Microbe Magazine

May 2015

Cover Image
Cover ImageCover: Polarized light of micrograph of crystals of the antibiotic tetracycline. Researchers have found that tetracycline antibiotics change gene expression and alter mitochondrial functions across a wide range of animal an plant cell types (see p. 183). (Image © David Parker/Science Source.)
Microbe Magazine, Cover Image
Cover ImageCover: Polarized light of micrograph of crystals of the antibiotic tetracycline. Researchers have found that tetracycline antibiotics change gene expression and alter mitochondrial functions across a wide range of animal an plant cell types (see p. 183). (Image © David Parker/Science Source.)

  • Dispersal and the Microbiome
    Image of Author: Jennifer B. H. Martiny

    “Everything is everywhere—the environment selects,” said the late Dutch microbiologist and botanist Lourens Bass-Becking. Subsequently, other scientists interpreted his comments to mean that microorganisms, particularly free-living ones, are not dispersal limited. Small, abundant organisms are mo... More...

  • Microbes that Meddle with Metals
    Image of Author: Jennifer B. Glass

    Metals present a double-edged sword to microorganisms—they are essential micronutrients at low concentrations, but toxic above specific thresholds. Microorganisms depend on numerous metal cofactors to carry out diverse metabolisms, with those requirements in turn depending on the microbial specie... More...

  • Taking a Scientific Approach to Science Education, Part II—Changing Teaching
    Image of Authors: Carl Wieman, and Sarah Gilbert

    In Part I of “Taking a Scientific Approach to Science Education” (Microbe, April 2015, p. 152) we focused on the research on learning and teaching in undergraduate science. Our focus here is to address why these improved teaching methods are not the norm in college and university science c... More...


  • Many Challenges to Developing Ebola, Chikungunya Vaccines
    Image of Author: Jeffrey L. Fox

    The recent outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa and the expanding footprint of the chikungunya virus in the Americas are driving efforts to develop vaccines against these viruses. In both cases, however, there are striking challenges to overcome before any of several vaccine candidates become p... More...

  • Antibiotics Directly Damage Host Gut Epithelial Cells
    Author: David C. Holzman

    Antibiotics not only disrupt the host microbiome, they also can induce mitochondrial dysfunctions within host cells along the intestinal epithelia, according to Natalia Shulzhenko and Andrey Morgun of Oregon State University in Corvallis and their collaborators. Details appeared 22 January 2015 i... More...

  • Minitopics
  • Lipid Vesicles Protect Enterovirus Particles, Enhancing Infectivity
    Author: Carol Potera

    When it comes to launching an infection, a chorus of viruses can prove more effective than soloists, according to Nihal Altan-Bonnet at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., and her collaborators. Although virologists long assumed... More...

  • Deep-Mud Microbes Proffer Evidence of Evolutionary Stasis
    Author: Barry E. DiGregorio

    Comparisons of microbial communities yield evidence for evolutionary stasis—that is, the organisms not changing for billions of years while the niche they occupy remains unchanged, according to J. William Schopf at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his collaborators there and at seve... More...


  • Update on ASM Strategic Plan

    On 18 April, the ASM Futures Project Group presented their draft strategic plan to the Council Policy Committee (CPC) for approval. The core components of the strategic plan are the mission, the goals, and the objectives. The mission describes an organization's consistent identity that trans... More...

  • ASM Microbe 2016
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    The Meetings Board has been working diligently in the past few months to bring you ASM Microbe 2016 (16–20 June 2016, Boston, Mass.)—a brand-new meeting that integrates ASM's two most popular events—the General Meeting and ICAAC. Launching this meeting is an innovative solution to mee... More...

  • 2015 General Meeting Award Laureates
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    The Committee on Awards is pleased to announce part three of the 2015 General Meeting award laureates. Biographical sketches of the 2015 awardees appear below.

  • FEMS-ASM Mäkelä-Cassell Award
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    ASM is pleased to both announce, and congratulate, the 2015 FEMS-ASM Mäkelä-Cassell Award winner, Ember Morrissey, Ph.D. Morrissey will be presenting her latest, groundbreaking research at the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS) 6th Congress of European Microbiologists ... More...

