Julie Wolf

Julie Wolf

ASM Communications Social Media Specialist Julie Wolf spent her research career focused on medical mycology and infectious disease. Broadly interested in microbiology and scientific communication, she has taught at Long Island University and the community biolab Genspace and has written for the Scientista Foundation and Scholastic’s Science World magazine. Follow her on Twitter for more ASM and Microbiology highlights at @JulieMarieWolf.

Thursday, 06 August 2015 13:40

Learning what Listeria likes about lox

Do you enjoy lox on your bagel? A refreshing ceviche in the hot summer weather?  New research published this week in Applied and Environmental Microbiology highlights the importance of proper storage of salmon and other meats that require no cooking prior to eating.

Thursday, 30 July 2015 13:34

Rethinking the cell wall

Budding microbiologists learn that the cell wall of bacteria and fungi plays an vital structural role. Indeed, spheroplasts (cells that have had their walls removed) are easily lysed with water, unable to maintain osmotic stability. Part of the cell wall duty is to remain rigid and provide the cell shape – this is most obvious when seeing the round spheroplasts from a rod-shaped cell (pictured).

The doctor enters the patient’s room for the fourth visit in three days. Her immunosuppressed patient was transferred from a small local clinic to this large research facility to provide more intensive treatment. Despite this, the patient is deteriorating, and suffering from multiple infections. A culture has just come back from the microbiology lab, which shows the Klebsiella pneumoniae isolated from the patient is resistant to ertapenem, imipenem, and meropenem – the isolate is a carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). The drug susceptibility testing directs therapeutic decisions, but an important question remains: did the patient pick up this resistant strain in this hospital or was it brought from the small local clinic?

Thursday, 23 July 2015 12:53

Signaling a stop to biofilm formation

Many reports focus on bacterial growth in water (especially nutrient-rich waste water), but bacteria also grow well – if not better – on surfaces, where they can form a biofilm community. Biofilms are surface-dwelling microbes growing in a single- or multispecies mixture, encased in an extracellular matrix. Scientists study many characteristics of biofilms – nutrient and oxygen gradation, gene expression patterns, adherence capabilities – but important to healthcare systems is the resilience of biofilms. Biofilms are extremely resistant to antibiotic treatment, and thus a common problem of hospital-acquired infections.

It started around this time last year, in August 2014. Young children with respiratory distress were arriving in unusual numbers to Kansas City’s Childrens Mercy Hospital. Soon the Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago had a similar report. By mid-October, 691 people, mostly young children, were associated with the outbreak, which was diagnosed as Entervirus D-68 (EV-D68) infection. Recent data counts at least 1153 confirmed cases that have resulted in 14 deaths, with the total number of infected individuals unknown (since most people with colds don’t go to the doctor, let alone have their cold-causing microbe sequenced).

Clyde (Chip) Manuel and Dr. Lee Ann Jaykus are excited about their results. “I’m very proud of this story. It’s going to have pretty immediate benefits,” says Manuel, a senior graduate student in Dr. Jaykus’ lab at NC State. “This is a great example of applied research that has a basic science component,” says Jaykus. The results they are excited about are published in the August issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

When asked what inspired her to test a derivative compound from a saltwater sponge against HIV replication, investigator Dr. Susana Valente laughed.

This past weekend, the New York Times ran an article addressing the connection between the microbiome and mood. Evidence is increasing that resident microbes can affect host systems such as the immune system, the digestive system, and, more and more, the nervous system. However, the human microbiome is very complex, with over 1000 different species (and that’s just bacteria!). There are a number of hard-to-control variables when conducting human microbiome studies, such as diet and other potentially confounding factors. These can complicate drawing strong conclusions in human microbiome studies.

Food-related microbiology can be one of the most fun or least fun ways to interact with microbes. In the ‘most fun’ category, scientists and non-scientists alike can use microbes to create delicious foods from fermentative processes; in the ‘least fun’ category, scientists and non-scientists alike can experience the effects of foodborne disease. Regardless of the microbial interaction you’ve experienced, ASM has a number of resources to keep you on top of the most recent food microbiology research. We’ve collected some of the most recent for your reading pleasure:

Have you ever gone to the beach, ready for a day of sun and sand, only to find a warning sign? One of the most common reasons beaches close is due to the presence of coliform bacteria. These indicator bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, are used as markers for fecal waste, since their presence can suggest the presence of other, more pathogenic species, such as Shigella or Salmonella. E. coli is used as an indicator species because the lower infectious dose of these other pathogens means that they are harder to detect. E. coli is present in much higher numbers, and is therefore easier to detect. Currently, most surveillance is done through culture-based methods, but this method of measuring bacterial contamination can sometimes lead to misleading results.



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