Microbe Magazine

January 2006

Cover Image
Cover ImageVaccines are crucial for controlling the spread of influenza, but currently are only effective against a limited mix of strains. A universal vaccine remains elusive, but progress is being made (see p. 433). (Image © James King-Holmes/ Science Source.)
Microbe Magazine, Cover Image

  • Assessing Risks to Human Health from Antibiotic Use in Food Animals
    Image of Author: H. Scott Hurd

    For many years, various experts and organizations have said that using antibiotics to raise food animals poses a significant public health risk. The hypothesized threat is the potential development of antibiotic resistance in foodborne bacteria, including pathogens that could infect humans, which... More...

  • Extreme Halophiles Are Models for Astrobiology
    Image of Author: Shiladitya DasSarma

    Studying extremophiles on Earth may provide helpful metrics in our search for life elsewhere in the universe. Species that thrive in hypersaline environments are among the most fascinating models for studying mechanisms of survival away from our planet. The genomic sequences of six such extreme h... More...

  • Beyond Binary Fission: Some Bacteria Reproduce by Alternative Means
    Image of Author: Esther Angert

    Many bacteria reproduce by binary fission, with each cell doubling in size, replicating and segregating its genetic material, and dividing to form two equivalent daughter cells. However, some bacteria follow alternative reproductive strategies, and researchers are steadily gaining insights about ... More...


  • Bacteria Joined with Ants in Symbiosis That Later Added Cultivated Fungi
    Image of Author: David Holzman

    Attine ants that cultivate fungi carry antibiotic-producing bacteria that suppress parasitic microfungi in those fungal gardens. Specialized structures for maintaining these bacteria apparently developed very early in the history of fungus gardening, at least 50 million years ago, according to Ca... More...

  • Novel Wound Dressing Could Protect Burn Victims against Pathogens
    Author: Brian Hoyle

    A wound dressing containing polyurethane and a hydrated polymer (hydrogel) controls the type of infections that often accompany serious skin burns, according to Lucie Martineau of Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), who presented her findings during the poster session, “Antibacterial ... More...

  • More to MRSA Virulence than Meets the Eye
    Author: Brian Hoyle

    Recent clinical isolates of methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) differ substantially from closely matched methicillin-resistant and methicillin-sensitive prototypes, according to Mireille Pruneau, Francois Malouin, and their collaborators at Université de Sherbrooke in Sherbr... More...

  • More on Influenza and Planning for a Pandemic

    Here are several noteworthy developments regarding the annual influenza epidemic and plans for dealing with a potential flu pandemic:

  • Race to New Antibiotics Is Slow, Fragmented
    Author: Jeffrey L. Fox

    The race for new antibiotics is a fragmented event, and researchers who persist in it tend to find themselves headed in disparate directions and moving at a less-than-blistering pace. Amid the frustrations, however, are discrete signs of forward progress toward promising new drug entities, accord... More...

  • Viral Envelope Protein Change Key to Cell Entry

    The F protein of parainfluenza virus, a member of the paramyxovirus family, resides in the viral envelope in a metastable state, ready to fuse with the outer membranes of target cells that this virus infects. Once contact is made, the F protein dramatically changes shape, releasing viral RNA into... More...

  • New Rotavirus Vaccines Appear Safe, Effective
    Author: Jeffrey L. Fox

    After a seven-year gap, vaccines to protect young children against rotavirus infections are—or soon will be— widely available again, according to Paul Offit of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Guillermo Ruiz-Palacios of Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Medicas y Nutricon Salvador Z... More...

  • Global Warming Tied to Fungal Outbreaks in Frogs

    The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is devastating harlequin frogs and other amphibian species throughout Central and South America, and these regional outbreaks and die-offs are striking evidence of global warming, according to J. Alan Pounds at the Monteverde Cloud Forest P... More...

  • DOE Expands Plans for Genomics, Systems Biology

    Officials in the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research and Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research last year issued an expanded and updated version of DOE Genomics: GTL Roadmap (http://doegenomestolife.org/). The 2005 report outlines a three-ph... More...

  • HIV Vaccine Design Is Based on Computed Consensus Sequences
    Author: Janet Yagoda Shagam

    Scientists are developing a new vaccine design strategy to overcome the challenges of HIV diversity. Their strategy entails identifying and making artificial antigens, based on analyzing sequence information contained in a large HIV-1 subtype databank, according to team members Bette Korber, an i... More...

