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Microbial Slime - What do your results tell you about biofilm formation?

Some substances can hinder the formation of biofilms. By using these substances, we can slow or prevent biofilm growth on those objects. This is important in many industries. For example, biofilms quickly form on the bottoms of boats sitting in the water. By using paints made with special che... Read More

Microbial Slime - Which coatings did the biofilms form best on? Which did they grow least well on?

If you used Vaseline, you got the most growth on that strip. If you used hot pepper sauce or suntan lotion, you would've seen the least growth on those strips. Read More

Microbial Slime - Experiment

Run your tongue over your teeth. If it's been a while since you last brushed, you may feel a filmy or fuzzy coating on your teeth. What's there is similar to the slimy coating you might feel if you stuck your finger down into a sink drain or that you might see coating the sides and bottom of ... Read More

Yeast on the Rise - Did your dough made using a different sweetener besides sugar show the same results?

Different sweeteners will have similar or lesser effects on dough rising as sugar. You could try this experiment with as many different types of sweetening agents as you want to compare the results. Then you could do some research on the types of sugars in these different sweeteners to determ... Read More

Yeast on the Rise - Did the Control dough rise at all or not? Why or why not?

You probably saw some rising happen in the straws containing Control dough. This is because flour is a starch. Starches contain glucose, a form of sugar (this is why a saltine cracker tastes a little sweet if you let it sit on your tongue for a while; the enzymes in your saliva break the crac... Read More

Yeast on the Rise - Can you guess what effect the sugar had and why?

You will notice that the dough from the other bowls also rose some in their straws, the height connected to how much sugar was in the flour. The more sugar, the higher the dough rose. What can you figure out from this? Well, you've already read that yeast makes bread rise and become puffy ins... Read More

Yeast on the Rise - In the first batch of straws you made, which straws showed the greatest change in dough height? Why?

The straws containing dough from bowl 3 showed the highest rising. Since everything-the amount of flour, the amount of yeast, the temperature of the water-stayed the same except for the amount of sugar, you have probably already rightly guessed that the height of the dough rising is connected to... Read More

Yeast on the Rise - Experiment

bakers_yeastAs you prob... Read More

Fun with Fomites - If you tested more than one fomite, which one grew more microbes? Why is that?

Depending on what objects you tested, you may have seen a difference in the amount of bacterial growth. Objects that are kept in moist and/or dark places or that come into frequent contact with food, dirt, vegetation or bodies of living creatures often contain more microbes than other objects... Read More

Fun with Fomites - How can we control microbial contamination?

Did your petri plate grow bacterial colonies after you wiped the object with just water? Probably. This shows you that while plain water can help get rid of some microbes, it doesn't necessarily get rid of all of them. But you didn't grow too many microbes in the dish you swabbed after wiping... Read More

Fun with Fomites - Do you see a pattern in the size and amount of colonies in each plate?

You probably got the most colony growth in section 1 of each plate that grew any bacteria. The number of colonies in each of the four sections of the plates likely decreased from section 1 to 4. This is because each time you swabbed a section of the plate, there were fewer bacterial cells remain... Read More

Fun with Fomites - Which plate grew the most and biggest colonies? Why do you think that is?


Unless the object you tested had been cleaned shortly before you swabbed it, you most likely grew some nice colonies of bacteria in your first plate. Your second plate, the one you swabbed after wiping the object... Read More

Fun with Fomites - Experiment

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Let's Get Small - According to the Reference Chart, an E. coli bacterium is 2 micrometers long. Assuming that it's 1.25 micrometers wide, could you determine how many E. coli could fit on the tip of one of your hairs?

The tip of your hair is about 0.1 millimeters (mm), or 100 micrometers (µm), wide. If you assume that the tip is roughly circular, and the area of a circle is pi times radius squared (3.14 X 50µm^2), then the area of the tip is about 7,850 µm. We're assuming a 2 µm long E. coli cell ... Read More

Let's Get Small - Which kind of microbe is the smallest, a virus, bacterium or protozoan? Which is the biggest?

Viruses as a group are the smallest microbes. Specific kinds of viruses range in size from a few dozen nanometers up to about 1,000 nanometers or 1 micrometer. Bacteria and archaea are generally the second smallest microbes as a group. But some types of bacteria—Chlamydia, for exampl... Read More

Let's Get Small - Why do scientists need to use models? Why can’t they just look under a microscope to see what they need to see?

As you've just learned, microbes are so almost unbelievably small, that they can be difficult to see and work with. Therefore, scientists may instead use models to compare and study creatures that are difficult to see and handle. The models are much larger than the actual microbes of interest an... Read More

Secrets Of C. Difficile's Protective Shell Revealed, Paving The Way For New Superbug Drugs And Vaccines

The detailed structure of a protective 'jacket' that surrounds cells of the Clostridium difficile superbug, and which helps the dangerous pathogen stick to human host cells and tissues, is revealed in part in the 1 March issue of Molecular Microbiology. Read More

Let's Get Small - Experiment

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Caught Dirty-handed - What infectious diseases could be spread by failure of people to adequately wash their hands?

There are many germs that can be spread or picked up through inadequate hand washing. For example, cold viruses can be spread by touching people or objects. The flu virus is often spread by contact with infected people. Salmonella, a bacterium that causes severe upset stomach, can be picked u... Read More

Caught Dirty-handed - What difference does soap make?

As the experiment showed, washing with water alone doesn't do as good a job as washing with soap. In the same way the soap lifts off the paint so it can be rinsed away, soap grabs microbes so they're flushed away by the water. You just can't see it happen as easily with invisible microbes as you... Read More

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