Harnessing the power of bacteria for good  

Bacteria don’t have the best reputation. But not all bacteria are our enemies, most are actually beneficial to us. You may have heard how the many millions of bacteria living in our stomachs are important for both the immune system and digestion, and how probiotic food, such as yogurt and fermented food, is beneficial for good health. But there is more. Scientists, companies and curious visionaries work hard to find new solutions where we use bacteria to improve our modern-day lives.

 

Did you know that bacteria can be used to dye textiles? In the near future we will have an explosion of applications where bacteria help us with solutions in our modern-day lives. An example of is the Brittsh company Colorifix, developing a revolutionary dyeing process to help the textile industry dramatically reduce its environmental impact. As they describe it they are the first company to use a biological process to produce, deposit and fix pigments onto textiles. Enginering a natural solution to solve man-made problems.

”100 billion articles of clothing are made every year. This comes at a huge cost to the environment, from the raw materials used to the industrial processes that support production. By working with Nature, we can change the paradigm.”  More here.

And hey, we can use them to make perfumes. Fermentation is well-known for bringing incredible flavors to life, whether it’s in wine or beer, cheese, kimchi, chocolate, or more. Recently, fermentation has also been used to make cultured ingredients for the flavor and fragrance industry, enabling the production of delicious, renewable, and accessible products. This means micro-organisms can acctually help us produce fragrance and flavours.

 

”Cultured ingredients offer a third way for manufacturing valuable flavor and fragrance ingredients that is more renewable than chemical synthesis via petroleum and more stable and efficient than extraction from botanical sources.” More here.

Micro-organisms can acctually help us make plastic waste dissapear. In Vancouver they have shown how to harnessed the degradation potential of the bacteria in the soil of their local Frazer river and cultured it so that it could live off pthalates — a highly pollutant substance in plastic — as its sole source of carbon, and thus break them down. More here.

Our microbiom, our individual set of microbes, also affects our mood and how we feel. In the near future we will probably be able to design our homes , schools and offices from what mood we prefer – calm and relaxing, or creative and stimulating, for example. Research shows that our micribiom is closely connected to our psychological wellbeing, so why not? Since we´re covered in germs, let´s design for that. More here.

A Paris  based startup works hard to change the way we light our world – by bioluminescence. By isolating the DNA that causes some squids to glow, and introducing it into bacteria, they created a light source that can glow for three days – without generating the usual pollution caused by lightbulbs. The idea is still in development, but it´s a first bold step. Read more here.

And, of course there is more. This is a teaser of what we can expect from the future and the possibilities of the microbial world that we live in. And as they say, if you can’t beat them – join them. Let´s harness the power of bacteria for human good.

/Linda Rosendahl Nordin
Pure Effect

 

Pictures from museum of microbes
– Micropia, Amsterdam

_____________________

ABOUT MICRO-ORGANISMS

A micro-organism, or microbe, is an organism which is microscopic – so small that people cannot see them with naked eye. Micro-organisms include bacteria, fungi and bacteria, and are among the earliest known life forms.

First life on earth was acctually a micro-organism. You find them everywhere, on every surface around us. As a matter of fact, we exist because they let us, and probably the micro-organisms on earth will outlive us.