DA BOM: Best of Microbiology In The News August 2020 Part I
Updated: 3 days ago
Once a month Microbigals will bring you our favorite microbiology news, from scientific papers to fellow bloggers, to news articles in 5 categories: Extremophiles, Medical, Environmental and Marine, Food and Agriculture, and Microbial Products. So you can stay up to date with the world of microbe news. Here is the best microbiology news for August 2020. See part II for more August microbe news.
Extremophiles & Space ‘Crobes
Dr. Michael Daly believes by using knowledge from extremophiles we can make vaccines (including ones for COVID-19) faster, cheaper and safer
Extremophiles can live in such harsh conditions due to protecting their DNA repair enzymes, not the DNA itself.
Extremophile, D. radiodurans, uses manganese to create these antioxidant enzymes that protect the cell’s repair proteins, which in turn can repair damage to the cell’s DNA or RNA.
2. SnapShot: Microbial Extremophiles - Amy K. Schmid et. al.
Really beautiful graphic depicted where extremophiles are founds, how they survive, the extremist of the extremophiles, and their different categories of extremophiles.
6 main types of extremophiles - psychrophiles (<15c), thermophiles (>60c), acidophiles (pH<3), Alkaliphiles (pH>9), Halophiles (high salt), Xerophiles (dry, dessert)
Bacteria, Geothermobacterium and Archaea, Methanopyrus can survive at temperatures higher than 100c, higher than boiling!
3. Alien Microorganism Research Shows Humans and Other Mammals Could Struggle to Fight Space Germs-UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
our immune system reacts to microbes through interaction with their proteins
Proteins are made of molecules called amino acids that come together to form peptides which, in turn, can come together to form proteins
Once the immune system interacts with these proteins it is “activated” and an immune response occurs
A team tested peptides that were made of amino acids that are uncommon on earth and have been found on asteroids against immune cells and in mice
The thought was that microbes on other planets could have protein made up of these amino acids
Results showed that immune activation was much lower compared to common peptides showing that, if exposed to space microbes, our body may not be able to see it and, in return, protect us from the infection
Fun Fact: It is possible that there is Astro-microbial life in our solar system as one of the building blocks of life, water, has been found in other places like Saturn's moon Titan
Pathogen Profiles & Medical Microbiology In The News
1. Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcats Part 1: Reboot The Gut, Eat Cheesecake, Without Gaining Weight, Amplify Any Fasting Protocol & Maximize Fat Loss - Ben Greenfield and Joel Greene
Synopsis: Joel discusses his book the “immunity code” and his VEEP Nutrition System, which focuses on optimizing your gut microbiome through biomarkers.
Key Point: Apple Skins have something called pectin. This pectin combined with phenol will not absorb. Thie closes up tight junctions within your intestines and helps regulate LPS. So Apple skins are great for your gut health.
Fun facts: The gut microbiome is important for immunity. How did immunity start in the gut? From Mother’s Milk. Mother’s milk has HMOs (Human milk oligosaccharides) which you can take as a supplement. HMOs help steers immunity within the gut.
Bottom line: HMOs + Apple skins + red phenol increase Akkermansia and Bifidobacteria great good healthy microbes!
Key Point: 3 genomes run your body. Your Human Genome, your Microbiome.
Synopsis: mRNA-1273 is an investigational vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. Preliminary results from a phase I human trials seem promising with phase 2 recruitment already underway and phase 3 launching in July 2020.
How it works: The vaccine is designed to produce antibodies that will attack the “spike” protein of the coronavirus. The protein binds to a human cell.
Why Be Weary: This is just the initial findings of only 45 participants ages 18-55. The sample size is small and long-term immunity can not be assessed at this time. It’s promising….but not a solution yet.
Summary: Polio eradication campaigns came to an abrupt halt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many campaigns have now resumed but fear of massive outbreaks could push back decades of work and cause hundreds their lives.
Key Point: Polio cases have been on the rise for the last couple of years with 176 cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2019 compared to 33 cases in 2018. Already this year, these two countries have reported 87 wild polio cases, but it’s thought to be higher.
In addition, Pakistan and Afghanistan also face vaccine-derived poliovirus. This happens when the weakened virus in the oral polio vaccine mutates and regains its virulence and can cause paralysis.
Hot spots include: Ivory Coast and parts of Chad, Mali, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Pakistan, and Afghanistan/
Food & Agriculture Microbiology
1. Agriculture’s extremely tiny saviors - Kat McGowan
Summary: Microbes have the capability to enhance the agro-industry. They can increase crop yield, protect from disease and allow them to grow in changing climates. This all means more food for you and me!
Key Point: Indigo Ag. now sells cotton seeds coated with microbes to better tolerate drought with more on the way. Pivot Bios product Proven was released last year uses microbes that can fix nitrogen into a form that plants can use and boasts to be able to provide 25lbs of nitrogen per acre.
