DA BOM : Best of Microbiology In The News August 2020 Part II
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
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 microbiology in the news. Here is the best of microbiology news for August 2020.
Extremophiles & Space ‘Crobes
1. UK at the forefront of space exploration with biomining experiment - UK Space Agency
In October an experiment will be launched to the ISS to look at how microbes act in microgravity
They will be looking at how these microbes are grown on asteroid material and how they break it down, a possible venture for mining asteroids
This will be done in a specialized bioreactor, a piece of equipment that allows for the growth and experimentation of microbes, called Bioasteriod
This is all part of the Bioreactor Exploration Programme, which allows “anybody who wishes to carry out research or manufacture on the ISS the opportunity to do so.”
2. TEMPURA: Database of Growth TEMPeratures of Usual and RAre Prokaryotes - Sato, Kimura and Honda 2020
TEMPURA is a database for extremophiles, aiding researchers in their endeavors to grow, isolate and use products from extremophiles
TEMPURA includes the minimum, optimum, and maximum growth temperatures of more than 8,000 prokaryotes (a.k.a organisms with cells without a nucleus, mostly bacteria, and archaea)
Archaea are the biggest portion of extremophiles. Some species are able to survive temperatures above boiling and well below freezing temperatures.
3. Investigating the biological potential of galactic cosmic ray‑induced radiation‑driven chemical disequilibrium in the Martian subsurface environment - Dimitra Atri
Although there is no evidence of life on Mars, there is evidence that water may have been present on ancient mars, and with water, there could have been life
Dimitra believes our own extremophiles on earth provide the evidence that Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR)- induced radiation-driven chemical disequilibrium can be enough to support life. Bridging chemistry and biology.
Chemoautotrophs are organisms that take chemicals in the air and produce energy. Think of photosynthesis, plants take a photon from the sun to produce their energy. Similarly, on Mars, this could be done with the Galactic Cosmic Rays induced radiation.
The Rosalind Franklin Rover is scheduled to be launched in summer 2022 and would be the first rover to explore subsurface mars soil (up to 2m down) as part of the ExoMars mission. And thus may provide us with new insights as to the possibility of life on another planet whether present or past. But will the rover have the capabilities to detect such life markers?
Pathogen Profiles & Medical Microbiology In The News
1. ‘The biggest monster’ is spreading. And it’s not the coronavirus - Apoorva Mandavilli
As more and more resources are being consumed for the coronavirus pandemic, other deadly diseases, like tuberculosis, are on the rise.
Tuberculosis claims the lives of 1.5 million people every year.
Some models estimate the 3-month lockdown and gradual return to normalcy could result in up to 1.4 million new deaths from tuberculosis with 6.3 million additional cases.
2. Designer antibodies could battle COVID-19 before vaccines arrive - Jon Cohen
“If you were going to put your money down, you would bet that you get the answer with the monoclonal before you get the answer with a vaccine,” says Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Specific antibodies will likely be more effective than repurposed drugs that are being used now. This could protect high-risk patients and reduce the risk of our health care workers.
Scripps researcher, Dennis Burton, has developed highly potent monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 that will be moving into human trials soon. He believes these antibodies can protect someone for months.
3. Ridiculous "Remedies" of the Spanish Flu: The Rise of the Lemon- Ridiculous history on iHeart Radio
Lemons were being marketed vaguely as healthy food to put into things such as tea to boost their sales before the Spanish flu broke out.
When the flu broke out, false reports came out stating that it could cure the flu or be prophylactic by “sucking on a lemon”
This drove popularity and caused pierce gauging causing the local government to step in. Unfortunately, this was no cure but it is a big reason why Lemons are so popular today.
Food & Agriculture Microbiology News
1. Researchers discover how plants distinguish beneficial from harmful microbes - Lisbeth Heilesen, Aarhus University
Scientists have now discovered how legumes use small well-defined motifs in receptor proteins to read molecular signals to tell the difference between pathogenic and symbiotic microbes.
The first milestone for engineering symbiotic nitrogen-fixing symbiosis into cereal crops.
The eventual goal will be to transfer the unique ability of legume plants to cereal plans to limit the need for polluting commercial nitrogen fertilizers.
