Inaugural edition of Animalcules--the carnival of the wee beasties

Welcome to the introductory edition of Animalcules!

Our first, and most pressing, issue is the name. As was pointed out in the comments here, there's already a monthly column in Microbe (formerly ASM News) called "Animalcules." But I still like the name, so I was thinking of incorporating something else with it. "Carnival of the Animalcules?" Eh, lots of those "carnival of"s out there. Try to be a bit more pretentious--"Festivus microbius" or something where it sounds like I almost know some Latin? Nah--too many people around these parts who actually *do* know Latin. So, after much thought and no brilliant ideas, Animalcules it will be, provided I don't get sued or anything. Or just change my mind.

Thanks to those of you who submitted posts (including a pair who came out of "blog retirement" to contribute!) In addition to the posts I receive, I'm including a few others I found 'round the net that I just thought were cool.

So, without further ado...

From Ruth at the Biotech Weblog: Yogurt bacteria--not just for eatin' anymore. Find out what those cwazy scientists have engineered strains of lactic acid bacteria to produce.

From RPM over at Evolgen, learn how the ecologic diversity in the Amazon differs greatly when you contrast microbial species with animal species, and find out why this is.

Joseph's post over at Immunoblogging shows one reason why all this microbial diversity is something we need to investigate, noting the incredible amount of antibiotic resistance in soil bacteria. If some of these bugs become emerging human pathogens, we're screwed.

Of course, antibiotic resistance is always a hot topic when discussing these wee critters. Two other posts in this week's edition also tackle the issue.

Moment of Science is a fairly new blog (though it's already made the rounds with this enzyme map). PharmB admits her dirty little secret and lays the smackdown on a recent Dembski post over at...well, y'know, that blog-which-shall-not-be-named. (Josh over at Thoughts from Kansas and Mike the Mad Biologist also weigh in).

I'm stealing another one of Mike's posts on antibiotic resistance as well, discussing why you might not want to feed Fido raw chicken. Well, at least if you want to keep them Campylobacter-free.

Paul is one of those who was kind enough to come out of blog retirement to write up a post for the carnival. He discusses quorum sensing, biofilms, and why what you were taught in microbiology class might be wrong. Okay, or at least incomplete.

Another semi-retired reader over at Mccavity the Mystery Cat (you really need to explain that name!) sends this post discussing the meningococcus outbreak that wasn't--a good example of why we need more science-trained journalists.

Ewen over at another new blog, Complex Medium, shares an interview he conducted with parasitologist Robert Desowitz. Desowitz discusses policy, tropical disease, eradication potential, and his interest in the way parasites and other microbes affect host behavior-- an interest of mine as well.

Discussion of parasites continue over at ye old Science and Politics blog, where coturnix explains how Plasmodium--the parasites that causes malaria--"know" the right time to burst out of red blood cells. That time just happens to coincide with maximal mosquito activity--check it out to find out what causes this.

Speaking of my interests, I'll include one of my posts on a new paper on streptococcal pathogenicity. While the creationist and ID types are always demanding these huge changes in DNA to "prove evolution," this new paper shows how a mere 7 base pairs can significantly alter gene expression in Streptococcus pyogenes (the group A streptococcus). Sometimes, less is more.

A reader emailed me this link earlier in the week, and I kept forgetting to post it. Over at Emerging Technology Trends, Roland writes about an advance in microscopy that allows researchers to see the inside of a virus. Complete with movie links.

One final link I'm stealing. Ocellated brings home two stories about a fungus attacking frogs.

So, there you have it--the inaugural edition of Animalcules. Thanks again to everyone who submitted posts and took the time to mention this on their own blogs. The next edition will be Thursday, February 23rd, back here again. I already have a few volunteers for whenever I decide to move it off this site, so let me know if you're interested in that on a future date.

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congratulations on the launch of "animalcules".. makes me feel like we're a league of leewoenhoek's decendants :)

I submit Animalcules on Parade... or Animaculagirie. I need a vacation. :)

Anyhoo, looking forward to reading the posts.

The name comes from the broadway playCats.(The character is largely based on Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. If you'll notice, the spelling is different. That was just because I had not ever seen the name spelled before. It sounded right to me when I decided to use it, so I stuck with it. It just seemed like a good name to use when I needed to pick a username that didn't give away my name or address.

Tara,

Thanks for the link... I'm honored. I was reading the post and had a thought about something I could write that would qualify for the carnival... I was surprised to scroll down and see I'd already made it. :)

Maybe it's too cheasy, but I actually like Festivus microbius. I think it's descriptive, and I think it's a very light hearted way to poke fun at ourselves and our vocabulary.

The name comes from the broadway playCats.

Gasp! L'horreur!! From Cats my erse - it's from TS Eliot's wonderful poem. Don't give the nauseating Andrew Lloyd Webber credit he doesn't deserve!

Don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware of the poem as well. I just saw the play first, THEN discovered the poem, so I have to say that my initial inspiration was the play. Anyway, that's the source.

Fabulous site - will certainly be a regular must-read. Thank you very much.

Re McCavity the Mystery Cat, the source of the musical "Cats" is T.S. Eliot's OLD POSSUM'S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS, and "Possum" apparently was a nickname of T.S. himself.

By biosparite (not verified) on 09 Feb 2006 #permalink

Seems like a success even on the short notice that it was prepared on. It seems that a certain paper on antibiotic resistance in science got a fair amount of attention, but only because the local clown was pies at it. :( Oh well.

Incidentally, I take it that topics on immunology are included ;)