New Research Identifies Drug Target for Dengue Virus

Washington, DC – February 8, 2016 – No vaccine or drug has yet become available against the Dengue virus. A flavivirus like the newly prominent Zika virus, Dengue has become a leading cause of serious illness and death in some Asian and Latin American countries. Now a team of Dutch investigators has data suggesting that a protein in dengue virus that goes by the scientific name, NS4B, would make a promising target for antiviral drug development. The research is published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Natural Clay Deposit May Hold Keys to Defeating Hospital Infections

Washington, D.C.—January 26, 2016— Researchers have uncovered potent antimicrobial activity in a natural clay deposit found on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. The research, published this week in mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, shows that the clay can kill members of the ESKAPE group of bacterial pathogens, the culprits behind some of the deadliest and most antibiotic-resistant hospital-acquired infections.

Periodontitis and Heart Disease: Researchers Connect the Molecular Dots

Washington, DC – September 11, 2015 - Periodontitis is a risk factor for heart disease. Now a team of researchers has shown that a periodontal pathogen causes changes in gene expression that boost inflammation and atherosclerosis in aortic smooth muscle cells. The research is published ahead of print in Infection and Immunity, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

S. aureus Can Spread from Blood to Eye, Endangering Vision

Washington, DC - January 25, 2016 - Nearly ten percent of cases of Staphylococcus aureus infections of the blood spread to the eyeball, according to a team of Korean clinical investigators. That spread can severely impair vision, and even cause blindness. The research was published January 11 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Decontamination Exterminates Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria from Pig Farm

Washington, DC – September 4, 2015 - Decontamination protocols eradicated both methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and antibiotic resistant, pathogenic intestinal bacteria, the Enterobacteriaceae, from a pig farm. The research appears online September 4th in ASM’s journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Recombinant Bacterium Boosts Production of Compound that Can Relieve Menopause Symptoms

Washington, DC - January 22, 2016 - A soy isoflavone derivative that goes by the scientific moniker, (S)-equol, has proven potent for mitigating menopausal symptoms. However, it has been impossible to produce in quantities sufficient for widespread commercial nutraceutical production. But now, a team of Korean researchers reports having constructed a recombinant bacterium which they say can boost production. The research is published January 22nd in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Why do Certain Hormonal Contraceptives Increase the Risk of HIV?

Washington, DC – September 1, 2015 - In recent years, evidence has been building that injectable contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera or DMPA) is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection. Now a study published in the September 1st issue of mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, provides a biological explanation for the phenomenon. The findings will help women make more informed choices about birth control.

Azithromycin During Delivery: Weighing Benefits and Costs

Washington, DC – January 13, 2016 - Some infants of lactating mothers given the antibiotic and antimalarial, azithromycin, during delivery may be protected from disease, or harmed by the drug. These findings are the results of the most comprehensive evaluation of the transfer of azithromycin into breast milk to date. “Young infants cannot metabolize medicines as well as older children or adults and so even relatively small amounts absorbed from breast milk may produce effects, both therapeutic and adverse, in some suckling infants,” explained corresponding author Timothy Davis, MB, D. Phil. The research is published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Oysters Harbor, Transmit Human Norovirus: Avoid Raw Ones

Washington, DC - August 28, 2015 - Oysters not only transmit human norovirus; they also serve as a major reservoir for these pathogens, according to research published August 28 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. “More than 80 percent of human norovirus genotypes were detected in oyster samples or oyster-related outbreaks,” said corresponding author Yongjie Wang, PhD.

Antibiotics Pave Way for C. difficile Infections by Killing Beneficial Bile Acid-Altering Bacteria

Washington DC – January 6, 2016 – New research from North Carolina State University and the University of Michigan finds that bile acids which are altered by bacteria normally living in the large intestine inhibit the growth of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. C. diff is a harmful bacterium that can cause painful and sometimes fatal infections. The work sheds light on the ways in which some commonly used antibiotics can promote C. diff infections by killing off the bile acid-altering microbes. The researchers’ findings appear January 6th  in mSphere, the American Society for Microbiology’s new open access journal. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grant K01GM109236).

