Grab your wellies, magnifying glass and collection bag, and let the hunt begin!

This autumn, the world’s biggest collection of good bacteria is taking place in Denmark. 35,000 Danish school kids are hunting high and low, in woods, school yards, parks – everywhere in nature. They are on the search for good bacteria.

This big bacteria hunt is part of ‘The Mass Experiment’, organized by Astra, the Danish national center for education in natural sciences. The experiment gives school children the opportunity to engage with nature and be inspired by science.

“Bacteria is a fantastic resource, which can be used to solve the biggest challenges of our time. It can be used as biological fertilizers, to produce biochemicals and to develop health-beneficial products containing live bacteria,” says Mads Bjørnvad, Senior Department Manager, Microbe Technology at Novozymes.

Once the schools have tested and analyzed their findings, they will send the tests to Novozymes for scientists to screen and characterize the bacteria.

“It’s really cool to be out here to hunt for bacteria, and it’s exciting to learn what we find,” said two of the girls from seventh grade at Lille Værløse school, a school north of Copenhagen.

The wonders of bacteria
Bacteria are single-cell organisms that live everywhere, including the human body. In fact, the human body consists of billions of bacteria that help keep us in good health. They are so small that you need to have 10,000 average sized bacteria before a human can spot them with the naked eye.

Of trillions of bacterial species in the world, only 20,000 have been described. Bacteria constantly evolves, so there is plenty to discover.

Many of the children already seem inspired, adding decorations to the test kits including pictures of hearts and leaves with captions stating “I love nature. Science is exciting!”

Together, Novozymes and schools may make the world’s largest collection of good bacteria that could potentially be used for developing new products to treat diseases and for food production.

The results will be published in January 2019 on a map of Denmark, showing where to find the various species of lactobacillus bacteria. The findings of new bacterial species will be available to everyone with an interest and passion for biology.