  • ASM Public Affairs
  • Education Board
  • Obituary: Edward B. Goldberg
    Author: Fred Eiserling

    Edward B. Goldberg (Eddie) passed away on 5 February 2015. A most versatile microbiologist, Eddie made many important contributions to bacteriophage genetics, phage morphogenesis, and later in his career to the field of bioengineering of nanoparticles. He studied and worked as a postdoctoral rese... More...

  • Microbe Mentor
    Authors: Eleanor M. Jennings, Wade E. Bell, and Victor J. DiRita

    Welcome to the first installment of the Microbe Mentor! ASM members have expressed a significant interest in being able to gain career advice from microbiologists who have “been there and done that,” and the Membership Board has responded with a career-advice column to be regularly featured in More...


  • Organic Durum Wheat, Sourdough-Fermented Bread Called “Best”
    Image of Author: David C. Holzman

    “Sourdough bread made with organic durum wheat flour has better technological and nutritional features,” says Raffaella Di Cagno of the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy. “These characteristics are influenced not only by the quality of the materials used, but also by the dough fermentatio... More...

  • Probiotics Upregulate Genes for Carbohydrate Metabolism
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    Probiotics abide transiently in the gastrointestinal tract where, in addition to modulating diversity of commensal species, they boost expression of genes for carbohydrate metabolism among these bacteria. Now Alicia Lammerts van Bueren of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, et al. show ... More...

  • Probiotic Influences Gut Ecology
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    Investigators have shown that the probiotic bacterium GG (LGG) is beneficial against intestinal problems, respiratory infections, and some skin disorders, and some research suggests it might help with weight loss. Now Claire M. Fraser of the ... More...

  • Constraint-Based Modeling of Metabolic Interactions among Human Gut Bacteria
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    The notion of studying the metabolic interactions of the human gut ecosystem by in vivo or in vitro means is daunting. But now Ines Thiele of the University of Luxemburg et al. are applying constraint-based modeling, which is well established for predicting metabolic states, to interactions betwe... More...

  • Can Dogs Spread Human Norovirus?
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    Sarah Caddy of the University of Cambridge, et al. present evidence that dog-to-human transmission of human norovirus (HNV) may be possible. She showed that a fraction of 325 dogs she tested had antibodies to HNV, and that HNV capsids could bind to canine gut cells. Nonetheless, it is unclear whe... More...

  • Smoking Boosts MRSA Virulence
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    Nineteen percent of Americans still smoke. Now Laura E. Crotty Alexander of the University of California, San Diego et al. show that exposure to cigarette smoke boosts the ability of methicillin-resistant (MRSA) to resist a host's antimicr... More...

  • The Extracellular Matrix Synchronizes Bacterial Communities
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    For their resident bacteria, biofilms offer protection from environmental insults and assaults, and better attachment to hosts. For humans, they have both medical and industrial costs, but also benefits, in the root-associated biofilms that are essential for many commercial crops. The transition ... More...

  • Ibuprofen Reverses Azole Resistance to
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    is the most prevalent cause of fungemia worldwide. Its ability to develop resistance among patients under azole antifungal therapy is well documented. Sofia Costa de Oliveira of the University of Porto, Portugal, et al. show in a mur... More...


  • Animalcules, Their Discoverer, and His Biographer
    Image of Author: Bernard Dixon

    Fictionalized and dramatized portrayals of science tend to focus misleadingly on breakthroughs, positives, and eureka moments. In the real laboratory, however, negatives can be just as influential. I recall several occasions over the years when failures have spawned considerable success. One was ... More...

  • Reviews and Resources
    Author: Abraham Eisenstark
  • Application Deadlines

    ASM Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship. Senior-level graduate students are invited to apply for the 2015 ASM Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship. As part of its goal to increase the number of students from underrepresented minority groups who complete... More...

  • ASM Meetings Calendar

    8–11 May 2015.

  • Employment
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  • Small Things Considered
    Author: Elio

    The world of lipids does not always get its due. For example, have you heard of hopanoids? Some bacteria make these unusual polycyclic lipids that resemble steroids with an extra ring and carrying side chains characteristic of the species that makes them. Just like cholesterol in eukaryotic membr... More...

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