sequencing

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Happy Birthday Robert Koch!

On this date in 1843, Robert Koch, the founder of modern microbiology was born.  And on December 10, 1905, one day before his 62nd birthday, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on tuberculosis.

But what many microbiologists are more familiar with are the Koch’s postulates, four criteria needed to establish a causal relationship between microbe and disease. These are:

  • The microorganism must be found in individuals suffering from the disease, but in not healthy individuals,
  • The microorganism must be isolated from a diseased individual and grown in pure culture,
  • The cultured microbe should cause disease when introduced into a healthy individual, and
  • The microbe must be isolated from the inoculated individual and identified as the same microbe from the original source.

Now, more than a century after Koch’s time, how do these postulates hold up? (more…)

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Microbes Fly Overhead in This Year’s Solar Eclipse

When the sun vanishes behind the moon, living organisms behave as if twilight is here. Crickets start to chirp, flowers close up, and cows head to the barn.  In this year’s highly anticipated solar eclipse, microbes will also fly high in the sky on giant balloons as part of a citizen science project called the Eclipse Ballooning Project.

The Eclipse Ballooning Project harnesses the scientific curiosities of 55 teams across universities, high schools, and ballooning groups. These citizen scientists will capture footage along the path of totality across the Unites States. This will be the first time videos and images of a total eclipse will be documented live from near space. (more…)

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How microbes flavor kefir

We can thank microbes for the tangy flavor and the effervescent creamy texture of kefir. This fermented milk product relies on dozens of bacteria and yeasts to convert the lactose and other compounds found in milk to small molecules that contribute to the taste and texture of kefir. As we know get to know more about the microbiology of food, food scientists may be able to streamline production, improve health benefits, and customize the flavors of fermented foods.

So what are these helpful microbes and how do they contribute to the fermentation of kefir? (more…)