Hepatitis A-Like Virus Identified in Seals

Washington, DC – August 25, 2015 - Scientists in the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health have discovered a new virus in seals that is the closest known relative of the human hepatitis A virus. The finding provides new clues on the emergence of hepatitis A. The research appears in the July/August issue of mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Bacterium Carrying a Cloned Bt-Gene Could Help Millions Infected with Roundworms

Washington, DC - December 18, 2015 - Intestinal nematodes and roundworms infect more than one billion people worldwide. These parasites lead to malnutrition and developmental problems, especially in children.  Unfortunately, resistance to the existing drug treatment is increasing. Now a team of researchers has successfully inserted the gene for a naturally-occurring, insecticidal protein called Bt into a harmless bacterium. This could then be incorporated into dairy products, or used as a probiotic to deliver the protein to the intestines of people afflicted with roundworms. The research is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Long Distance Travelers Likely Contributing to Antibiotic Resistance's Spread

Washington, DC – August 20, 2015 - Swedish exchange students who studied in India and in central Africa returned from their sojourns with an increased diversity of antibiotic resistance genes in their gut microbiomes. The research is published 10 August in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Research Ushers in New Era of Boutique Chocolate

Washington, DC – November 20, 2015 - A team of Belgian researchers has shown that the yeasts used to ferment cocoa during chocolate production can modify the aroma of the resulting chocolate. “This makes it possible to create a whole range of boutique chocolates to match everyone’s favorite flavor, similar to wines, tea, and coffee,” says Jan Steensels, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leuven, and the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, Belgium. The research is published November 20 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

Following Maternal Transmission, Group B Strep Mutates to Sicken Infants

Washington, DC - August 18, 2015 - Group B streptococcus, a mostly benign inhabitant of healthy adults, is one of the world’s leading causes of neonatal sepsis and meningitis. A team of French investigators has now shown that such cases might occur when the microbe mutates within the infant following transmission from the mother. The research appeared August 17 in the Journal of Bacteriology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

Coconut Oil Shows Promise in the Prevention of Deadly Bloodstream Infection

Washington, DC – November 18, 2015 – Coconut oil may be effective at combating infection with Candida albicans, according to a study published November 18th in the American Society for Microbiology’s new open access journal mSphere. The study found that coconut oil consumption reduced gastrointestinal colonization by C. albicans in mice.

Unlikely Element Turns up in Enzyme; Commercial Renewable Fuels Might Ultimately Result

Washington, DC – August 14, 2015 - Tungsten is exceptionally rare in biological systems. Thus, it came as a huge surprise to Michael Adams, PhD., and his collaborators when they discovered it in what appeared to be a novel enzyme in the hot spring-inhabiting bacterium, Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. The researchers hypothesized that this new tungstoenzyme plays a key role in C. bescii’s primary metabolism, and its ability to convert plant biomass to simple fermentable sugars. This discovery could ultimately lead to commercially viable conversion of cellulosic (woody) biomass to fuels and chemical feedstocks, which could substantially reduce greenhouse emissions. The research is published 14 August in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Fungus Causes Emerging Snake Disease Found in Eastern U.S.

Washington, D.C.—November 17, 2015—Researchers working for the U.S. Geological Survey have identified the fungal culprit behind an often deadly skin infection in snakes in the eastern U.S. Published this week in mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the research shows that Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is the definitive cause of snake fungal disease (SFD), which will help researchers pinpoint why it is emerging as a threat to snake populations and how its impacts can be mitigated.

Pathogen Grows on Cold Smoked Salmon by Using Alternative Metabolic Pathways

Washington, DC - August 4, 2015 - The pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes grows on refrigerated smoked salmon by way of different metabolic pathways from those it uses when growing on laboratory media. The research could lead to reduced incidences of food-borne illness and death, said principal investigator Teresa Bergholz, PhD. The research appears July 24 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Irradiated Anthrax Can Be Sequenced – Fast!

Washington, DC – November 13, 2015 - These days, mail addressed to selected government offices gets irradiated, in order to kill any biological agents, notably anthrax spores. The downside of this is that viable spores have been needed to identify the anthrax strain, which can be critical to treating those infected. But now Henry S. Gibbons, PhD, has shown that full sequences can quickly be determined from irradiated spores. The research is published November 13 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Research Could Lead to Protective Probiotics for Frogs

Washington, DC - July 30, 2015 - In research that could lead to protective probiotics to fight the “chytrid” fungus that has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide, Jenifer Walke, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, and her collaborators have grown bacterial species from the skin microbiome of four species of amphibians. The research appears July 10 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

One Course of Antibiotics Can Affect Diversity of Microorganisms in the Gut

Washington, DC – November 10, 2015 – A single course of antibiotics has enough strength to disrupt the normal makeup of microorganisms in the gut for as long as a year, potentially leading to antibiotic resistance, European researchers reported this week in mBio®, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

American Society for Microbiology Announces Appointments of mSphere Senior Editors

Washington, DC— July 30, 2015 - ASM is pleased to announce the appointments of nine outstanding scientists as Senior Editors for the new pan-microbiology open-access journal, mSphere™, which will launch early in 2016.   The new journal will publish high-quality scientific studies in all areas of the microbial sciences, including work by scientists who work with microbes but may not consider themselves "microbiologists."   Under the leadership of Founding Editor in Chief Michael Imperiale, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan, the Senior Editors will play a key role in ensuring that mSphere provides streamlined decisions and thoughtful reviews.  Papers will be continuously published so that important findings will be made available to the scientific community as rapidly as possible.

