Microbial Sciences

Explorations of the microbial sciences and a look at the many ways microbiology touches the world around us.
Articles are written by a volunteer team of ASM members.

Friday, 02 November 2018 14:51

From Poisoning to Pharmacy: A Tale of Two Ergots

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A mysterious illness known as ergotism used to sweep through communities, leaving death in its path. Then it was harvested to save lives.
Friday, 26 October 2018 11:10

A Brief History of Cancer Virology

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This article is the first part of a two-part series on the role of microorganisms, and especially viruses, in cancer .
Your cell’s vault organelles may be shrouded in mystery, but researchers are unlocking their potential to save lives and clean up the planet.
Designer microbes are coming to the rescue of patients suffering from two debilitating disorders that have no cure: PKU and Crohn’s Disease.
Thursday, 27 September 2018 09:40

Does a Minimal Genome Exist?

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How can we define a minimal genome containing only the genes necessary for life - and what can we learn from these efforts?
Invasive fungal infections were rare events until the mid-20th century. Why do fungi now kill more people each year than tuberculosis?
Currently available therapies are unable to extend glioblastoma patient survival past 20 months following diagnosis, so researchers are turning to viruses to help battle these tricky, invasive tumors.
Monday, 10 September 2018 10:49

Where Did Zika Go (and Will it Come Back)?

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In 2016, stories of Zika filled news headlines, causing concern to mothers, travelers and anyone living in mosquito-inhabited areas. But in the last year, the (mosquito) buzz has significantly died down—is Zika still circulating? Is it causing birth defects or other disease? A bit of history can help us predict the future for this recent global threat.
Exposure to the maternal microbiome is an important factor in the immune and metabolic well-being of infants. Through epigenetic alterations and systemic changes in the gut-brain axis, the microbes that are transferred during cesarean section or vaginal delivery might play an even bigger role than we thought.
People have been cultivating yeast since far before its discovery, making it one of the earliest domesticated organisms. Find out how we have shaped yeast into a microbial powerhouse from bread and beer to synthetic biology.
News reports have been covering the marine life dying on the shores of southwest Florida due to a toxic red tide. What exactly is a red tide? What causes a red tide? Why is it toxic? We answer some common questions about this microorganisms-based phenomenon.
Thursday, 02 August 2018 19:45

If You Give a Baby a Bath, and More Microbial Myths

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A followup to the “Microbial Myths” Youtube video that examines what the literature has to say about microwaving sponges, bathing newborns, and using Bunsen burners as a part of aseptic techniques at the bench.
As global plastic waste increases, science turns to specialized microbes to degrade previously non-degradable plastics.
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 13:27

Confessions of a mycophobe

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Mycology is a neglected field in microbiology and fungi are often overlooked or shunned in our everyday lives. But despite the contentious history of their classification, fungi have been adapted for many uses in industries including: medicine, textiles, construction and bioremediation.
Written by: Jennifer DeBruyn | Tips for writing a Broader Impacts section for NSF grant proposals
Microbiome-based technologies: how to measure and manipulate our microbial cohabiitants and use that information to inform health decisions.
While we don’t yet understand what makes a healthy microbiome, we know that certain interventions, such as antibiotic use and Cesarean sections, can change babies’ microbiomes, for better or for worse.  
How did eukaryotic life evolve? Here, one of the most controversial and puzzling questions in evolutionary history meets Star Wars and the Marvel Universe.
Written by Ashley Hagen Griffin | Erythema migrans - the bulls-eye rash of Lyme disease. What causes its unique appearance and behavior? We venture under the skin to find out!  
Monday, 16 April 2018 16:34

Plants and the bacteria at the root of it all

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Watch where you step! Soil-dwelling bacteria may hold the key to the future of agriculture.
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