Microbiology

Mike the Mad Biologist

Category archives for Microbiology

I don’t see the need to redescribe the recent paper about the discovery of bacteria that can might replace, in extremis, phosphorus with arsenic, which was overhyped by NASA, was poorly covered by most journalists, and which has compromising methodological problems (for good coverage, read here, here, and here; and snark). But what the paper…

And by hot, I mean employable. I’ll get to that in a bit, but I first want to relate some history. Back when I was a wee lil’ Mad Biologist, and molecular population genetics was in its infancy, there was a brief period where people had to be convinced that this stuff was useful (it…

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Human Microbiome Research Conference. At that meeting, one talk by Bruce Birren (and covered by Jonathan Eisen) mentioned something that was completely overlooked by the attendees. Now, I don’t blame them, since what Birren mentioned was about bacterial genomics, not the human microbiome. But here’s what I…

One of the constant assumptions in the field of antibiotic resistance is that the massive exposure of bacteria to antibiotics, and the evolution of resistance to these antibiotics, didn’t occur until after the widespread introduction of penicillin and other antibiotics less than a century ago. But ScienceDaily reports that we might have to rethink this:…

One of the common sayings in microbiology that drives me up a wall is the notion that 99% of all bacteria can’t be grown in the lab. This false statement stems from the observation that if you take any sample (soil, water, clinical samples) and look under a microscope we see many more bacterial cells…

Maryn McKenna makes a critical, yet neglected point about the recent whooping cough (pertussis) outbreaks that have been hitting California–one that emphasizes that vaccination not only protects the vaccinated, but everyone else: Between a day job as Scary Disease Girl and a childhood spent moving between continents, I am pretty much the most vaccinated person…

Imagine someone had designed a device that would essentially eliminate bloodstream infections (sepsis) caused by contamination of needleless injection ports. Great news right? Well, guess what happens next: Unlike some of the solutions floated by big medical device makers, such as coating the ports with silver, Shaw’s innovation added only a few pennies to the…

Definitely breaking new ground around here. A recent paper in PLoS ONE examines the hypotheses surrounding the ecology and evolution of Komodo Dragon saliva. For those of you whose Komodo Dragonology is a little bit rusty, the saliva of Komodo Dragons can lead to infections that weaken or even kill prey that survive the original…

When I first saw the title of this PloSOne article, “Unauthorized Horizontal Spread in the Laboratory Environment: The Tactics of Lula, a Temperate Lambdoid Bacteriophage of Escherichia coli“, I thought, “Hunh?!? You can actually publish articles about laboratory contamination?”, but it’s actually a very interesting article. In short, the article describes the discovery of a…

So I was at the ASM meeting last week, and one of the talks I heard was by Kim Ware about Clostridium difficile infection control: how one hospital learned to contain and prevent outbreaks (Note: these are from my notes; I haven’t downloaded the presentation yet). C. difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and…