Microbiology

Category archives for Microbiology

You’ve all heard of Malaria. It’s bad. It infects hundreds of millions of people, mostly in developing nations. It rarely leads directly to death*, but the resulting illness can lay people out for days or weeks, increasing an already heavy economic burden on many of the poorest countries in the world. Folks from affluent regions…

Maryn McKenna has a typically great post about the rise and spread of a strain of multi-antibiotic resistant Staph aureus. It arose in Holland, where it spread to pigs, picked up resistance to the antibiotic tetracycline, and then jumped back into humans. Then it spread across the EU and into the US. As is often…

Way back in high school bio, I learned about the 2 main ways that eukaryotic organisms (everything other than bacteria and archaea) make their metabolic living: photosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation (also known as respiration). These two processes are fundamentally related – photosynthesis combines CO2 and water to produce sugar and oxygen, while respiration breaks down…

What a lovely compliment

[A while back, I received a question from a reader via e-mail. Dear Beasties: If you had a mutation in either C4 or C5 which one would be worse… I guess the question is is it more important to have the ability to opsonize or the ability to lyse cells with the MAC complex? I…

More on the microbiome

When I first got into blogging, I thought I could carve out my niche talking about the microbiome – that enormous ecosystem of trillions living inside and on every one of us. However, it’s become increasingly clear that writers far more skilled than I have also decided to tackle this weighty (2-5lbs on average) subject.…

These days it is very hip to do things eXtreme. Don’t believe me? Try googling “extreme”. I suppose I have jumped on the bandwagon by studying life in one of the most “extreme” environments on Earth (deep sea hydrothermal vents). The environment I study is home to the most thermally tolerant organisms on the planet,…

Bacterial Burglary

I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. A group of thieves need to gain entry to a highly secured vault. The vault door is nearly impregnable, and once inside, there are motion sensors, security cameras and laser trip lines, all of which sound the alarm. When the security guards hear what’s happening, they are…

I saw this link on a friend’s facebook page, and left that tab open in my browser for a while, intending to write a post on it. Professor Charles Gerba, the lead researcher, swabbed the handles of 85 carts in four states for bacterial contamination. Gerba says 72% of the carts had a positive marker…

Check out this explanation in the New York Times science section of the 5 second rule. For the record, this will not stop me from eating fallen food off the floor. But that’s just now I roll.

I started writing a lengthy response to a reader comment on one of Heather’s posts, but decided it could use a post of it’s own. The question: As to being pathogenic, is it possible that many bacteria are pathogenic if given sufficient opportunity? [snip] It seems largely to me that the line between pathogenic and…