subtilis

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Sooooooo, I made two front pages for my binders, one for my internship binder, the first one! And I also made one for my Textile Technology binder, the second one! I wanted to show what I like and I’m slowly falling for the Pastel Goth kinda look, It is so awesome and pretty!!! Anyway, I have a strong undying passion for anime so i subtily wanted to let that shine through, especially with my internship binder, since a first impression always matters, and since anime is still kind of a geek and nerd thing here in my country, I tried to put it in subtile things. Well, not so much for the second front page, since it is mostly a picture of al the things I just really liked *^*

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Creating a better biofuel from poop

When it comes to liquid fuels, the market is dominated by gasoline, diesel and jet fuel—all compounds derived from crude oil. These fuels are highly energy dense, cheap and (for now) abundant.

But for years, scientists have been working toward a secure and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Ethanol, one of the earliest biofuel that’s largely derived from corn, hasn’t been able to compete with liquid fossil fuels. It isn’t particularly energy-dense and you need special modifications on your car to use ethanol or similar biofuels.

But researchers at UCLA are working on the next generation of advanced biofuels like Isobutanol.

“We try to produce branched-chain alcohols, that are a little larger, more energy dense and burn more like real gasoline,” explains UCLA researcher David Wernick.

Unlike ethanol, these biofuels are compatible with current fuel infrastructure, which means that you could use them with your current car.

By engineering bacteria (Bacillus subtilis), Wernick and his UCLA cohorts have enabled these tiny organisms to break down manure and other protein-rich waste like wastewater algae and byproducts from fermenting wine and beer.  

Once the protein is broken down, the bacteria convert it into biofuel and ammonia, which can be used for fertilizer. The next step is scaling up the process and improving the amount of biofuel produced.

Learn more about the lab and their process of transforming poop and protein waste into fuel:

Turning Poop into Fuel

UCLA alum David Wernick is essentially trying to solve two problems at once. One is that he’s trying to find a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. The second problem is the 1 billion tons of manure that the U.S. produces each year alone.

That mountain of excrement not only poses a disposal problem, it also creates a potent source of methane emissions and nitrous oxides — greenhouse gases that are more potent than CO2.

But to Wernick and his colleagues at UCLA, it’s not just a big pile of poop: it’s a really big – and renewable – source of biofuel. What’s the big deal about poop? It’s the protein.

Typically, bacteria look for protein in the environment and then use that to grow.

But Wernick engineers the metabolism of bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) so that instead of just growing on the protein, it takes a portion of it and uses it to produce biofuels.

Poop in; fuel out.

Manure isn’t the only material that can be used in this process. Protein-rich byproducts like wastewater algae and fermentation leftovers from wine and beer production could also work.

Learn more about how they’re turning poop into fuel in the video below:

Perhaps not surprisingly, skin, our interface with the world, supports the body’s most diverse population of bacteria. There are at least 1,000 different species found on skin, along with dozens of fungi and other microbes. Most of these bacteria aren’t harmful, and many in fact serve protective functions. These species live among the dead skin cells that make up the outer layer of our skin, defending us from disease while they guard their own turf against other microbes.

One example of this relationship is a strain of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, which is sometimes found on the skin, which produces bacitracin—a common ingredient in many over-the-counter antibiotic ointments. B. subtilis also releases toxic chemicals to kill fungus, possibly including Trichophyton interdigitale and other species that cause athlete’s foot.

To learn more about your microbiome, visit The Secret World Inside You, open now at the Museum.

Image: © AMNH/B. Peterson

The microbes living on and in your skin enjoy shelter, moisture and the chemical building blocks they need for growth. Their turf is valuable, and they will fight to defend it.

Like most microbes typically found on skin, these bacteria don’t harm us, and they may protect us from treacherous intruders. Here, rod-shaped bacteria called Bacillus subtilis (purple) are locked in battle with a fungus that causes athlete’s foot (green). Like many kinds of bacteria, Bacillus subtilis cells can collect in orderly chains to form biofilms—cooperative communities that may improve self-defense. These rod-shaped cells have formed a blockade and are spewing toxic chemicals—a bold attack on an advancing colony of fungus.

The bacteria shown in this exhibition model, Bacillus subtilis, produce chemicals that kill other bacteria, as well as fungus. One strain releases an antibacterial blend called bacitracin—an ingredient in many over-the-counter antibiotic ointments. Under the right conditions, the population of Bacillus subtilis cells can double in about two hours!

Learn more amazing tales of your microbiome in the exhibition, The Secret World Inside You, open through August 2016. 

A behind-the-scenes Microbiome Monday! 

In the Museum’s exhibition studio, the finishing touches are put on a highly magnified model of human skin cells, upon which rod-shaped bacteria called Bacillus subtilis (shown in purple) are locked in battle with a fungus (green filaments) that causes athlete’s foot. Like most microbes typically found on skin, these Bacillus bacteria don’t harm us, and they may protect us from treacherous intruders.

See the finished model in the new exhibition, The Secret World Inside You, now open!

AMNH/R.Mickens