What is UNLOCKtober?

Throughout the month of October, we are going on an exciting adventure to discover microorganisms’ huge potential. Every day, we dive into the fascinating world of microorganisms, providing a wide range of content ranging from fascinating microbe trivia to cutting-edge scientific discoveries. Our content includes resources created by our team as well as contributions from esteemed researchers and passionate microbe enthusiasts.

UNLOCK a new day of microbial wonder by simply scrolling down on each day of October.

Join us in unraveling the secrets of the microbial world!

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #UNLOCKtober on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to share resources with the world. Let’s spread our enthusiasm for microbes far and wide!

Day #2: You are your microbes

We are home to millions of unique and diverse communities that help our bodies operate, from the microorganisms in our guts to the ones on our teeth. Jessica Green and Karen Guillemin stress the necessity of understanding the various organisms that make up one and every organism.

Day #3 What is the gut microbiome?

According to research on the gut microbiome, the bacteria inside you can influence your weight, energy levels, and even your choices. Mary Beth Albright, a food and mental health reporter explores this emerging field.

Day #4 What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotics are life-saving medications that are used to treat bacterial infections. But there’s a problem: some bacteria are becoming antibiotic-resistant, which means our treatments are no longer effective against them.

Day #5 Why and how do microorganisms form biofilms?

We are surrounded by exotic creatures that are too small to view with the naked eye while we walk through our daily lives. We normally think of microscopic organisms, or microbes, as independent cells that float around on their own. In actuality, millions of bacteria come together to create large communities. Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter explain why and how microorganisms form biofilms.

Day #6: Germs, bacteria, and diseases living on your phone

Ever wonder what’s on your phone? Dr. Susan Whittier, Director of Microbiology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and Insider Tech checked 19 phones for bacteria.

Here are the findings.

Day #7: What If All the Microbes Disappeared?

On Day 7 of UNLOCKtober, we’ll delve into what could survive a world without our tiny microbial companions and for how long.

Day #8: The beneficial bacteria that make delicious food

Ever wondered how bread becomes fluffy, Swiss cheese develops holes, or vinegar gains its tangy flavor? While these foods may seem distinct, they share a common origin: microorganisms feasting on sugar and producing unique culinary outcomes. Erez Garty reveals how your kitchen functions as a biotechnology laboratory, orchestrated by microorganisms that shape your gastronomy.

Day #9: What’s Living on Your Skin?

Examine the human body more closely and observe the countless bacteria inhabiting our skin.

Day #10: The Incredible World of Bacterial Communities

These little green organisms appear in the background of other organisms’ life, adding a splash of color among debris. What you’re looking at is a gathering of organisms, not a single one. Those green bits are bacteria communities.

Day #11: 20 interesting microbes everyone should have heard about

The world of microbes is vibrant and diverse. Even though we often hear about some of them causing problems, we should not forget about the many other interesting and helpful microbes. To show you that there’s a whole world of different microbes out there, we have for day #11 of UNLOCKtober a list of common and fascinating ones.

Read more

Day #12: Microbes From Smallest to Largest

How many microbes inhabit your body? Surprisingly, the average human is home to about 40 trillion microbes against 30 trillion of their own cells. Beyond our bodies, there are trillions more microorganisms, including nameless single-cell organisms just 9 nanometers long (that’s 150,000 in a single hair’s width) to colossal seaweeds stretching up to 10 feet. The microbial world is truly incredible.

Day #13: Homemade Petri Dish – Growing Bacteria at Home

In this video, they delve into the process of creating a homemade petri dish and combining a culture medium to foster bacterial growth. The video will guide you through the steps for exploring bacteria growth and using readily available household items to craft a homemade petri dish. By the end, you will have a petri dish that’s bound to attract any bacterium seeking a new home.

Day #14: Aerobic Vs Anaerobic Respiration

Every human being needs energy to survive. For humans, food is the source of energy, and oxygen is required by food to release this energy. Human respiration includes three key processes: breathing, internal respiration, and cellular respiration.

The focus here is on cellular respiration, where living cells release energy from food substances. This process can be aerobic or anaerobic.

Day #15: The Dirtiest Things In Your House (You’ll Be Surprised!)

In this video, the surprising extent of contamination in everyday household items is revealed. The investigation uncovers the pervasive presence of bacteria, with approximately one million bacterial cells per milliliter of water. Tests are conducted on common household items to determine which ones serve as the primary breeding grounds for bacteria.

