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Blogs by the American Society for Microbiology

Small Things Considered

The purpose of Small Things Considered is to share appreciation for the width and depth of the microbial activities on this planet. Moselio Schaechter and associate bloggers emphasize the unusual and the unexpected phenomena for which they have a special fascination.

Small Things Considered

Small Things Considered welcomes other microbiologists to answer queries, comment on their musings, write guest commentaries, and provide feedback.

The Blogger

Moselio Schaechter is an actively retired microbiologist, currently living in San Diego, California. He spent most of his research career working on growth physiology and bacterial cell organization. In 1985-86, he served as president of the ASM. Schaechter has a deep love of teaching, and has been told that his natural habitat is the other side of the lectern. He has authored several textbooks and co-edited treatises. He continues to write. After retirement, he has tried to satisfy his curiosity in broader microbiological phenomena, especially those related to ecology and symbiotic relationships. Schaechter's hobby is wild mushrooms. For a short account of his activities, visit his home page.



mBiosphere is a blog that brings you the latest news from American Society for Microbiology’s first online-only, open access journal, mBio™.  With the blog, we'll bring you highlights from articles published in the journal, along with interesting articles about the journal itself.  Subjects you'll read about here at mBiosphere might include:

  • Summaries of some of the most interesting articles in the journal,
  • Interviews with authors of mBio™ papers,
  • Descriptions of new features in mBio, and
  • mBio’s approach to open-access.

Our audience includes scientists and non-scientists alike, so we strive to get you the skinny on the best mBio™ articles without any more jargon or technical talk than is necessary. 

Like many blogs, the tone on mBiosphere is informal and direct.  We're also using other social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to get the message out about the journal, but here on the blog we'll offer you a more in-depth look at the science, along with the opportunity to discuss and debate the topics you read about.  Blogs are all about participation, so review our simple rules for comments (below) and use the "comments" link at the bottom of any given post to join the discussion.  

The Blogger

ASM's Social Media Editor, Julie Wolfe, Ph.D., contributes blog posts, Twitter updates, and Facebook content for the journal.  A scientist by training and a writer through practice, Merry has written about microbiology for print, online, podcast, and radio audiences. 


Site Tutorials

Website Introduction

An overview of www.microbeworld.org, its features and how the site can be used.

Website Registration Tutorial

A quick run through on how to register on www.microbeworld.org.

How to Set Up Your Profile

Step-by-step instructions on how to set up a profile on www.microbeworld.org

How to Submit Content

A primer on how to submit links, images, videos and upload content to www.microbeworld.org.

How to Interact on MicrobeWorld

This tutorial highlights the various ways to interact on www.microbeworld.org.

The User Tool Bar, Profile Page & More

The last tutorial for www.MicrobeWorld.org covers the user tool bar, the profile view, search functions and podcasts.

About RSS

rssRSS stands for really simple syndication. It's an acronym encompassing various data formats (xml, atom, rss, rdf) used for providing users with frequently updated content. RSS also allows for content to be syndicated accross web sites. Just about everything on MicrobeWorld is RSS enabled, so if you want to subscribe to an audio podcast, video podcast, submissions to the resources category, an individual user's contributions, or even comments on a particular post, you can. Following are instructions on how to take advantage of this technology.

How to Subscribe to MicrobeWorld's Podcasts

To subscribe to any of the podcasts, audio or video, on MicrobeWorld cick the iTunes icon or one of the other podcast buttons on the right under Subscribe to..." on the podcast's home page. This action will add the MicrobeWorld podcast to your list of favorite shows in your podcatcher/feedreader of choice. Once subscribed, you will be alerted to new episodes and they will automatically be downloaded as they become available. You can listen or watch the shows on your computer or on your MP3 player. If you don't have a podcatcher you will be invited to download one.

You can also use a regular RSS feed reader or an rss to email service to subscribe, but these will only alert you to the podcast's availability and will not download the enclosed audio or video file.

How to Subscribe to MicrobeWorld's RSS News, Video, Images, Resources, Comments, etc., Feeds

In order to subscribe to an RSS feed on MicrobeWorld you will need two things, an RSS reader or an RSS enabled web browser, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer, and the url/address of the RSS feed that you want to subscribe to.

