The wacky world of horizontal gene transfer, genomic variants, and what we think are microbial species

“The main difference from eukaryotes is that prokaryotic reproduction is independent of DNA acquisition and recombination. Instead, DNA is obtained from fragmented chromosomes obtained via parasexual means (that is, without reproduction). These mechanisms of DNA exchange are not restricted to gene exchange within species, and therefore traits can and do come from highly divergent organisms. […]

Genome Sequence of E. coli O104:H4 Leads to Rapid Development of a Targeted Antimicrobial Agent against This Emerging Pathogen – PLoS ONE

“A recent widespread outbreak of Escherichia coli O104:H4 in Germany demonstrates the dynamic nature of emerging and re-emerging food-borne pathogens, particularly STECs and related pathogenic E. coli. Rapid genome sequencing and public availability of these data from the German outbreak strain allowed us to identify an O-antigen-specific bacteriophage tail spike protein encoded in the genome. […]

Patterns of Gene Flow Define Species of Thermophilic Archaea: PLoS Biology

“Patterns of homologous gene flow among genomes of 12 strains from a single hot spring in Kamchatka, Russia, demonstrate higher levels of gene flow within than between two persistent, coexisting groups, demonstrating that these microorganisms fit the biological species concept. Furthermore, rates of gene flow between two species are decreasing over time in a manner […]

The Visionary

“Seeking to spur drug development, Stephen Friend has launched a daring series of initiatives to make biomedical research more open and effective.” Interesting fellow. He’s a mover and shaker in the bioinformatics “data must be free” crowd. It’s a very good article. Read it. Read this article…

Hacking yogurt

As a card carrying practical microbiologist, I like making yogurt – cheap and easy to make and very good for your tummy (see here for more on yogurt and a recipe you can use). But I admit I’m not too adventurous: the most I do is try different cultures, flavors, or milks (latest was goat […]

Incorporating microorganisms into polymer layers provides bioinspired functional living materials

“Artificial two-dimensional biological habitats were prepared from porous polymer layers and inoculated with the fungus Penicillium roqueforti to provide a living material. Such composites of classical industrial ingredients and living microorganisms can provide a novel form of functional or smart materials with capability for evolutionary adaptation. We demonstrated a design of such living materials and […]

University of Massachusetts Amherst creates 12,000 square foot food garden — City Farmer News

“The story of a group of University of Massachusetts students who set out to initiate the construction of the school’s first permaculture garden a year ago is a remarkable one, but it’s only the beginning of a worldwide movement.” This is really interesting. Small-scale farming was killed by industrial farming to feed huge masses. But […]

Fortify your poop – Transfaunation

As you know, I’m always looking for practical uses of microbes. One that I stumbled upon a long while back was “transfaunation”, or, seeding one person’s gut with microbes from another’s. Yes, transfering poop microbes from one to another. Be an adult. Don’t get grossed out. I’ve read some great papers on the process how […]

Domestic-use in-vessel composters – really cool

I stumbled upon domestic-use in-vessel composters (on a lead from @harvestpower, of course). I had heard of in-vessel composting, but never realized that at least two companies created machines that you plug in, feed with your organic waste (with addition of saw dust), and out comes compost. As far as I can tell, the process […]

A massive comfort : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

“Widely described as the point of no return, the event horizon of SgrA* would be the largest in our skies, but still just 30 microarcseconds across — the apparent size of a tennis ball on the Moon when viewed from Earth. To capture its image would be a stunning technical achievement in itself, but it […]