Colloquium Reports

Microorganisms have been changing the climate, and have been changed by the climate, throughout Earth’s history. Microorganisms respond, adapt, and evolve in their surroundings at higher rates than most other organisms, allowing scientists to study the effects of climate change on microbes to understand and hopefully predict the future effects…
Reproducibility has long been a cornerstone of the scientific enterprise. In recent years, however, there has been growing concern over the lack of reproducibility of many published scientific studies. Systemic problems in the funding and culture of research likely contribute to the reproducibility crisis. Competition for scarce resources may pressure…
Built environments are the structures that humans create to shelter from the outdoors and provide spaces for living, working, playing, and getting places. Along with humans, pets, pests, and house plants, built environments house a range of microbes. Preliminary studies indicate that indoor spaces have distinct microbial communities, influenced by…
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has the capacity to provide crucial clinical benefits in patient care, patient outcomes, and public health, however, clinical laboratories must find ways to overcome operational, technical, regulatory, and strategic challenges in order to effectively employ NGS-based diagnostic tests. The Academy convened a colloquium on this topic in…
Bacteria and viruses are not always categorized as harmful microorganisms. In fact, these groups of microbes can be beneficial and can actively participate in many biological processes. With the perception of microorganisms being our partners, research is now being conducted to use microbes to treat disease and enhance human health.…
Disease-causing bacteria called pathogens can make us ill and if not treated and controlled, can lead to organ failure and even death. One such bacterial pathogen is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This organism is capable of causing a range of infections from skin and soft tissue infections to more life…
Are you a cheese connoisseur or interested in knowing more about how cheeses are made? You might be surprised to know that the cheese varieties that we enjoy today are due to the diverse activities of the microorganisms used in the cheese-making process. The unique “eyes” in Swiss cheese is…
 In contrast to their negative reputation as disease causing agents, some viruses can perform crucial biological and evolutionary functions that help to shape the world we live in today, according to Viruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change Agents. Viruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change Agents is based on the…
Microbes can be highly efficient, versatile and sophisticated manufacturing tools, and have the potential to form the basis of a vibrant economic sector. In order to take full advantage of the opportunity microbial-based industry can offer, though, educators need to rethink how future microbiologists are trained, according to a report…
The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, is not random, and scientists believe that it plays a role in many basic life processes.  As science continues to explore and better understand the identities and activities of the microbial species comprising the…
"How Microbes can Help Feed the World" looks in depth at the intimate relationship between microbes and agriculture including why plants need microbes, what types of microbes they need, how they interact and the scientific challenges posed by the current state of knowledge.  It then makes a series of recommendations,…
Where do new influenza viruses come from? How are they different from the influenza viruses that circulate every year? Why is vaccination so important? To help answer the many questions people have about this multi-faceted virus, the American Academy of Microbiology has issued a new report entitled FAQ: Influenza. The Academy…
Where does the virus come from? How is it spread? Can we predict when and where outbreaks will occur? What factors determine how sick a person will become if they are infected with West Nile virus?To help answer the many questions people have about this multi-faceted virus, the American Academy…
Concerned about antibiotic resistance? What if an insect pest becomes desensitized to the protective chemicals applied to crops? All kinds of living organisms have evolved mechanisms of resistance against the chemicals designed to control them – from bacteria, viruses, cancer cells to weeds. In the Academy of Microbiology’s newest, free…
Non-microbiologists may assume that the goal of water utilities should be the elimination of all microbes from our drinking water. But the water we drink has never been sterile; perfectly safe water contains millions of non-pathogenic microbes in every glassful. Like every other human built environment, the entire water distribution…
What do microbes have to do with beer? Everything! Because the master ingredient in beer is yeast – a microbe – and every step in the brewing process helps the yeast do its job better. A new freely-available report; FAQ: If the yeast ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy: The Microbiology of…
Easy-to-use, inexpensive point-of-care tests (POCTs) to diagnose infectious diseases are urgently needed in resource-limited settings where laboratory capacity is limited. Development and implementation of new POCTs requires coordinated efforts among the scientists and engineers designing the tests and the health care workers deploying them. Recognizing the need to connect these…
Microbes are critical players in every geochemical cycle relevant to climate including carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and others. The sum total of microbial activity is enormous, but the net effect of microbial activities on the concentration of carbon dioxide and other climate-relevant gases is currently not known. In February of 2011,…
Because vaccines have been so successful at controlling diseases like smallpox and polio in the United States, we often take our relatively epidemic-free world for granted. But less than a lifetime ago, these diseases and others were still real threats to health. Despite vaccines’ successes, many people do not know…
News headlines often paint E. coli as a vicious bacterium, capable of causing disease and death to those unfortunate enough to ingest it. But that is only a tiny minority of E. coli, and a very small part of the story of this remarkable bacterium; its relationship to human health…
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