microbiome

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Meet a Microbiologist: Amanda Gunn

Microbiologist Amanda Gunn takes on something unusual for a microbiologist; she started a fish research and community lab. When Amanda came to Grays Harbor College as a faculty member, she wanted a way to fit her work into the needs and culture of the community. “Everybody here hunts or fishes, and it seemed like a good way to get the community interested in science,” Amanda says. Thus, Fish Lab began.

Fish Lab is a volunteer-based program intended to both restore and monitor the waterways in the area and to get the community involved. Amanda holds volunteer Fish Lab hours twice a week where students and community members can participate in water quality analysis, trail work, dissections, and more. (more…)

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Think again before you compost that

Spring has arrived, gardens are planted, and now, we eagerly await the harvest of fruits and vegetables. This spring awakening brings not only new plant life, but fungi also come out to feast. Phytophthora root rot is a common fungal disease in plants, infecting over 250 plant genera including peppers, tomatoes, berries, and eggplants. At least a hundred species of fungi are responsible for phytophthora root rot. Chemical efforts to treat phytophthora root rot have been ineffective to control disease and have mostly been banned. So what is a gardener or farmer to do? (more…)

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A year of microbes

Of course there are way too many microbiology stories than I can blog about. Here are some other fascinating finds throughout the year:

A bacteria that eats plastic: Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is a component of many plastic products that have accumulated in large quantities in the environment. Researchers have isolated a bacterium that uses PET as its main energy and carbon source. This bacterium can be further developed to efficiently degrade or ferment PET waste products. (more…)

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The buzz about the honey bee microbiome

Imagine you are at a picnic on a nice sunny day. Several bees stop by buzzing around your food particularly intrigued by a bowl of fruit. Though bees may be a nuisance on this particular day, they serve an essential role in the production of much of the food we eat. They produce honey, beeswax and other products we enjoy. Bees are also crucial in pollination and without honey bees, we may not be able to enjoy fruits, nuts, and vegetables that we do today.

In the past decades, the honey bee population have declined rapidly. Between April 2015 and March 2016, beekeepers lost 44.1% of their colonies. This decline in the honey bee population could be due to many reasons including pesticides, parasites, and disease. More curiously, many colonies have fallen to colony collapse disorder (CCD), where adult worker bees die-off and surprisingly, no dead bees are found in or around the hives. The exact cause of CCD is not completely known thought many have attributed pesticides, pathogens, antibiotics, and climate change as the cause. (more…)

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Multitudes of life in Ed Yong's I Contain Multitudes

"Remember that animals emerged in a world that had already been teeming with microbes for billions of years. They were the rulers of the planet long before we arrived." -Ed Yong

Last week, I was able to attend Ed Yong's book talk at MIT. At his talk, Yong took us on a journey through his recently published book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. In this microbial tour de force, Yong describes the diverse ways microbes interact with plants, animals, humans, and basically anything on this earth. Microbes are ubiquitous and Yong explores the ways microbes may shape our global ecosystem and vice versa. (more…)