A Fungus Among Us

Mike the Mad Biologist

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Earlier this week, I attended the International Human Microbiome Consortium Meeting (the human microbiome consists of the organisms that live on and in us). I’m not sure to make of the whole microbiome initiative, but one thing is clear to me: this is being driven by the wrong group of scientists.

If don’t already know, the world’s frog (and other amphibian) populations are facing a massive decline. One cause is an infection by chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease. Scientists in New Zealand have announced that treatment with chloramphenicol, an antibacterial agent can cure chytridiomycosis:

Never Go to a Chinese Restaurant…

…and order anything that comes with “assorted meats.” You see, I thought that would mean mammals and birds. Instead, we got this:

Beware the Ug!

No, not those hideous boots! The Ug99 black stem rust fungus, a strain of Puccinia graminis. It doesn’t kill people directly, but it could wipe out much of the world’s wheat crop. As always, the developing world will probably be hit the hardest. And it’s a potential failure of surveillance.