Microbe Magazine

May 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

  • Koch's Postulates — Then and Now
    Image of Author: D. Jay Grimes

    This story begins in the early 1880s. The germ theory of disease was fairly well established, although some experts continued to challenge it. For example, Theodor Billroth (1829–1894) of Vienna, often called the founding father of abdominal surgery, did not immediately accept the germ theory, bu... More...

  • Nitrifiers: More than 100 Years from Isolation to Genome Sequences
    Image of Authors: Daniel J. Arp, and Peter J. Bottomley

    About 8 × 1013 g of industrially produced nitrogen enter the biogeochemical cycle each year. Nitrification, denitrification, and nitrogen fixation are the major bacterially mediated processes moving inorganic nitrogen through this cycle (Fig. 1). During nitrification, reduced inorganic... More...

  • Outside Forces Helped Shape the Metagenome
    Image of Authors: L. Nesbø Camilla, W. Ford Doolittle, Emmanuel F. Mongodin, and Karen E. Nelson

    The genomes of bacteria are dynamic —subject to homologous recombination, gene duplication and loss, and lateral gene transfer (LGT). Given these dynamics, even closely related microorganisms with identical 16S rRNA sequences can prove to be extraordinarily diverse structurally and to contain lar... More...


  • In Race for Biodefense Countermeasures, Diagnostics Downplayed
    Author: Jeffrey L. Fox

    Despite heightened surveillance and intensified efforts to develop new therapies, vaccines, and other biodefense countermeasures, the development and deployment of better diagnostic and monitoring procedures continue to be among the weak links in the overall U.S. biodefense strategy, according to... More...

  • Gold-Phage “Nuggets” Seem Promising as Tissue Homing Devices
    Image of Author: David Holzman

    Particles containing metallic gold and genetically engineered filamentous M13-based phage particles appear promising as vehicles for imaging tissues that are affected by cancer, inflammation, or other defects, and have the potential to deliver drugs or stem cells to injured tissues with amazing s... More...

  • U.S., European Officials Approve Different Rotavirus Vaccines for Infants

    The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended in February that infants receive doses of a new vaccine (Microbe, March 2006, p. 110) that protects against rotavirus infections, which can cause severe gastrointestinal illnesses, at two, four, and six months of age.... More...

  • Rumen Protozoa Boost Virulence, Foster Gene Exchanges
    Author: Carol Potera

    When protozoa engulf, they typically also digest that ingested bacteria, except in the case of Salmonella. Remarkably, some strains of these bacteria become more virulent when consumed by protozoa that inhabit the rumen of cattle, according to researchers at the National Animal Disease Cen... More...

  • Deep-Sediment Archaebacteria Are Rich with Metabolic Oddities
    Image of Author: David Holzman

    Archaebacteria that inhabit deep-ocean sediments have life cycles that rival Methuselah's, ranging from 100 to 2,000 years. This languid lifestyle is a product of low nutrient concentrations and unusual metabolic pathways that are peculiar to this ecological niche, which is home for an estim... More...

  • Progress with Efforts To Control Ebola, Marburg Viruses
    Author: Jeffrey L. Fox

    With the Ebola and Marburg viruses apparently becoming more effective human pathogens, efforts to develop vaccines to protect against these viruses move with a greater sense of urgency. Vaccine developers describe progress on at least two fronts, while an antisense-based therapeutic also appears ... More...

  • Recent Noteworthy Developments on the Avian Influenza Front

    Public health experts continue to keep close watch over H5N1 avian influenza, which as of mid-March was responsible for causing 103 deaths among 184 human cases of disease, mainly in Asia and Eastern Europe. Other recent developments include:

  • Newly Computed “Tree of Life” Rearranges Several Microbial Branches

    A new computational approach, which focuses on 31 “universally occurring genes with indisputable orthology in 191 species with completely annotated genomes,” is being used to analyze relationships among those species. It leads to some interesting rearrangements in the microbial branches of the un... More...

