What’s a #BioSelfie?

Yesterday we were lucky enough to encounter a team of students from the University of Salford using petri dishes filled with agar and swabs to hand. Strange thing to be doing you might think? No, not at all there is a lot we can find out from ‘oral flora’. 

‘Oral flora’ is an, er, interesting coupling of words but and important one nonetheless. There are more than a few types of bacteria and fungi present in the mouth, much of it anaerobic (lives in the absence of air).


Anaerobic bacteria in the oral cavity include:

ActinomycesArachniaBacteroidesBifidobacteriumEubacteriumFusobacteriumLactobacillusLeptotrichiaPeptococcusPeptostreptococcusPropionibacteriumSelenomonasTreponema, and Veillonella.[4]

The Genera of fungi that are frequently found in the mouth also include:

CandidaCladosporiumAspergillusFusariumGlomusAlternariaPenicillium, and Cryptococcus.[5]

Before we go on we must talk about the two types of agar used in this particular citizen science project. Agar to scientists is known as ‘media’ just like journalists and broadcasters that use ‘media’ as a tool for communication and it’s base is the natural gelatin (agar) found in seaweeds. Microbial scientists use agar as a ‘media’ for bacterial-fungal growth.


The clear one is ‘tryptic soy agar’ and it encourages the growth of ‘non-fastidious’ bacteria (able to grow without food-supplement) and the clear-red coloured agar is known as McConkey (lactose) agar, lactose acts as a supplement for bacterial growth and as we all know lots of oral bacteria LOVE sugar!

We haven’t yet established why you should do a #BioSelfie. Well, here it is! 

Understanding oral bacteria is essential for a variety of reasons i.e. better treating treatment of infections like oral thrush, preventing tooth cavities, bacterial gingivitis and understanding disorders of a salival nature.

Science is weird, but studying the bacterial makeup of your mouth enables scientists and doctors to maintain the treatment of curable conditions and better protect your teeth.  You can find out more about this at Salford University’s #GameLab and #CitizenScienceShowcase at it’s MediaCityUK campus today! @scicommsalford @UoSMediaCity

*Wikipedia (sorry consummate scientists). 


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