Microbiology

Category archives for Microbiology

The best offense is a good defensin

If you were going to design the perfect immune system, what would you do? This question is often posed to beginning immunology students, and the best answer may be so obvious that it doesn’t occur to most. The best immune system is one that prevent pathogens from ever gaining access to your squishy bits in…

A week of brain biggering

I got to spend last week in sunny California. I forgot how wonderful it is to sit and eat lunch outside! I was participating in a workshop held at the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI). The workshop was entitled Microbial Genomics and Metagenomics. Basically I spent the week learning about different tools that…

I mentioned this study a while ago, and promised a more detailed explanation. I apologize for how long it has taken, but here it is. How excited was I to learn that the most recent issue of Nature Geoscience had a special focus on deep sea carbon cycling? I admit it, pretty excited. I was…

Well I never…

PalMD has a great post about vaginas. More specifically, about the wonderful commensal bacteria that help keep a vagina at the proper pH, and what happens when they get booted out: From time to time, this normal balance of bacteria is disrupted. When this happens, the normally dominant Lactobacilli are outgrown by various anaerobic bacteria.…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – pathogens are devious little bastards: Discovery of a Viral NLR Homolog that Inhibits the Inflammasome In order to respond to a virus, a cell first has to recognize that it’s there. There are a lot of ways the cell tries to do this – some…

Domesticated Phages

There’s more to learn about the viruses that infect bacteria over at Discover. This time, it’s Ed Yong talking about the bits of DNA that can be leftover in bacterial genomes from viral infections, and how they might actually be helping their hosts: These captives are called cryptic prophages and they can make up a…

Thanks to Viktor at StrippedScience for letting me borrow his microbe New Year’s cartoon! Happy New Year! I was catching up on my blog reader and came across the NatureNews top science stories of 2010. I was curious how many of these stories would have something to do with microbes… turns out quite a few…

An so proceed ad infinitum

The vermin only teaze and pinch Their foes superior by an inch. So, naturalists observe, a flea Has smaller fleas that on him prey; And these have smaller still to bite ‘em, And so proceed ad infinitum*: -Jonathan Swift Even though I study the immune system, it always amazes me just how many creatures make…

Energy Scales

Bacteria are tiny. Compared to our cells, they can seem insignificant. There are about ten times more bacteria cells in your gut *right now* than there are human cells in your entire body, but they only make up about 5% of your mass. They’re tiny, but they’re successful – they live in places we can’t,…

As Boston gets buried under a layer of snow (wooo! blizzard!), the the Weekend Review makes a return with one of my favorite topics: gut microbes. The fields of immunology, microbiology, nutrition and metabolism are rapidly converging. Here we expand on a diet-microbiota model as the basis for the greater incidence of asthma and autoimmunity…