  • Vancomycin Analog Shows Promise Pitted against Resistant Pathogens
    Author: Carol Potera

    Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis is considered one of the most dangerous pathogens because of its ability to withstand this antibiotic of “last resort.” However, a redesigned vancomycin analog could turn the tables on this pesky pathogen, effectively restoring sensitivity by mole... More...



  • Public Communications Award Recognizes Malaria Series
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    Four correspondents for Public Radio International's The World, a 1-hour radio program devoted to international news and culture, have been named recipients of the 2006 ASM Public Communications Award. Their four-part series, “The Forgotten Plague: Malaria,” examined malaria's gr... More...

  • ASM “Grant-in-Aid” Katrina Relief Fund

    In September 2005, the ASM leadership approved a donation of $35,000 to the American Red Cross in support of Hurricane Katrina operations. The donation was well received by the ASM membership. However, ASM members in the New Orleans area expressed concern that graduate students and postdoctoral f... More...

  • MicrobeWorld Radio Enhanced Podcasts
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    On Monday, 27 February, ASM launched its first enhanced podcast for a MicrobeWorld Radio episode on middle-school students in Alaska who are studying the antibiotic properties of plant extracts. Enhanced podcasts are audio files that include slideshow images, Web links, and “jump-to” chapter feat... More...

  • ASM Receives Grant to Support Postdoctoral Scientists and Faculty of Minority-Serving Institutions

    The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health has awarded ASM a grant to sponsor “the ASM General Meeting Minority Travel Grant Program.” The program will provide support for postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented minority (URM) groups... More...

  • ASM Corporate Activities Program
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    The Corporate Activities Program (CAP) is comprised of leaders in the scientific and pharmaceutical industries. They are ASM's most valued colleagues in the advancement of the Society's mission to support education and public information programs. CAP funds provide travel grants for stu... More...

  • American Academy of Microbiology
  • International Affairs
  • Membership
    Image of

    Lieutenant Colonel Roman G. Golash presented the Army Appreciation Certificate to George Dizikes of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on 19 January 2006. The certificate thanks Dizikes for his support of personnel who have been activated by the military since 9/11. Dizikes is the la... More...


  • New Info Raises Questions about Fungal Cell Wall as Antifungal Target
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    Cell walls act as an exoskeleton that protects the cell from harsh environments. The role of many cell-wall-associated proteins remains unknown. Now Cesar Roncero and colleagues of the University of Salamanca in Spain show how the RIM101 signaling pathway participates in yeast cell wall assembly.... More...

  • Protecting Probiotic Bacteria From the Ravages of the Stomach
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    One of the main challenges emerging in the use of probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, is keeping them alive for months or more in nonrefrigerated foods and pharmaceuticals. Many bacterial strains have been precluded from use because they do not survive processing, storag... More...

  • Tumor Suppressor Gene May Be Involved in DNA Repair

    Snf5 belongs to a new class of chromatin modifiers with tumor suppressor activity. Inactivation of Snf5 in young children leads to highly malignant rhabdoid tumors. Yet, paradoxically, when Agnes Klochendler-Yeivin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and coworkers inactivated the gene in murine... More...

  • New Insights into Resistance Mechanisms in
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    Rising resistance forced discontinuance of penicillin and tetracycline as first-line therapy against Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In previous work, Robert A. Nicholas and colleagues of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill identified penB mutations in the PIB porin from clinical i... More...

  • Fusion of Infectious Bronchitis Virus with Host Cell Activated by Low pH
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    For all enveloped viruses, a critical event during entry into cells is fusion of the viral envelope with the membrane of the host cell. Now Gary Whittaker and colleagues of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., have developed the first quantitative assay of virus-cell fusion for a coronavirus. “We sh... More...

  • New Research Could Lead to Prevention Strategies against Meningitis
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    The mortality and morbidity associated with neonatal gram-negative bacillary meningitis remain significant despite advances in antimicrobial chemotherapy and supportive care. Mortality ranges from 5–50%. Now Kwang Sik Kim and colleagues of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., use the tools... More...

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