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Op-Ed: Microbiology in the news, the top stories of 2014

London Colney - The website Pharmaceutical Microbiology has reviewed the top ten microbiology stories and events that have made the news during 2014.

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Cow Dung Itself Breeds Antibiotic Resistance

When antibiotics first became available, farmers used them indiscriminately—dribbling streptomycin into chicken feed to boost growth and doling out low doses to fatten pigs. Now scientists know that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock can foster drug-resistant bacteria that are dangerous to ... Read More

Ancient Viruses Gain New Functions in the Brain

If thinking about the billions of bacteria taking up residence in and on your body gives you the willies, you probably won’t find it comforting that humans are also full of viruses. These maligned microbes are actually intertwined in the very fibers of our being—about 8 percent of our genetic ma... Read More

Cold Plasma Treatment May Reduce Risk of Norovirus Transmission

Treating surfaces with cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAPP) may reduce the risk of transmitting norovirus, a contagious virus leading to stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea, according to a new study.

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Serpentine cording in Mycobacterium tuberculosus

Pictured is a culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis growing colonies in the distinctive "serpentine cord" form seen in many strains of M. tuberculosis. These cords are made up of chains of cells that make chains due to a cell wall factor of MTB.

The cell wall structure of Mycobacterium is a m... Read More

Viroids, infectious agents that encode no proteins

Genomes of non-defective viruses range in size from 2,400,000 bp of dsDNA (Pandoravirus salinus) to 1,759 bp of ssDNA (porcine circovirus). Are even smaller viral genomes possible? The subviral agents called viroids provide an answer to this question.

Viroids, the smallest known pathogens, ar... Read More

Compound keeps virus sealed in its "pocket"

A new class of compounds may be an effective way to fight a virus that leaves children with serious respiratory infections and might be associated with polio-like symptoms.

Researchers used a technique called X-ray crystallography to learn the precise structure of the original strain of enter... Read More

Mapping for Ebola: A Collaborative Effort

One of the difficulties faced by teams responding to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is identifying individuals and communities residing in remote areas. Existing maps of these regions either do not exist or are inadequate or outdated. This means that basic data like location of houses... Read More

Scientists discover bacteria that survives solely by eating electricity

Researchers at Harvard and Yale have used some extreme gene-manipulation tools to engineer safety features into designer organisms.

This work goes far beyond traditional genetic engineering, which involves moving a gene from one organism to another. In this case, they're actually rewriting th... Read More

What Are the Consequences of Antibiotic Overuse?

The development and widespread adoption of so-called “antibiotics”—drugs that kill bacteria and thereby reduce infection—has helped billions of people live longer, healthier lives. But all this tinkering with nature hasn’t come without a cost. The more we rely on antibiotics, the more bacteria d... Read More

Predicting superbugs' countermoves to new drugs

With drug-resistant bacteria on the rise, even common infections that were easily controlled for decades -- such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections -- are proving trickier to treat with standard antibiotics.

New drugs are desperately needed, but so are ways to maximize the effective lif... Read More

A true cell-fie!

We all know about selfies, made popular by the camera in our cell phone. Well, here is the *real* deal - the 'cell-fie'. It's a photograph of my cell culture incubator full of stacks of plates in which HeLa cells are growing - and it's complete with my reflection. Read More

THE YEAR IN PLAGUES: EBOLA, THE INVASIVE SPECIES OF FLORIDA, AND MORE

As 2014 comes to an end, let’s take a look at the year's biggest outbreaks, pathogens, and technofix dramas.
Ebola was arguably the biggest story of the year. Some of the best coverage, in my opinion, included this epic Washington Post story exploring why the outbreak grew so out of control; Ri... Read More

The Importance of Microbial Eukaryotes in Premise Plumbing Systems

The environmental engineering research community now recognizes that it is important to understand the bacterial ecology of premise (building) plumbing systems to control opportunistic pathogens (OP). Many investigations, including those supported by the Sloan Foundation MoBE program, have begun... Read More

How gaming technology could stop the spread of Ebola

The room is framed by a small square of transparent plastic, clamped to each of my cheeks and secured with a strap around my forehead. My breathing, growing ever more laboured, sounds like an astronaut’s; the erratic inhale and exhale of someone short on oxygen and trying not to panic. A paper m... Read More

Ebola: How does it compare?

Since the first case, a two-year-old who passed away on 28 December 2013, there have been more than 6,900 deaths.

Outbreaks such as Ebola have an ability to spread fear around the world, often through the prism of sensationalist media reporting.

So how does Ebola actually compare to previo... Read More

TWiP 81 letters


Allan writes:


Dear Vincent & Dickson… and Daniel,


I always enjoy listening to TWIP here in Kona, Hawaii.


Our weather today is 79ºF and clear but we have just experienced a record 25-year overnight low of 54ºF,
(FREEZING, as few of us hav... Read More

Where does Ebola come from?

The hollow Cola tree growing in a remote area of southeastern Guinea was once home to thousands of bats routinely hunted and killed by the neighborhood children. It was also a popular spot to play. A year ago, one child in particular lived within fifty meters of the tree: a two-year-old boy who ... Read More

Harnessing bacteria to move microscopic gears and ratchets

Previous research has already demonstrated that substantial quantities of self-motile or active agents such as bacteria in a fluid environment can be harnessed to do mechanical work like moving microscopic gears and ratchets. Bacteria as well as algae can also be used to transport or displace ma... Read More

Lyme disease enhances spread of emerging tick infection

Mice that are already infected with the pathogen that causes Lyme disease appear to facilitate the spread of a lesser-known but emerging disease, babesiosis, into new areas.

Research led by the Yale School of Public Health and published Dec. 29 in the journal PLOS ONEused laboratory experimen... Read More
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