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Tuesday, 20 December 2016 14:37

Reconstructing a Lichen’s Molecular Architecture

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Researchers have generated the first images of the molecular architecture of the microbial community of a lichen.
Treating patients with recurrent C. difficile infection with microorganisms alone reduces symptoms at a rate many times higher than any drug or chemical.
The call for abstracts is now open for Microbe 2017, the premier microbiology conference hosted by the American Society for Microbiology. This is your opportunity to submit your important research in the microbial sciences to the largest scientific audience, with a 50% higher chance of presenting your research in an oral presentation.
The better scientists understand how Zika virus infects its human hosts, the more likely they are to understand and control the long-term effects of infection, including microcephaly. A new report in the Journal of Virology demonstrates that Zika virus can infect the maternal uterine lining, and that this infection has a distinct effect on the immune response from other viral infections.
Tuesday, 13 December 2016 17:37

In case you missed it: best of mBiosphere 2016

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From archaeal viruses to zoonotic diseases, the breadth of microbiology stories covered on mBiosphere in 2016 was impressive. Here are some of the best posts on mBiosphere from throughout this past year.
While carbapenems aren’t allowed to be given to feedlot animals, other beta-lactam antibiotics are. This is a large class of drugs that includes extended-spectrum cephalosporin drugs. There is no direct link between the use of these extended-spectrum cephalosporins and selection for carbapenem resistance, but some scientists worry this may be a possibility, since the genes that confer carbapenem resistance can also confer extended-spectrum cephalosporin resistance. Carbapenem-resistant bacteria have now been found for the first time on a farm in the United States. This comes after multiple incidents of  carbapenem-resistant bacteria being found in Europe and Asia. The case is documented in Antimicrobial Agents and…
Actinobacteria are the bacterial phylum responsible for production of many clinically-relevant antibacterial compounds. Streptomyces is a soil-dwelling genus of actinobacteria that produces drugs like neomycin and chloramphenicol. Despite deriving many antibiotics already from Streptomyces, could there be still-undiscovered compounds made by these bacteria to increase our antimicrobial arsenal? Finding and characterizing these ‘cryptic’ pathways is the basis for a new study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
Misdiagnosis can lead to severe consequences for patients, and is a serious clinical issue. The newly emerging fungal pathogen Candida auris requires higher doses of antifungal medications to treat an infection than does C. albicans, highlighting the importance of proper diagnosis for best patient care. Thus far, the most accurate diagnostic systems involve sequencing part of the fungal genome. Could a more simple biochemical test differentiate between the different panel isolates?
Thursday, 17 November 2016 16:48

You don’t win friends with (precut) salad

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Given that the holidays are right around the corner, many of us will be trying to eat healthy outside of celebratory meals, and that includes many people who turn to salad as a healthy meal option. Salads do provide fresh nutrients, but new research in Applied and Environmental Microbiology suggests pre-cut salad greens may pose a risk for foodborne disease.
In a study published this week in mSphere researchers investigated ATM keypads across the city.The researchers did find plenty of microbes – mostly from normal human skin, household surfaces or traces of food – but no particular clustering by geography.
The issue of multidrug-resistance and the lack of antibiotics in the development pipeline have spurred researchers to pursue new ways to combat bacterial infections. One such method is using naturally occurring predatory bacteria
Raw milk collected from dairy farms has to travel to processing facilities before it is transformed into the delicious dairy products we consume. Because the milk from many dairy cows is collected together, any contamination issue from a single animal can lead to spoilage or contamination. How related are the microbiota of raw milk and the cows from which they come? A new study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology addresses this question using high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to compare the milk production environment and the raw milk microbiota.
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 11:00

Chlorhexidine use may select for colistin resistance

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Infection control is a vital part of maintaining a safe healthcare facility, and the use of biocides and disinfectants to eliminate potential pathogens is an important part of infection control strategy. Pathogens can spread among patients via transfer to surfaces like doors, floors, and countertops and then to healthcare workers, so these environments are cleaned with various antimicrobial treatments that include compounds such as bleach or chlorhexidine. A new study in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy suggests a frightening finding: exposure to chlorhexidine may select for chlorhexidine-resistant bacteria, and these resistance mechanisms may confer cross-resistance against antibiotics. 
One mission of the Microbial Observatory Experiments on the International Space Station is to examine the traits and diversity of fungal isolates, to gain a better understanding of how fungi may adapt to microgravity environments and how this may affect interactions with humans in closed habitats.
Biofilms, surface-attached microbial communities encased in an extracellular matrix, are one of the most common macroscopic microbial structures we can see in nature. Biofilms like those seen in pond scum, in dental plaque, or in hot springs, are mixed communities with the members forming both antagonistic and symbiotic relationships. Interkingdom biofilm interactions have been the focus of several recent mBio reports investigating fungal-bacterial dynamics during biofilm function and development, addressing some fundamental questions in biofilm biology.
Nitrates, it turns out, are a common dietary trigger for some of the 38 million Americans who get migraines. Nitrates are also found in cardiovascular medicines, because once they are turned into nitric oxide (NO) in the body, that produces vasodilation.
Tuesday, 18 October 2016 11:19

Seeking understanding of the bacterial Sec system

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How do bacterial proteins destined for export move from inside to outside the cell? As mBiosphere readers may know, there are a number of secretion systems that bacteria use to move materials from inside the cell to outside the cell. Some of these systems, such as the Sec secretion system, are conserved across Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. Despite decades of studies on bacterial secretion, new discoveries are still uncovering details about how these secretion systems function. Now, a recent report out from the Journal of Bacteriology makes a fundamental change in how the Sec secretion system interacts with bacterial proteins…
How Zika virus went from an obscure footnote to a major health crisis is tracked through genomic analysis
Microbial infection is implicated in an ever-growing number of types of cancer. Adding to the already long list of microbial-associated cancers, an increasing body of evidence suggests breast cancer may also be associated with a specific microbial milieu. A report in Applied and Environmental Microbiology confirms that the breast tissue microbial inhabitants differ between women with and without breast cancer. 
Thursday, 06 October 2016 15:38

S. mutans mutation increases fluoride resistance

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Microbes are excellent at adapting to stressful situations, which is part of the reason antibiotic resistance is a problem today. Constant exposure to antimicrobials such as triclosan have selected for resistant strains, rendering the compound ineffective. This is why the FDA recently banned triclosan from some personal care products – so that it will still be effective when we need it to be. This is part of a broader movement to practice antibiotic stewardship, or use these compounds only when they’re needed. Not all stress involves antimicrobials, however.