Using a Web Browser


The Firefox browser has an RSS feature called Live Bookmarks. When you see the universal symbol for RSS rss or a button that says "subscribe", click the link. A webpage will open with a list of the stories or content items within the feed. At the top of the page, Firefox gives you a drop down menu after the text "Subscribe to this feed using". Select "Live Bookmarks." Next a pop up window will appear asking you what you want to name your feed and where you want to save it in your Bookmarks section. Click Add. You are now subscribed. To see what content has been updated, click bookmarks and look for the folder with the RSS icon and the name of the feed.


Similar to Firefox, Apple's Safari browser allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds using bookmarks, but with the addition of the options to add podcast feeds to iTunes and/or RSS updates to Apple's Mail application. When you see the universal symbol for RSS rss or a button that says "subscribe", click the link. A webpage will open with a list of the stories or content items within the feed. In Safari the options to subscribe appear on the right under "Actions". Hint: If you subscribe using Mail, updates will appear in your inbox.

Internet Explorer

The latest iteration of Internet Explorer (IE7) now allows users to subscribe to RSS Feeds. When you see the universal symbol for RSS rss or a button that says "subscribe", click the link. A webpage will open with a list of the stories or content items within the feed. At the top of the page you can choose to subscribe with iGoogle, Google Reader or IE7. If you choose IE7 the feed will be stored in your "Favorites," represented by the gold star on the top left of the browser toolbar.

Using a Feed Reader

1.) Download a RSS reader (see resources below for some recommended options.)

2.) Locate the web address (url) of the RSS feed (XML file) that you wish to subscribe.

3.) Install the feed reader on your computer.

4.) Insert the url of the news feed (there is usually an "add feed" button).

5.) Many of the news readers will allow you to set the interval that the software will look for a feed update others simply update daily.

6.) The information in the feed will be updated when the feed contains new content.

(Adapted from http://www.rss-specifications.com)

RSS to Email

If you prefer automatic email alerts for new activity on MicrobeWorld there are several web-based services that allow you to enter your email address and the RSS feed you are interested in. These services will then send you an email (usually at a time interval of your choice) with the latest content. Here are a few sites/services you can use:

Blog Alert! simple and easy.
Feed My Inbox simple and easy
News Gator Inbox Application. Allows you to receive RSS feeds in MS Outlook. (Windows)

RSS Resources


iTunes (Windows/Mac)
Juice (Windows/Mac/Linux)
Doppler (Windows/Mac)

Feed Readers

GreatNews (Windows)
FeedDemon (Windows)
NetNewsWire (Mac)
Lifera (Linux)

Web-based Feed Readers

My Yahoo!



What is MicrobeWorld?

MicrobeWorld is an interactive multimedia educational outreach initiative from the American Society for Microbiology that promotes awareness and understanding of key microbiological issues to adult and youth audiences and showcases the significance of microbes in our lives. (More here)

What is Microbiology?

Microbiology is the study of microbes and their interactions with humans, animals, plants, and the environment.  Microbes are those organisms usually too small to be seen by the naked eye, such as bacteria, viruses and archaea, and eukaryotes like yeast, protozoa and algae. (More here)

How Do I Interact with MicrobeWorld?

How do I submit content or a link to MicrobeWorld?
To share a URL for a news story, blog post, image, video, resource, etc., click “Submit” in the top left of the site to access our easy to use submission form. We'll give you options to provide a headline, description, image thumbnail, and the proper category for your submission. PLEASE DO NOT COPY AND PASTE THE ENTIRE ARTICLE OR RESOURCE ITEM UNLESS IT IS YOUR OWN WORK. 200 words is an acceptable excerpt length. Even better, add your own take on it, say why you think it is interesting or valuable, or ask others for their opinion or input.

To submit your own photo or document (i.e. research poster, classroom experiment, paper, etc.) on your computer, follow the same instructions above. You will also be presented with Creative Commons license options for your content.

You must be a registered user and logged in to submit. You must also adhere to our TOU.

How are people embeding videos and mp3 files?
For video files, all you need to do is enter the link of the page the video is on into the URL field. We will do the rest "automagically." Supported video sites include YouTube, Scivee.tv, MetaCafe, Daily Motion,Vimeo, MySpace and UStream. Videos from other sources will be links.