Fun Fact: Star trek predicted the use of bacteria for pathogen treatment on plants over 25 years ago in the next generation's finale. Go to this link and start at 3:15….very subtle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrBu-N6qjZ0
Summary: Evaluated 13 Bacillus strains for their various growth stimulation effects on potato and corn. All stimulated growth having the potential to promote crop yield!
Why should we use microbes over other agrochemicals? 1.) They are biodegradable and natural 2.) They produce at the site and can reproduce one their one in the right environment 3.) They interact with the plant, often enhancing the immune system.
The authors used a MALDI-TOF to help profile the biosynthetic potential of these microbes. MALDI-TOF stands for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight analyzer which is basically translates to vaporizing microbes with lasers to understand what products the microbes are making
3. Human milk oligosaccharides, a success story- Bettina Gutiérrez
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are sugars found naturally in breast milk that aid in the development of the immune system, support neurological development, help prevent infections and promote a healthy gut microbiome.
Jennewein Biotechnologies is a company that develops one of these chemicals for a formula using the bacteria E. coli.
There are about 200 chemicals that make HMOs and the company has developed a new product that incorporates the top five most abundant in hopes to provide a larger benefit than the one currently on the market.
The product just finished the clinical phase and Jennewein Biotechnologie hopes to launch sometime in the fall.
Environmental & Marine Microbiology
1. Let Smell Guide You - Roberto
Science Synopsis: Actinomycetes create geosmin, the smell of the earth, to attract arthropods, specifically springtails. When they sporulate (reproduce) their spores can attach to the springtails and hitch a ride to a new location, allowing them to travel greater distances.
In Simpler Terms: Microbes have the ability to hail a taxi to get them to new and exciting places by produces an enticing smell, we know as “earthy”
Fun Fact/ Quote: Camels are also seduced by this microbial perfume. And Humans seem attracted to it as well.
2. What is the Microbiome - Justine Dees
Synopsis: Justine Dees, as always, has provided another great article about the microbiome. She discusses what the microbiome is, why it's important and the importance of microbial diversity.
Key Point: Studying microbiomes has improved our life. The more we know about what is there the more we know what they are doing. Then we can get better at managing the microbial “skills” in an environment.
Quote: “Studying microbiomes matters because, when we understand them, we can devise strategies to harness the power of microbes to improve our lives and the environment.”
Synopsis: Sarah reveals another superpower of microbes: magnetism. These microbes can actually swim towards the earth’s magnetic field lines.
Key Point: Some microbes produce magnetosomes, made of iron, which allows some bacteria to swim with magnetic fields
Fun Fact: Some protists will cover themselves in magnetotactic bacteria (like Bane and the Obsoliks) making one magnetic swimming organism feeding off each other.
Biotech & Microbial Products
1. Scientists stumbled across the first known manganese-fueled bacteria - Carolyn Beans
Summary: Another story of luck and neglect for a major discovery in microbiology. Researchers left a jar of manganese carbonate in the sink to soak for 10 weeks. Bacteria grew using the manganese as a fuel source and changed it to manganese oxide
The two species they identified as metal-eating are: Candidatus Manganitrophus noduliformans’ and Ramlibacter lithotrophicus
Potential Use: Manganese oxide is a water pollutant, we might be able to use the bacteria as a biomarker to control the production.
But where else, besides his sink do they exist?
2. Bacterial Volatile Compounds: Functions in Communication, Cooperation, and Competition - Tina Netzker et al.
Microbes produce tiny odorous molecules known as volatile compounds that not only have the capability as antimicrobial artillery but also long-range communications, neighbor behavior manipulation, and moderate commensal relationships.
These molecules are so small, they can be spread by water, soil, and even air. Many other secondary metabolites are too big to be spread in this way. This means they are versatile and long-range “missiles” for a number of different missions.
Mosquitoes suck! Quite literally. But they also carry deadly diseases like malaria. Mosquitoes are attracted to you, not because of your blood but the volatile compounds your skin microbes release. By understanding what volatile compounds attract or repel mosquitoes we can come up with new mosquito sprays.
3. Bacteria: The miracle microbes that could fix planet - Colin Barras
Summary: Microbes have tremendous potential to benefit human health, renewable energy, water contamination, food, climate change, pollution, antibiotics, and the plastic problem. Learn more here.
PET plastic is a human product only invented about 80 years ago. And yet microbes have already evolved to “eat” this waste-producing ethylene glycol which can be used to make new plastic. Microbes are the best chemists...If only they can do it faster!
Solar Foods, a start-up, uses solar panel energy to break down water molecules into hydrogen gas, which they then feed to bacteria. The bacteria take the hydrogen gas and atmospheric CO2 and create proteins for human consumption. It’s a protein brewery!