So many excellent new videos and articles written to a general audience are being produced so frequently. Here I’m rounding up my favorites from May.

Bacterial Biofilms

TED-Ed (Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter): “The microbial jungles all over the place (and you).” In nature, yourself included, bacteria live in cities of mucus they and sometimes other microbes. This video does an awesome job of talking about the importance of biofilms for bacterial survival. It is a little surprising that they didn’t mention antibiotic resistance or issues with biofilms on medical devices, but it was refreshing that it focused more on environmental bacteria instead of human issues with pathogens.

Gut Microbiome

FiveThirtyEight: “Gut Science” – includes articles on probiotics, gut science’s WIERD bias, constipation worries, and more. There’s even a video “What Your Poop Says About You”

General Microbiome

PhD Comics  and Elaine Hsiao’s video “The HIDDEN World of Microbiomes” gets a 2 pili up rating for producing an excellent, informative video. I love that this video includes environmental microbiomes as well as the human microbiome. Certainly, and perhaps coincidentally?, this video was produced in partnership with the Kavli Foundation and released a few weeks before the National Microbiome Initiative. If this is the kind of product that will come out of the NMI’s collaborations between academics, business, and non-profit organizations, that $121 million dollars of the U.S. tax payer’s money will be well spent.


Importance of Microbes

Erika Shugart, Director of Communications for the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), wrote and produced an EXCELLENT short video about general microbiology and the importance of microbesASM has really been increasing their outreach and education activities in the last few years. One of their latest additions is “Biofilms” – a series of short videos on different aspects of microbiology. This month was “Can We Live in a World Without Microbes?” emphasizes the diversity of important roles that microscopic organisms have for the health of humans and our planet. Of course, I also love the Madonna parody “Microbial Girl” at the end of the video.


Antibiotic Resistance and Lateral Gene Transfer

Robin Bromley of Julie Dunning Hotopp’s lab at the Institute for Genome Sciences has written and animated a fun video on how bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance using lateral gene transfer. This is the second in a series on lateral gene transfer. Not only do I love the cute animations and pop culture references in this whiteboard, but also like that there not all the answers are in the video. It provides a background and enough information to jump start a conversation on the spread of antibiotic resistance. (*disclaimer – I am a member of this lab and provided some input on the video, but would include it anyway because it does an excellent job explaining the science behind antibiotic resistance in an engaging way!).

Hope you enjoyed these and can use them in classes, outreach, or whatever conversation you might find yourself in. Stay tuned for others.

Also check out AND SUBSCRIBE to the Mostly Microbes YouTube Channel where I have curated several different topics concerning microbiomes and general microbiology.

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One thought on “Microbial Media and Bacterial Biofilms: #SciComm Round-up

  • May 23, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for the positive feedback on the TED-ED biofilm animation Anne! Though we do feature dental plaque as one example and regarding antibiotic resistance, emphasize that microbes are protected within biofilms (from immune system etc. at 2:00 – 2:24), I can confirm that the choice to focus not on traditional disease-related or biofouling topics and instead on non-“pathogenic” and environmental microbes was intentional. Happy to hear that you found this refreshing! My goal is very much to open public perception of microbes closer in-line with the reality that the overwhelming majority are not harmful. Also to highlight positive impacts – microbial foods, global ecology, etc! Best wishes, Scott


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