latest news / A Twisted Bug's Life in the Gut, London

A Twisted Bug’s Life in the Gut

Where: BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival, Bethnal Green, London
When: 14-16 November 2014

When the best of British bioscience was showcased at the Great British Bioscience Festival in London, BBSRC part-funded Enigma Project researchers were there to highlight their work on Campylobacter in a rather novel and interesting way; by inviting visitors to travel into inner space and go inside a giant inflatable stomach!

Inside the gut! Source: Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool

Inside the gut!
Source: Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool

Children and grown ups were able to explore a walk-though giant gut and discover how Campylobacter infects us, how it makes us ill and what our bodies do to combat the infection. As was the case when the gut was shown in Liverpool earlier in the year, the exhibition piece proved very popular and certainly put a smile on people’s faces whilst teaching everyone all about Campylobacter, a spiral-shaped bacterium.

There were plenty of other interactive activities too that made for an enjoyable but educational time for all such as the opportunity to make “twisted bug” key-rings to take home and playing interactive puzzles to learn about Campylobacter infection in chickens. Visitors were also able to contribute to the Enigma Project with hazard perception video challenges helping researchers to understand whether or not people perceive microbiological hazards in the kitchen and the countryside.

Check out more photos from inside the gut! And also see the festival #tagboard.

Understanding Campylobacter at the BBSRC's Great British Bioscience Festival Source: Wikimedia / BBSRC

Understanding Campylobacter at the BBSRC’s Great British Bioscience Festival
Source: Wikimedia / BBSRC


The science behind the exhibit

Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of human diarrhoeal disease in the developed world. Infection occurs mostly through eating undercooked chicken, but can also occur through recreational contact with the environment. Chickens become infected during rearing and can carry very high numbers of the bacteria. The research being undertaken  investigates the presence and survival of Campylobacter in the farming, countryside and park environments; its interaction with the chicken gut; and the mechanisms that make chickens susceptible to infection. Understanding these issues could help reduce chicken colonisation and, therefore, reduce illness in humans.