2. Plastic pollution in our oceans could spread fatal diseases into the food chain through farmed seafoods such as mussels and oysters, study warns- Jonathan Chadwick
Over the past years, we have seen an increase in the number of microplastics appearing in all facets of our lives including our food.
Scientist show that bacteria form larger biofilms, colonies of microbes that can act in protecting bacteria or allowing pathogenic bacteria to potentially become more infectious
This may mean more pathogenic microbes may be picked up by oysters and muscles, increasing the risk of infection once consumed and illustrating the need to reduce the number of micro-plastics being dumped in the environment
3. Microbe study provides new insights into cheesemaking- Feedstuffs.com
A study was conducted where 184 samples of cheese from around the world had the DNA found in the cheese sequenced.
The study showed what microbes were in the cheese, how these microbes link to desirable or undesirable flavors, and what antimicrobials these microbes produce to preserve the cheese.
The hope is this research will help the cheese industry to better use microbes for better flavor and higher quality cheese and make these cheeses more available to a wider market
Environmental & Marine Microbiology
1. Planet Microbe: a platform for marine microbiology to discover and analyze interconnected ‘omics and environmental data - Ponsero et al. 2020
Perhaps the newest free online database for microbial research, Planet Microbe aims at providing a well-curated publicly available marine microbiology database connected sequencing data, geography, geochemical dataset, and physical parameters.
There hope is to increase collaboration among oceanography and geoscientists and in turn promote novel discoveries in marine sciences
This is the first release of this marine ‘omics database. Moving forward they hope to continue to provide frictionless integration of marine ‘omic data into one standardized database. They also hope to provide new tools to users as they continue to update the database.
2. This Moss Uses Quartz as a Parasol - Sabrina Imbler
Mini oases exist for moss in hostile desert habitats under the milky crystal of quartz pebbles, enabling them to thrive!
Astrobiologists have long studied arctic and Antarctic cyanobacteria that grow under translucent rocks to trap moisture, but no one has yet studied moss doing the same.
Ms. Ekwealor, who has presented the new research at several conferences hopes that people will start flipping rocks to see what else is out there, but then put them gently back down so the moss can survive.
Biotech & Microbial Products
1. Nanotechnology-based disinfectants and sensors for SARS-CoV-2 - Talebian et al. 2020
A great little review on current nanotechnologies that aim to either disinfect surfaces, stopping the spread of the virus and to detect the virus
Nanotechnologies are powerful, usually inexpensive, and have fewer regulations than vaccines, meaning they will be available to the public faster than the development of a vaccine.
One promising avenue is paper-based colorimetric sensors. This has been used successfully in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and HPV. This would allow for quick and easy detection of the virus.
2. FDA Approves New Opioid for Intravenous Use in Hospitals, Other Controlled Clinical Settings - BioSpace Staff
Newly approved by the FDA, Olinvyk (oliceridine), an opioid agonist is an intravenous opioid for the management of moderate to severe pain.
Like other opioids, common side effects are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, and constipation.
Carries a boxed warning about addiction, abuse and misuse, life-threatening respiratory depression, and other issues so the FDA is only allowing it under medical supervision and not for a take-home prescription.
3. Landmark paper calls for need to develop the world's microbiome biobanking infrastructure- Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International
Summary: A growing need has arisen to develop and standardize biobanks around the world that house microbiome samples
Biobanks are used to store samples that are constant in sample composition used for research both academically and in the biotech industry, such as being able to accurately receive the correct bacterial species every time.
Current preservation methods exclude microbes from microbiome samples causing a change in the natural balance in the samples; this, and other preservation practices, call for newer preservation methods to be developed and standardized among other biobanks resulting in a higher quality product.
4. Women in Bio: Rebecca Vaught Launches Van Heron Labs- Alex Keown
Rebecca Vaught Started her company, Van Heron Labs , in Huston of February of this year
This company uses a novel genetic analysis pipeline in hopes to create a metabolic profile for the organism to understand what the microbe needs in the hope to maximize its output of product.
A collaboration with Foresight Biosciences has already seen positive results within the first 6 months of opening their doors.
What's your favorite article from this month's Microbiology In The News?
Tell us in a comment below!