy! 💡 Sun or lightning? ☀🌩 Vote in our #SynBioQuiz! 👇
And the answer is… A! Researchers from the University of British Columbia have engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to make them able to produce lycopene, a dye that is particularly effective at harvesting light. They also coated these bacteria with a mineral that acted as a semiconductor and applied the mixture to a glass surface. The result was a biohybrid cell able to generate the highest current density for a biogenic solar cell!
7. Does this little animal look simple to you? Take a closer look! 👀They have rare symbiotic #bacteria inside! 🦠
Trichoplax is one of the simplest animals. it is only about a half-millimetre in diameter, similar to a shapeless blob, and they lack mouths or organs of any kind. They are so plain that scientists argued until the 70s if they were a fully grown organism or even just a juvenile stage of a jellyfish. But sometimes we need to watch closer to see the reality! Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, the University of Hawaii and North Carolina State University have now discovered that Trichoplax is not as simple as it looks. Inside this uncomplicated being we actually find two highly unusual bacteria! Each one of these microbes establishes a different and sophisticated symbiosis with Trichoplax that helps this animal to get all the nutrients it needs. Bacteria can be found even in the most unsuspected places! Read more>
8. #Bacteria living in the stomach of sheep produce harmful gases like methane 🏭 Now researchers want to change how they feed these animals to curb this problem 🌿 Read more here! 👇
Fossil fuels emissions draw almost all the attention as one of the factors causing climate change, but they aren’t the only responsible. Huge amounts of methane are released to the atmosphere in the burps and farts of livestock like sheep. But don’t blame them, the bacteria living in their stomachs are the ones producing this gas! These microbes break down the animal’s food and release methane as a byproduct. Now researchers from several institutions have found that in low emitter animals the most common gut microbes were hydrogen-eaters. Thus, a hydrogen-rich diet may help to boost the presence of microbes who don’t create methane in livestock’s guts. Controlling gut bacteria may be the first step to fight a greenhouse gas source! Read more>
9. Want to see #bacteria dancing? 🕺 You will just need a magnet and a nintendo controller, they will do the rest thanks to their tiny inner compass! 🧭
Let’s dance! Can these bacteria feel the rhythm of the music? Well, not exactly, but they can feel magnetic fields! Magnetotactic bacteria like these have organelles called magnetosomes that contain magnetic crystals. They allow these amazing microbes to orient themselves along the magnetic field lines and turns them into living compasses! To make them dance, we only need a magnet, an engine to move it and a Nintendo controller to decide the direction of the magnetic field. You can see the result in the video! Watch the video here>
10. Can’t help falling in love 🎶 That’s what happens to us with #bacteria! 🦠 This month we tribute the King of #Rock with our #AgarArt challenge! 🎨 We can’t wait to see your results! #music
Make way for the King of Rock! The Agar Art of July is a tribute to the immortal Elvis Presley! Besides remembering great hits like ‘Jailhouse Rock’, we can’t think of a better tribute than capturing him using bacteria!