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Microbe of the month: Nanopusillus acidilobi, an archaeon found in Yellowstone National Park

"Life has evolved to thrive in environments that are extreme only by our limited human standards: in the boiling battery acid of Yellowstone hot springs, in the cracks of permanent ice sheets, in the cooling waters of nuclear reactors, miles beneath the Earth's crust, in pure salt crystals, and inside the rocks of the dry valleys of Antarctica." -Jill Tarter, astronomer

Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is well known for its geothermal features and diverse ecosystems. With features such as hot spring, geysers, canyons and forests, it's no wonder that the biodiversity (microbial and not) at YNP is enormous. (more…)

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Scared of subway germs? Fear not, for they are harmless

"You can either embrace the dirt and the germs as part of the risky joy of living in an exciting, overpopulated metropolis, or you can spend lots of mental real estate obsessing over whether you touched a few extra microbes when you got on the subway.” - Zack Love

I have to admit that I am somewhat of a germaphobe. When I first moved to Boston and spent over two hours a day on the subway (called the T) to get to and from lab, I feared I would get sick all the time from touching things or sitting next to someone coughing up a lung. But was my fear of the T warranted? (more…)

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Our early life microbiome may be more resilient than once believed

"We are inhabited by as many as ten thousand bacterial species... Together, they are referred to as our microbiome -- and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists like Blaser have begun to reconsider what it means to be human.” ― Michael Specter

A couple weeks ago, I attended the Boston Bacterial Meeting where Martin Blaser gave the keynote address. Dr. Blaser, a physician and a microbiologist, studies the complex and often puzzling interactions between our bodies and our microbiome (the collection of microbes living on or in our bodies). (more…)

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Yeast on the Rise

Hooray, it's finally (Foodie) Friday!

Since the last Foodie Friday post on sourdough microbes a couple weeks ago, I have been thinking about making my own bread again.

Because I am not taking care of a sourdough starter currently, I made a loaf of bread using Baker's yeast, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. S. cerevisiae is commonly used as a fermentation agent in bread making and the production of carbon dioxide gas during metabolism by yeast contribute to the leavening and flavor and texture of bread. (more…)

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Plasmid mediated colistin resistance found in the U.S.

"When antibiotics first came out, nobody could have imagined we’d have the resistance problem we face today. We didn’t give bacteria credit for being able to change and adapt so fast." -Bonnie Bassler

Antibiotic resistant superbugs have dominated health-related news recently, warning of an impending post-antibiotic apocalypse where current antibiotics are no longer effective. Though it is true that antimicrobial resistance is increasing quickly and the effectiveness of many antibiotics is dwindling, much of what has been reported recently about a colistin resistant bacteria isolated in the U.S. may not be completely true. (more…)