Microbe March Madness Is Back!

by | Contests

Publish Date: February 7, 2022

Sad about the end of football season approaching? Microbe March Madness is here to feed your need for head-to-head competition!

Some of you may have participated in our inaugural Microbe March Madness tournament back in 2017. With much anticipation, we are bringing the event back for 2022! For those of you who are new to the Microbe March Madness, we will outline the logistics here. For those who have participated in the past, be sure to review closely as the competitors and testing have changed!

Eight Strains Vying for the Title of Champion

Here’s how Microbial March Madness works:

Eight strains will compete in an elimination bracket to see which bacterium can outcompete the rest. Strains will compete in three rounds of tests aimed at determining which strain is the ultimate survivor. The tests will be performed by the Microbiologics team coaches using our KWIK-STIK™ product line, and all strains will be identified using the Bruker Microflex MALDI-TOF System. The tournament is single-elimination, and the final round will include the two hardiest strains from each division of the bracket in a head-to-head competition.

This year’s Microbiologics KWIK-STIK™ competitors*

  • Listeria Lions: Listeria monocytogenes, Catalog #0129P
  • Hafnia Hippos: Hafnia alvei, Catalog #0165P
  • Ochrobactrum Octopi: Ochrobactrum anthropic, Catalog #0132P
  • Serratia Serpents: Serratia marcescens, Catalog #0506P
  • Kocuria Cougars: Kocuria rhizophila, Catalog #0688P
  • E. coli Eagles: Escherichia coli, Catalog #0335P
  • Klebsiella Kangaroos: Klebsiella pneumoniae, Catalog #0458P
  • Streptococcus Stingrays: Streptococcus pyogenes, Catalog #0385P

* Please note: catalog items selected include BSL1 and BSL2 organisms. Please ensure these strains can be utilized by your laboratory.

Meet the teams

Listeria Lions

Coaches: Kathy W (Receiving Clerk) and John R (Shipping Supervisor)

Hafnia Hippos

Coaches: Calvin H (Clinical Sales Specialist) and Becky N (Sales Administrative Coordinator)

Ochrobactrum Octopi

Ochrobactrum Octopi

Coaches: Alison P (Director of Finance) and Judy B (Accounts Receivable Specialist)

Serratia Serpents

Coaches: Madison V (Quality Control Technician) and Oyinlola O (Quality Control Technician)

Kocuria Cougars

Coaches: Kavitha G (Quality Control Technician) and Jackie M (Quality Control Technician)

E. coli Eagles

Coaches: Cassie K (Clinical Sales Specialist) and Lindsey D (Associate Clinical Product Manager)

Klebsiella Kangaroos

Coaches: Ashley H (Customer Service Representative) and Kali B (Senior Customer Service Representative)

Streptococcus Stingrays

Coaches: Karla Z (R & D Scientist) and Megan C (Senior R & D Associate)

Two ways to play

  1. You can simply download the Microbe March Madness bracket and submit your picks to us for a chance to win fun swag!
  2. For extra credit, perform the experiments in your own laboratory to witness the victorious strain rise above the competition with your own eyes (and laboratory instruments). To participate alongside our team, you can purchase the Microbiologics KWIK-STIKs listed above by Monday, February 7th, 2022. Submit a photo of your champion agar plate to be entered in the grand prize drawing.

The Competition

Round 1: Try-Outs

Each strain’s ability to survive in a mixed culture will be tested by applying the theory of competitive inhibition. Two results are possible:

  • One strain will out-compete the other for nutrients, resulting in a higher concentration of one microorganism than the other.
  • One strain will be suppressed entirely and will not grow.

To participate, plate organisms from the KWIK-STIK aerobically at 35°C for 24 hours. Next, create a 0.5 McFarland Standard/solution for each microorganism. Then create two 1:100 dilutions of each microorganism and use 0.1 mL from a micropipette to transfer each competing organism to TSB broth according to the bracket. Incubate broth for 24 hours at 35°C aerobically.

After incubation, create a 1:100 dilution, followed by a 1:10 dilution. Using a 1 µL inoculating loop, touch a single colony and transfer to a TSA plate by first streaking a line down the middle of the plate. Then spread the inoculum in three planes by rotating the plate approximately 60°C each time. Incubate the plate aerobically at 35°C for 24 hours.

The four winning strains with the most growth will be identified with the MALDI-TOF, and these winning strains will move on to Round 2.

Round 2: Conditioning (Semi-Finals)

The final four strains will be subjected to anaerobic growth conditions at 35°C for 24 hours:
To participate, subculture by touching a single colony with 1 µL inoculating loop of each winning strain from Round 1 onto TSA and incubate anaerobically at 35°C for 24 hours. The winner will be determined by the most growth across quadrants.

Round 3: Finals – Who can withstand the heat?

The final round will test the last two strains’ ability to survive growth at an elevated temperature.

To participate, subculture by touching a single colony with 1 µL inoculating loop of each winning strain from Round 2 onto TSA and incubate at 43-47°C under aerobic conditions for 24 hours. Please note 35°C will be used as a control.

The strain that best survives the heat, defined by the most growth across quadrants, will be named the 2022 Microbe March Madness champion.


The most valuable player of the Microbe March Madness will be determined by the largest zone of hemolysis of Sheep’s blood agar. Either participate by plating each organism for beta-hemolytic activity or indicate on the bracket which organism you think is the better beta!

How to Play

  1. Complete a Microbe March Madness 2022 Tournament Bracket.
  2. Submit your completed bracket to us here. Everyone who submits a bracket by Wednesday, March 9, 2022 will receive a Microbe March Madness T-shirt.
  3. Follow us on social media to see the results, starting with Round 1 on Thursday, March 10. Use #MicrobeMarchMadness to follow the competition and share your bracket and photos as you participate. Everyone who submits an agar plate photo of your champion microbe will be entered for a grand prize drawing. The champion bacterium will be announced on Thursday, March 31.

Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to see the results!


Blank profile photo Jerry Crissman

I’m just guessing

Written by Microbiologics

Microbiologics is the foremost biological products and services provider, focused on protecting the health and safety of people around the world. For over 50 years, they have been partnering with healthcare and life science laboratories, manufacturers and suppliers across the globe to co-create and provide biological control materials, assay services and consulting for microbiology, molecular diagnostics and virology. Headquartered in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, the company has additional facilities in California, Kentucky and Michigan. Microbiologics has advanced industry standards for biological controls by adopting the most rigorous testing and quality standards including ISO 13485, ISO/IEC 17025, and ISO 17034. The company has an extensive distribution network spanning over 150 countries. For more information, visit microbiologics.com.

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