For MP3 audio files, we have a hack you can use. In your description enter:

[mp3remote]direct_link_to.mp3[/mp3remote] replacing the "[" with "{"

I submitted an item. Now where did it go?

New submissions live in the “Most Recent” tab for the category you submitted it to. However, based on various factors including ratings, comments, views, etc, your item could move to the “Most Popular” tab for the week, month, year or all-time, depending on when you submitted it of course and how much activity it sees.

If your content item doesn’t receive much attention or it has been rated poorly, it will slide back to deeper pages.

In rare instances, submissions can also be removed by users who have flagged content as inappropriate or if it violates our TOU. Removal is ultimately at the discretion of MicrobeWorld.

How do I find items a user submitted and/or commented on?
Click on the individual’s name under the title of a submission to view their profile. Here you can see a user’s activity, including submissions, comments, tags, and collections. You can also try a search for the user’s name.

What if the link I want to add is already on MicrobeWorld?
Well, someone beat you to the punch, but there's plenty you can do. Give it a star rating, add a comment, add it to your collection, or email it to a friend.

What is MicrobeWorld’s position on submitted items that provide similar content to that of an originating source?
When submitting content to MicrobeWorld, please link directly to the original source of that content. Blog posts are fine, as long as they're not plagiarized. However, if any URL within MicrobeWorld is consistently flagged as inappropriate by the MicrobeWorld community, that URL may be blocked from future submissions.

Can I submit non-English content?
MicrobeWorld is primarily an English-language content site. Please do not submit anything other than in English at this time. The only exception is for comments posted for Mundo de Los Microbios episodes. Ultimately, we do want to open the site up for Spanish language speakers, but its one language at a time for now.

I have an item that I want to submit, but it is not related to microbiology, biology or life science, or there isn’t a category for it. Can I submit it?
No, if your content does not relate in any way to microbiology, biology or life science, then please do not submit it. Content that is not related will be flagged as inappropriate by the community. Submission abuse will result in an immediate ban and account deletion. Any instance of pornography, sexist, racist, or other objectionable material will result in an immediate ban and account deletion.

How can I delete a story I submitted?
Once a story has been submitted to MicrobeWorld, it is dedicated to the public domain under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication, available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain according to our TOU. We do reserve the right to remove content that is determined to be in violation of our TOU at any time and at our discretion.

How can I edit a story I submitted?
If you would like to make changes to an item you submitted you can click the edit icon next to the title of your item. You will be guided through the submission process again.

How do I report a bug, problem or abuse?
If you have concerns about a submitted item, please flag it as inappropriate. You will be given a field to explain why before you submit.

If you uncover a software bug or some other problem, please use the Contact link in the footer of the site to explain the occurrence.

How do I get my image or video featured on the homepage?
Images and videos are chosen by MicrobeWorld’s editorial team from content submitted by the community. Any attempts to influence our decision will not help your case.

What are Tags?
Tags are non-hierarchical keywords submitters and site members can assign to a content item on MicrobeWorld. Tags help describe an item and allow it to be found again by searching the site or by viewing “My Tags” in the user toolbar. Tags can be chosen informally and/or personally by what makes sense to the individual. You can also click on a tag in an item to view other submitted content with the same tag.

What is a Collection?
Members of MicrobeWorld can add content items to an area in their profile called Collections. To do this, click on “Add to Collection” at the bottom of a submitted item. Users can view and organize collections in their profile. Essentially, MicrobeWorld is providing a way for you to bookmark and organize topics of interest that you can also share with other users. This may be particularly helpful in researching topics, considering classroom experiment examples, or recalling items you want to read or view in the future, but don’t have the time to right now.

How do I share content on MicrobeWorld with non-MicrobeWorld site members?

Found something interesting that you would like to share? There are many ways, most notably the “email” button to the right of an item’s title. You can also share items on Facebook, Delicious, Furl, Google Bookmarks, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit.


I have forgotten my username and/or password?
No worries. Visit the Login page and click “Forgot your Password?” or “Forgot your Username?” links. A verification email will then be sent to you with information to retrieve or change the information you forgot.

Is it ok to have more than one account on MicrobeWorld?
Absolutely not. This is to help prevent users from artificially inflating the popularity of items, which is explicitly against our TOU.

