Amazing Facts about Bacteria There’s some facts in life you’re just glad you learnt…like, don’t put your mouth under the hand-dryer! 1. Do you use the hand-dryer to save paper towels? Well, drying your hands on a paper towel reduces the bacterial count by about 45–60 per cent. But using a warm-air dryer increases the bacterial count by an average of 255 per cent. Yikes! Why? Well the inside of a hand-dryer is a nice warm place, perfect for bacteria to grow. The most important thing is to make sure your hands are completely dry after washing as if there’s anything bacteria like more than a warm place, it’s a warm moist place. A paper towel will blot off the moisture and even remove bacteria through the wiping motion. 2. Stick your finger in your ear. Is your ear wax moist & sticky or dry? If it’s the latter, you might want to get a brave volunteer to have a bit of a sniff of your armpit. It’s highly likely they won’t keel over dead, as a genetic mutation means that 2% of the population with dry ear wax, don’t produce the protein that attracts the bacteria that make your sweat smell. 3. Bacteria can live in every environment. Thermophiles, which are part of the Archae group (see Archae articles) happily live in temperatures up to 122 °C. this means they tend to hang out in volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. Halophiles are the opposite and like to chill out in temperatures below 10⁰C. Bacteria can also living in highly acidic, alkaline, pressurized, and radioactive environments- bacteria have even been found growing in the nuclear reactor of Chernobyl. 4. In one ml (milliliter) of fresh water, there are one million bacterial cells, and in one gram of soil, there are typically 40 million bacterial cells! 5. The number and type of bacterial species living near your sweat glands creates your own personalised body odour! Sweat is naturally odourless, but the break down of non-volatile compounds into volatile substances by these specific microbes creates the distinctive smell, this apparently has a lot to do with attracting a mate who is ‘genetically’ a good match for you. Unfortunately, nature doesn’t have a filter to keep farters, gropers and general idiots away. The higher the density of a group of bacteria- the more your underarms will smell! 6. A recent study of bacteria within our belly buttons among 60 volunteers showed the presence of 2,368 phylotypes of bacteria. It’s believed that 1,458 of these species are new to science- never seen before! The navel of one of these volunteers contained a species of bacteria that has only ever been noted in Japanese soil, and he had never been to Japan. Another contained a themophile more commonly seen around the vent of an underwater volcano. Weird! 7. Bacteria have a whole array of methods of moving about. Some bacteria have hair, or whip-like appendages called flagella that they use to swim around. Others produce thick coats of slime and glide about. Some stick out thin, rigid spikes called fimbriae to help them hold onto surfaces, like an ice pick. 8. Some species of bacteria contain tiny particles of minerals that help them orient themselves with the Earth’s magnetic fields to help the bacteria figure out whether they’re swimming up or down. 9. The strain of bacteria, MRSA (Multiple-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) has developed such a resistance that it can now survive almost every antibiotic created so far! That’s why hospitals go to such great length to prevent the spread of this particular type of microbe. In fact, Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin in 1928, warned that overuse of antibiotics would result in antibiotic resistant bacteria. 10. Certain types of bacteria can product light. This phenomenon is called ‘bioluminescence’. We can see it in all sorts of plants and animals, such as glow worms, and also in marine animals. Deep sea fish will use bioluminescence to lure fish or anything else they’re interested in eating. Just like the scary fish in the film Finding Nemo that lurked in the depths, these fish have a colony of bacteria living on a protrubrance from their heads that glows – they use it just like a fisherman uses a coloured lure.