New Technique Could Prevent Biofilms on Catheters and Medical Implants

Washington, DC – October 30, 2015 –  Biofilms—mats of bacteria similar to the plaque that grows on teeth—frequently coat the surfaces of catheters, and of various medical implants and prostheses, where they can threaten lives or lead to failure of the implants. Antibiotics are impotent against biofilms. Now Jakub Kwiecinski, PhD, Tao Jin, MD, PhD, and collaborators show that coating implants with “tissue plasminogen activator” can prevent Staphylococcus aureus, the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, from forming biofilms. The research is published 30 October in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

American Society for Microbiology Announces Appointments of mSystems Senior Editors

Washington, DC— July 30, 2015 - ASM is pleased to announce the appointments of ten outstanding scientists as Senior Editors for mSystems™, a new open-access journal in systems microbiology led by Founding Editor in Chief Jack Gilbert, Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution and the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago and Microbial Ecologist and Group Leader at Argonne National Laboratory.   mSystems will launch in early 2016 and will publish cutting-edge advances in systems microbiology with a focus on research that achieves insights into the metabolic and regulatory systems on the scale of both a single cell and of entire microbial communities.  

Multi-tasking Flu Vaccine Could Provide Better Protection against Outbreaks

Washington, D.C.—October 27, 2015—Australian researchers have found a way to boost the effectiveness and cross-protective capabilities of an influenza A vaccine by adding a simple component. Published this week in mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the research in mice could lead to better seasonal flu vaccines for humans, and also vaccines that could provide community protection in the early stages of an outbreak of a novel flu virus strain.

Cystic Fibrosis Microorganisms Survive on Little to No Oxygen

Washington, DC – July 28, 2015 – Microbes contributing to cystic fibrosis (CF) are able to survive in saliva and mucus that is chemically heterogeneous, including significant portions that are largely devoid of oxygen, according to a study published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Bacteriophage Treatment Decontaminates Infant Formula

Washington, DC – October 23, 2015 - A phage showed strong anti-microbial activity against a type of food-borne bacterium that often kills infants after infecting them via infant formula. Phages are viruses that infect only bacteria. The research is published October 23 online in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Universal Flu Vaccine in the Works

Washington, DC – July 21, 2015 - Each year, scientists create an influenza (flu) vaccine that protects against a few specific influenza strains that researchers predict are going to be the most common during that year. Now, a new study shows that scientists may be able to create a ‘universal’ vaccine that can provide broad protection against numerous influenza strains, including those that could cause future pandemics. The study appears in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Likely Drug Interactions In Placenta Could Harm Fetus

Washington, DC - October 13, 2015 - To date, studies in pregnant women examining transport of drugs across the placenta are rare and inadequate, said Tomo Nabekura, PhD. Such knowledge could be vital to preserving fetal health. In a new laboratory study, Nabekura and colleagues have illuminated a piece of this puzzle, and the results hint that mothers taking new anti-hepatitis C and/or anti-HIV drugs along with anti-hypertensives or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) could be raising the risk of birth defects or stunting fetal growth, respectively. The research was published ahead of print in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

New Insights into Biofilm Formation Could Lead to Better Therapies, but Mysteries Remain

Washington, DC – July 20, 2015 - Biofilms are tough, opportunistic, highly antibiotic resistant bacterial coatings that form on catheters and on medical devices implanted within the body. University of Maryland investigators have now shown that a “messenger molecule” produced by the opportunistic human pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, encourages bacteria to colonize catheters in the bladders of laboratory mice, where they form biofilms. The research appears July 20th in the Journal of Bacteriology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

Listeria Can Grow on Unrefrigerated Caramel Apples

Washington, DC – October 13, 2015 – Caramel apples punctured with dipping sticks and left unrefrigerated over the course of a couple of weeks may harbor a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes, according to a study published this week in mBio®, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Dairy Products Boost Effectiveness of Probiotics

Washington, DC - July 17, 2015 - The success of probiotics for boosting human health may depend partly upon the food, beverage, or other material carrying the probiotics, according to research published on July 10th in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Vaginal Microbes Influence Whether Mucus Can Trap HIV Virus

Washington, DC —October 6, 2015— HIV particles are effectively trapped by the cervicovaginal mucus from women who harbor a particular vaginal bacteria species, Lactobacillus crispatus. The findings, published this week in mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, could lead to new ways to reduce or block vaginal transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Better Chocolate with Microbes

