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Microbiology, Cartoons, and Take Home Lessons!

In this blog post, I describe how I had students create their own cartoon depicting microbiological ideas and concepts that most tickled their fancy. I did this on their final exam, and the students came up with really interesting and entertaining ideas. IT's always interesting to see what stu... Read More

Zika from sex, the byway but not the highway

Can Zika virus be sexually transmitted? Perhaps in very rare cases, but the main mode of transmission is certainly via mosquitoes. That’s why I’ve shamelessly stolen a quote on this topic from Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University: Mosquito transmission is the highway, whereas sexual tr... Read More

MMP #13: Redetermining the ratio of microbial to human cells – correcting the widely held view that this ratio is 10 to 1

Host: Jeff Fox with special guests, Ron Milo and Shai Fuchs.


Ron Milo of Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and Shai Fuchs at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, talk with Jeff Fox about their efforts, with Ron Sender at Weizmann, to redetermine the ratio... Read More

Antibiotic stewardship - a community effort

As we highlighted in our previous blog, antibiotic stewardship – the careful use of appropriate antibiotic administration – can have positive effects. A small change from a difference in clinical lab reporting led to less drug use, which led to fewer drug-resistant infections. When we think of a... Read More

Zika Sharing

Of all the scientific results that my laboratory has produced over the years, I am most satisfied by those that maximally benefit the field. In this category falls the assay for determining the titer of Zika virus in plaque forming units per milliliter.

In ‘Counting Zika Virus’ I described o... Read More

The switch from trivalent to bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine: Will it lead to polio?

In four months, 155 countries will together switch from using trivalent to bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine. Will this change lead to more cases of poliomyelitis? Read More

Student Thoughts On The First Day of Microbiology Class

I teach Microbiology at the University of Puget Sound every fall semester. The swiftly changing field of microbiology has depth and breath...and I was interested to learn what my students thought of the topic at the beginning of the first day of class. We will revisit this subject at the end o... Read More

Enhanced virus transduction may lead to more effective gene therapy

A benefit of the voluminous wealth of research produced is that it allows us to stand on the shoulders of giants – we can take advantage of established facts, tools, and datasets. This may mean using a mutant library to find genes in your organism that are important for the process you study; ac... Read More

Ancient clay remedy proves its antibacterial powers in the lab

Near Kisameet Bay on the central coast of British Columbia sits a deposit of clay that covers 5 acres and spans a depth up to 42 feet in places. This vast smear formed 10,000 years ago as glacial melt filled a granite basin and fine minerals silted out.

The ancient clay likely holds secrets t... Read More

Microbial Identification and Tracking: the Next Generation

How do you identify an unknown microbe? If you’ve taken an introductory microbiology lab course in the past twenty years, chances are you were assigned an unknown bacterium that you had to identify through differential media and biochemical assays. Newer techniques like qPCR are being standardiz... Read More

The classic and current studies of bacterial endospore morphology

Recently, one of the Journal of Bacteriology Classic Spotlight series highlighted the numerous studies on bacterial spores that have been published in the journal throughout the years. Bacterial endospores, the resilient and relatively quiescent bacterial structures first identified in the 1800s... Read More

TWiP 113: Flying pigs

The TWiP ternion solve the case of the Man from Mexico, and discuss a transgenic toxoplasma vaccine for chickens using Eimeria tenella.


Hosts: Vincent Racaniello Read More

Systems study of climate change effects, large and small

If there is a problem built for a systems-based research approach, climate change – with its complex carbon and nitrogen cycles, numerous species involvement, and interaction of geographical zones – would be an excellent candidate. Concurrent with the launch of the systems-based microbial resear... Read More

Scientists prove key aspect of evolutionary theory

Evolutionary theory predicts that pairs of chromosomes within asexual organisms will evolve independently of each other and become increasingly different over time in a phenomenon called the 'Meselson effect.' Researchers from the University of Glasgow have demonstrated the Meselson effect for t... Read More

Targeting the gut microbiome to fight heart disease

Is the way to treat heart disease through a person's stomach? According to a new study, the answer is yes. Researchers have found that a compound found in red wine, resveratrol, reduces the risk of heart disease by changing the gut microbiome.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause ... Read More

Meta-analysis of urine pre-analytic practice reveals need for rigorous studies

Evidence-based medicine is the approach used by doctors to make rational clinical decisions based on rigorous, well-controlled studies. By minimizing hunches, gut feelings, and anecdotal evidence, physicians and patients can follow recommendations that are most likely to have a positive outcome.... Read More

Environmental disturbances decrease the variability of microbial populations

A central pursuit of microbial ecology is to accurately model changes in microbial community composition in response to environmental factors. This goal requires a thorough understanding of the drivers of variability in microbial populations. However, most microbial ecology studies focus on the ... Read More

Diversity and Activity of Communities Inhabiting Plastic Debris in the North Pacific Gyre

Marine plastic debris is a growing concern that has captured the general public’s attention. While the negative impacts of plastic debris on oceanic macrobiota, including mammals and birds, are well documented, little is known about its influence on smaller marine residents, including microbes t... Read More

MMP #15: A Scientific Roadmap for Antibiotic Discovery

Host: Jeff Fox with special guests, Carolyn Shore and Ruben Tommasi.


Carolyn Shore of Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C., and Ruben Tommasi of Entasis Therapeutics in Waltham, Massachusetts, talk with Jeff Fox about what’s needed to identify and develop new antimicrobial agents... Read More

And they're off! An overview of ASM resources on Olympic-related infectious disease reports

The opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics 2016 will be held this Friday, marking the onset of two weeks of competition between the world’s best athletes. The world has been focused on Brazil and its preparedness – not only for the infrastructure required for the games, but also for any potent... Read More
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