  • Simple Mutations Can Both Broaden Viral Host Range and Intensify Virulence
    Author: David Holzman

    The same mutations that expand the host range of a particular retrovirus also enhance its capacity to kill the cells that it ordinarily infects—altogether, not such a good strategy for spreading itself, according to John M. Coffin of Tufts University Medical School in Boston, Mass., and G. Jonah ... More...



  • 2006–2007 Election Results
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  • New ASM Video Podcast Explores the Microbial World
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    On Tuesday, 31 January, ASM launched a series of 15-to 25-minute video podcasts of the PBS television series Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth. The weekly video podcast explores the microbial world and how life has evolved over Earth’s 3.8-billion-year history. Intimate Strangers... More...

  • MicrobeLibrary—New Features, New Collection, and New Services from 2005

    Take time to visit the ASM Microbe-Library (www.MicrobeLibrary.org) featuring 1,400 peer-reviewed resources for teaching undergraduate microbiology. In 2005, the site underwent major changes, introducing new products and services and a graphically friendly portal page. All of the changes are the ... More...

  • Book Browsing and Buying Made Easier

    Searching for and buying a book from ASM Press online continues to get easier as new options from a number of online retailers become available.

  • ASM Tsunami Relief Fund Grants Financial Aid to WHO Program in Aceh

    On 26 December 2004, after learning about the tsunami catastrophe in Asia, ASM officers immediately approved an initial donation of $30,000 and launched the ASM Tsunami Relief/ Recovery Fund. ASM then partnered with the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), a close partner of the ... More...

  • ASM in China: Broadening Perspectives
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    On 7–10 November 2005, ASM held a minicourse entitled “Genetics, Genomics, Virulence, and Diagnostics in Salmonella” in southern China. The course was taught at the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Center for Disease Prevention and Control in the city of Nanning. China has a profound inter... More...

  • Underrepresented Members Committee Retreat

    On 2–3 December 2005, the Underrepresented Members Committee (UMC) held a retreat at ASM Headquarters. The mission of the committee is to promote full and complete participation of all of ASM’s diverse membership at all levels of the Society, with a special focus on racial and ethnic minority mem... More...

  • 2006 General Meeting Award Laureates
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    The Committee on Awards is pleased to present part two of a three-part series on the 2006 General Meeting awardees.

  • 2006 Morrison Rogosa Awardees
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    The Morrison Rogosa Award recognizes the outstanding research accomplishment and potential of women scientists in former Eastern bloc countries. The Award is given in honor of Dr. Morrison Rogosa for contributions to bacteriology and to ASM. For more information about the Morrison Rogosa Award, v... More...

  • ASM Report
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  • Antibiotic Resistance versus Antibiotic Evasion
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    It has been common knowledge that vancomycin, which recently became the mainstay of antibacterial chemotherapy, is a powerful inhibitor of bacterial cell wall synthesis. But now Krzysztof Sieradzki and Alexander Tomasz of the Rockefeller University, New York, N.Y., show that vancomycin molecules ... More...

  • Vancomycin-Intermediate MRSA Resists by Thickening Cell Wall
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    Vancomycin has been a treatment of last resort for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). But vancomycin-intermediate MRSA (VISA) is becoming prevalent worldwide, causing great concern (see above). Now Longzhu Cui of Juntendo University, Tokyo, and collaborators show that VISA... More...

  • New NO regulator in
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    Nitric oxide (NO) is a by-product of normal metabolic processes in some bacteria, and part of the arsenal of toxic compounds mammalian cells use to kill invading pathogens. In self-defense, Escherichia coli synthesizes several enzymes that detoxify it. In some cases, these enzymes are made... More...

  • In Cancer Pathways, Early Mutations Influence Later Ones
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    Retinoblastoma protein (Rb) was the first cloned tumor suppressor gene. The Rb protein is a key component that regulates cell cycle entry and progression in mammalian cells. In a review article, James DeGregori of the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center describes how recen... More...

  • Big Fraction of Genome Enables Intracellular Growth
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    Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive, foodborne pathogen responsible for severe infections with a high overall mortality. The facultative intracellular bacterium induces its uptake into the host cell and subsequently enters the host cell cytosol by breaching the vacuola... More...

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