I want to change my user name, how do I do that?
First make sure the new username you want is not already in use. You can do that by logging out and going to the registration page and checking for the new user name you desire by entering it in the form and tabbing to the next field. Then you can request a change to your user name by contacting MicrobeWorld at microbe [at] asmusa [dot] org. Make sure to email us from the email address associated with your account.

I want to close my account, how do I do that?
You can request us to close your account by contacting MicrobeWorld at microbe [at] asmusa [dot] org. Make sure to email us from the email address associated with your account. If your email address has changed since you created your MicrobeWorld account, you can change it in the email preferences settings in your profile.

Why did you delete my account and remove my history?
MicrobeWorld takes a firm stance against users who violate our TOU. This is in order to protect the integrity of our site for the good of our community. Example violations include spamming, hate speech, pornography, etc. If the abuse is severe enough, then it will warrant an account removal.

A user is insulting, intimidating and/or harassing me, what can I do?
If you feel you have been legitimately insulted, intimated or harassed, and you are sure you didn’t provoke the user with comments of your own, then send us the story URL, username and/or the direct link to the offending comment. You can do that by clicking on “this comment” by the date of when the comment was made to get the direct URL. Then email us at microbe [at] asmusa [dot] org from the email address associated with your MicrobeWorld account.

How many star ratings does it take to make a story popular?
Star ratings is just one of the factors involved in having content become popular. Other factors include comments, views, etc. It is entirely possible that an item with poor ratings could be considered more popular than one that was rated with more stars. In other words, popularity does not mean a story is the best item on the site – similar to the old adage; beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Instead, MicrobeWorld is trying to extrapolate consensus from all the “beholders.”


How do I manage privacy settings on MicrobeWorld?
You can control what information to display in your profile by clicking “edit profile” under your avatar/image/photo under “My Profile” in the user toolbar. Check or uncheck the “Published” box next to each profile question.

How can I watch/follow site members' MicrobeWorld contributions or comments?
By using RSS feeds (click here for more about RSS) or visiting your friend’s profile. We hope to build more functionality and tools for this function at a later point.

How can I interact with others on MicrobeWorld?
There are several ways. To interact around specific content items you can engage the submitter and others by leaving a comment under that item. To interact with an individual, visit their profile and leave a comment there. You can also rate submitters as well on the profile section. If you want to contact a site member privately you can email them if they made their email address public, if not leave a comment with your email address on their profile. And, if the user has a Twitter name – connect through Twitter.

How many photos can I upload to my Profile?

Other ways to access MicrobeWorld

How does RSS work on MicrobeWorld?
Just about everything on MicrobeWorld is RSS enabled, so if you want to subscribe to an audio podcast, video podcast, submissions to the resources category, an individual user's contributions, or even comments on a particular post, you can. For detailed instructions and options, click here.


About MicrobeWorld


Established in 2003, MicrobeWorld is an interactive multimedia educational outreach initiative from the American Society for Microbiology that promotes awareness and understanding of key microbiological issues to adult and youth audiences, and showcases the significance of microbes in our lives.


The anthrax attacks of 2001 and the ensuing focus on bioterrorism, the potential of viral and bacterial infections for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the emergence of avian flu, and the public’s growing interest in alternative fuel sources have thrust microbes into unprecedented prominence in the headlines.

The American Society for Microbiology, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the biological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes, is capitalizing on this interest as an opportune time, a teachable moment on a national scale, to promote greater public awareness and appreciation of microbiology in general.

MicrobeWorld has additional value in informing the public about how science works. The various outreach methods feature the process of discovery, historical changes in research, and a variety of scientific careers in industry, academia, and government. One of the first MicrobeWorld Radio podcasts explained how microbes enter the initially sterile bodies of infants just hours after birth, establishing the microbial communities that stay with them for life. Other topics have included why the overuse of antibiotics is a growing problem, how microbes are key in the making of chocolate, and how microbiologists are on the front line in the war against infectious diseases that threaten human and animal health.


  • Leverage emerging communications technologies to promote the science of microbiology to the public and provide educational resources for all levels.
  • Repurpose the American Society for Microbiology’s resources for the "wired" generation.
  • Increase public understanding and appreciation of the vital role microbes play on our planet.
  • Use new technology to promote ASM’s resources to students, educators and other potential members of the Society.
  • Establish ASM as a leader in online science content.
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