Day #16: Have you met our key players?

On Day 16 of UNLOCKtober, we introduce our key players 👥! Meet them ➡️ here.

Day #17: Can bacteria eat plastic?

On Day 17 of UNLOCKtober, consider how the modern world we’ve built appears to operate on plastic. This versatile material forms the foundation of our bags, bottles, clothing, toys, and so much more. Plastic has become so widespread that it is almost impossible to avoid.

Day #18: How our microbes make us who we are

Rob Knight is a pioneer in the study of human microbes, the community of small single-cell creatures that live in our bodies and play a significant—and mostly unexplored—role in our health. “The three pounds of microbes that you carry around with you might be more important than every single gene you carry around in your genome,” he said. Discover why.

Day #19: UNLOCK facilities

UNLOCK is a unique research facility composed of three complementary experimental platforms for high-throughput discovery and characterization of microbial communities and one FAIR-data platform for large scale data storage, data extraction and analysis of high-throughput data in a cloud-based infrastructure.

Explore UNLOCK’s facilities here.

Day #20: How bacteria “talk”

Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria “talk” to one another by employing a chemical language that allows them to coordinate defense and attack. The discovery has profound implications for medicine, industry, and even our understanding of ourselves.

Day #21: Microorganisms Size Comparison – 3D

For day #21 of UNLOCKtober, we have a comparison of various tiny microbes up to 1mm in size.

Day #22: Phages vs. bacteria – animation showing infection mechanisms

Antibiotic alternatives are urgently needed. Antibacterial treatments based on bacteriophages – natural enemies of bacteria – are being developed by researchers all over the world. To do so, however, they must first understand the mechanisms behind phage action.

Day #23: Three stories about the dog microbiome

The microbiome is one of these topics that can be studied in a variety of ways and across a wide range of organisms; the questions we ask about the human microbiome may also be addressed about the microbiomes of other organisms. What microbes exist there, and what do they do? What effect does nutrition have on the microbiome? Etc. Today, we share a link to three stories witten by Jennifer Tsang, about the dog microbiome. Read the stories here.

Day #24: Cyanobacteria: The unsung heroes of oxygen production

Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, are key players in Earth’s oxygen production. Through photosynthesis, they supply a significant portion of the oxygen we breathe. Found in various environments – from oceans to lakes and land – they’re unsung heroes behind every deep breath we take.

Day #25: How the gut microbes you’re born with affect your lifelong health

Microbiome expert Henna-Maria Uusitupa suggests that your lifelong health may have been determined on the day you were born. In her presentation, she shows how the gut microbes acquired at birth and infancy affect your health in adulthood.

Day #26: The Potential of Microbial Communities for Enhanced Bioreactor Performance

UNLOCK’s team researchers examined the complex relationship between bioreactor performance and the resident microbial community. The researchers used the generalized Lotka-Volterra (gLV) model to identify key interactions between the microbial communities of several types of bioreactor, including biological activated carbon, moving bed biofilm reactor, and sand filter. Read the full paper here.

Day #27: UNLOCK’s Newsletter

Passionate about pioneering research?

Discover groundbreaking research at UNLOCK’s cutting-edge facilities and UNLOCK even more by subscribing to our newsletter.

Day #28: The Evolution of Bacteria on a “Mega-Plate” Petri Dish

Researchers from the Kishony Lab at HMS and Technion have developed a simple method to witness the movements of bacteria as they develop resistance to drugs.

Day #29: The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth – The Bacteriophage

A relentless battle, spanning billions of years, unfolds daily, claiming countless lives, yet it often escapes our notice. At the heart of this conflict is the single most lethal entity on Earth: The Bacteriophage.

Day #30: A structured evaluation of genome-scale constraint-based modeling tools for microbial consortia

UNLOCK’s team researchers provide a valuable evaluation rubric of tools for modeling microbial communities using genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) and assesses their performance in reproducing experimental data of synthetic microbial consortia.

Read the full article here.

Day #31: UNLOCK’s first Symposium

As UNLOCKtober comes to an end, we’d like to thank everyone who joined along for the ride.

Today, we’d like to remind you of our upcoming first UNLOCK Symposium. If you haven’t already registered, this is your chance to do so. You can also get a preview of the unique insights our speakers will provide to the event and the workshops that will be held. We can’t wait to welcome you to this special event!