Washington, DC - July 15, 2015 - For decades, researchers have worked to improve cacao fermentation by controlling the microbes involved. Now, to their surprise, a team of Belgian researchers has discovered that the same species of yeast used in production of beer, bread, and wine works particularly well in chocolate fermentation. The research was published ahead of print July 6th in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

Pathogen-Carrying Neotropical Ticks Ride Migratory Birds into US

Washington, DC - October 2, 2015 - Tick species not normally present in the United States are arriving here on migratory birds. Some of these ticks carry disease-causing Ricksettia species, and some of those species are exotic to the US. The research is published on October 2nd in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Multiple, Co-existing Groups of Gut Bacteria Keep Clostridium difficile Infections at Bay

Washington, DC —July 14, 2015—Multiple species of bacteria working together in healthy guts are responsible for keeping out nasty bacterial invader, Clostridium difficile, a hospital-acquired culprit responsible for 15,000 deaths each year. The study, published this week in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, could lead to tests to predict which hospital patients are at highest risk of infection and better management of infections.

New Virus Identified in Blood Supply

Washington, DC – September 22, 2015 - Scientists have discovered a new virus that can be transmitted through the blood supply. Currently, it is unclear whether the virus is harmful or not, but it is related to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human pegivirus (HPgV), the latter of which was formerly known as hepatitis G virus. The new virus, which researchers have named human hepegivirus-1 (HHpgV-1), is described in the September 22 issue of mBio, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

C. difficile Needs Iron, But Too Much Is Hazardous: New Insights Into Maintaining It “Just Right”

Washington, D.C. - July 6, 2015 - Those bacteria that require iron walk a tightrope. Iron is essential for their growth, but too much iron can damage DNA and enzymes through oxidation. Therefore, bacteria have machinery to maintain their intracellular iron within the “Goldilocks zone.” Now Theresa D. Ho, PhD, and Craig D. Ellermeier, PhD shed new light on how the pathogen, Clostridium difficile, which is the most common cause of hospital-acquired infectious diarrhea, regulates iron. The research is published online ahead of print July 6 in the Journal of Bacteriology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

Researchers Find Novel Signature in the Brains of Children with Cerebral Malaria: Disease exacerbated by HIV

Washington, DC - September 22, 2015 - Cells associated with inflammation and blood clotting accumulate in the brain blood vessels of children affected by a potentially fatal form of malaria called cerebral malaria (CM), potentially contributing to the disease process, an international team of researchers has found, and HIV can exacerbate this development. The work was published this week in mBio®, an online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Infection With Wolbachia Bacteria Curbs Fighting Among Fruit Flies

Washington, D.C. - July 2, 2015 - Male fruit flies infected with the bacterium, Wolbachia, are less aggressive than those not infected, according to research published in the July Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. This is the first time bacteria have been shown to influence aggression, said corresponding author Jeremy C. Brownlie, PhD, Deputy Head, School of Natural Sciences, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

Skin Microbiome Influences Common Sexually Transmitted Disease

Washington, DC – September 15, 2015 - For years, researchers have known that the human skin is home to a diverse community of microorganisms, collectively known as the skin microbiome. Now a new study has shown that individuals with a particular skin microbiome can effectively clear bacteria that cause chancroid, a sexually transmitted disease common in the developing world that has been linked to enhanced HIV transmission. The study, published in the September 15th issue of mBio, is the first prospective study to show that the skin microbiome can influence the outcomes of a bacterial infection.

Hantaviruses Are Highly Dependent on Cell Membrane Cholesterol to Gain Entry, Infect Humans

Washington, D.C. – June 30, 2015 – Hantaviruses use cholesterol in cell walls to gain access into cells and infect humans, according to laboratory research published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

American Society for Microbiology Announces Calls for Papers for New Open-Access Journals, mSphere and mSystems

Washington, DCSeptember 14, 2015— Founding Editors in Chief Michael Imperiale and Jack Gilbert have issued calls for papers for the American Society for Microbiology’s new open-access journals, mSphere™and mSystems™, respectively. Both journals will provide streamlined decisions and newly accepted manuscripts will be copyedited, composed, and published weekly. The online journals will launch in early 2016.

Human Urine Helps Prevent Bacteria from Sticking to Bladder Cells

Washington, D.C. —June 30, 2015—Human urine contains factors that prevent a common culprit in urinary tract infections (UTIs), uropathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria, from properly attaching to bladder cells, a necessary step for infection. The research, published this week in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, reveals a weakness that could be exploited to develop more effective, non-antibiotic treatments for UTIs.

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