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School citizen scientists discovered new species of bacteria

A Citizen Scientist project has engaged 25.000 Danish students in collecting samples of bacteria throughout the country. These samples may prove important in the food industry.

10 new species of lactic bacteria have been discovered by 25.000 Danish students. That is the conclusion from a citizen scientist project supported by Astra, the national center for Learning in Science, Technology and Health, The Danish Industry Foundation and Danish biotechnology company Novozymes. The results have been showcased in a public ‘bacteria bank’, which may provide businesses and researchers with new insights in the world of bacteria. Bacteria can be used in improved food quality & safety, prevention of diseases and natural feed additives for farm animals.

Largest gathering of lactic bacteria ever

Never before has such a large-scale gathering of lactic bacteria been done. 18.000 samples of lactic bacteria living on plants have been analyzed and processed by more than 70 lab technicians and researchers from Novozymes in Denmark and USA. From the students’ collections researches have isolated almost 4.000 strains of bacteria which contained more than 50 unique strains from 10 entirely new species of lactic bacteria.

Collaboration for a common good

Not only may these species contribute to new research. The process of collecting samples in itself may inspire more young students to take up scientific educations and careers. The project required a strict scientific process for securing reliability – just like research done at universities and companies.

Widespread method

This is not the first time a citizen scientist project has yielded great results. Intel, the technology company, has launched its AI for Social Good program to support entrepreneurs working to improve the understanding of the environment and climate change. Projects within the program aim to share and analyze information gathered at field level from citizen scientists – for example letting farmers collect samples from tea plantations and getting them analyzed in order to prevent pathogens and crop losses.

Access the bacteria bank here.

Read more on how bacteria can improve sustainability within food consumption here.