Can the microbiome be used for forensic purposes? The skin microbiome is fairly stable, and a new Applied and Environmental Microbiology report assesses the use of genetic markers in the skin bacterium Proprionibacterium acnes for human identification purposes. 
Friday, 08 September 2017 16:46

New tools to investigate influenza virus targets

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How do we know which cells and what species are susceptible to viral infection? One way is to look for the presence of the viral receptor, if known. Sialic acid is the host cell receptor for influenza virus attachment, and a new mSphere report describes tools to help survey the species distributions of different sialic acid modifications that will inform susceptibility.
Determining the susceptibility of HIV to antiretroviral drugs is important for getting patients the right combination of ART. A new Journal of Clinical Microbiology compares next-generation sequencing to traditional Sanger sequencing and PCR analyses to determine the most accurate method of measuring viral resistance. 
Friday, 25 August 2017 16:02

Listeria biofilms resist disinfectants

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Cleaning and disinfecting food prep surfaces is vital to minimize the risk of foodborne pathogen contamination. A new Applied and Environmental Microbiology article shows that well-known foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes resists removal by current industrial formulations of disinfectants. 
Two-component signaling is important for many bacterial activities, including movement, growth, differentiation, and metabolism, among others. The latest Special Issue of the Journal of Bacteriology highlights recent advances in two-component signaling, including minireviews and primary research articles. 
Friday, 18 August 2017 10:09

Eucalyptus compound inhibits Candida biofilms

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Fungal infections, like those caused by Candida albicans, are a serious clinical problem. Systemic candidiasis can result from fungal biofilms growing on plastic indwelling devices. A new Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy article reports the anti-biofilm activity of a eucalyptus-derived compound, which acts by regulating fungal cell morphology.
Foot and mouth disease remains a threat to livestock. A Journal of Virology report describes a new chimeric vaccine scheme that can mix-and-match to protect against different serotypes. The research here demonstrates a vaccine platform that may be able to help responders rapidly provide protective vaccines during disease outbreaks. 
Thursday, 03 August 2017 16:12

C. auris survives on plastic

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The emerging multidrug-resistant fungal pathogen Candida auris has caused outbreaks in several healthcare facilities. New research from the Journal of Clinical Microbiology suggests the fungus can survive for weeks on plastic surfaces, emphasizing the importance of infection control in these facilities. 
Sometimes, it pays to never throw things out. That is the lesson learned from researchers who identified the cause of a mysterious epidemic in horses in Iceland.
Colistin acts by interacting with the bacterial envelope via charge interactions, a very similar mechanism to how host antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and bacterial membranes interact. A new Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy report demonstrates that clinical colistin-resistant isolates remain susceptible to AMPs.
Farmers want their livestock to put on weight quickly so they can increase profits when they sell their animals. A new Applied and Environmental Microbiology study reports a possible link between gut microbiome makeup and feed efficiency, one of the determinants of animal growth rate. This study may lay the groundwork for microbiome manipulation to help farms reduce the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.
Elite controllers are HIV-infected individuals who maintain undetectable virus levels even when not administered antiretroviral drugs. Understanding how the immune system of these elite controllers acts against HIV may help scientists develop effective therapeutics or vaccines. A new Journal of Virology study shows that antibodies from elite controllers activate ADCC-mediated killing of HIV-infected cells. 
Bacteria in attached biofilms have different characteristics than bacteria in planktonic culture, but neighbors can influence behavior too. A new Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy study reports that bacteria in biofilms a single-species biofilm have different drug susceptibilities than bacteria in multispecies biofilms. This research may impact the treatment of mixed biofilms in patients, such as those with cystic fibrosis, who suffer mixed biofilm infections.
Children with Plasmodium falciparum malaria are more susceptible to invasive infection with nontyphoidal Salmonella. A new Clinical and Vaccine Immunology report finds that the immune system of malaria-infected children has lower antibacterial activity. 
In a study published this week in mSphere, researchers describe how one group of salt-loving microbes, Halanaerobium, is most likely using environmental thiosulfate to produce sulfide—a toxic and corrosive chemical that well operators would like to avoid.
Controlling mosquito-borne diseases comes in many formats, including manipulation of the bacterial endosymbiont found in many insects,  Wolbachia. A recent Journal of Virology article reports the ability of different strains of Wolbachia to inhibit Zika virus infection in mosquito cells. Which strain is best at inhibiting infection?
Scientists now know that colistin resistance is much more widespread than previously thought. A new Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy report demonstrates that the same gene, mcr-1, can confer different levels of colistin resistance when expressed in different pathogenic bacterial species. This has important clinical and surveillance implications for resistant infections. 
A new Applied and Environmental Microbiology report demonstrates that farm practices can directly lead to development of novel antibiotic resistance mechanisms in soil microbes. The scientific team used functional metagenomics to identify 34 antibiotic resistance determinants, including a gene conferring a novel macrolide resistance mechanism. This study avoided prophylactic antibiotic use in livestock, a practice now largely banned in Canada and the United States, and therefore highlights the role of additional practices in selecting for the growth of antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria.
The cholera epidemic in Yemen has sickened 100,000 people and threatens to spread further. Researchers are hard at work, studying antibiotic resistance and disease mechanisms in Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera. We provide a short summary and links to recent ASM reports that may help scientists and clinicians fight this terrible disease.
Researchers have identified a small protein from the Wolbachia bacterium in psyllids that can “cross-talk,” moving to Candidatus Liberibacter within the insects to silence its prophage genes, thereby helping prevent an insect immune reaction that would likely be detrimental to both bacteria.