Microbe Magazine

October 2007

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

  • Fresh Views of 17th-Century Discoveries by Hooke and van Leeuwenhoek
    Image of Author: Howard Gest

    Robert Hooke and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek are credited with discovering the microbial world during the 17th century. However, some of the details about their contributions are garbled, leading to an unintended mythology. According to microbiologist Milton Wainwright of Sheffield University in Sheff... More...

  • Glycomics Aims To Interpret the Third Molecular Language of Cells
    Image of Authors: Alison A. Weiss, and Suri S. Iyer

    Deciphering the chemical codes used by cells provides valuable insights, many of which will help toward ameliorating diseases. In contrast to impressive progress decoding genomics and proteomics, efforts to crack the code for the third major class of biopolymers, carbohydrates, continue to prove ... More...


  • Whole Genome Transplantation Becomes A Reality
    Image of Author: Marcia Stone

    Microbiologists at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Md., transferred the genome from one bacterium to another, “resulting in new cells with both the genotype and phenotype of the input genetic material,” says Carole Lartigue, lead scientist on the project. “The recipient genome ... More...

  • Helicase Mutants Greatly Boost West Nile Virus Levels in Crows

    A mutation in the West Nile virus (WNV) gene encoding helicase seems to account for major changes in virulence of this virus, enabling such mutants to replicate at least 104 more efficiently than usual, according to Aaron Brault of the University of California, Davis (UCD), and his col... More...

  • Engineering Phage To Target Biofilm Matrices Enhances Disruption
    Author: Carol Potera

    Bacteriophage can be genetically engineered to produce enzymes that dissolve polysaccharide matrices surrounding and protecting bacterial biofilms. These enzymes in turn enhance the ability of phage to break down such biofilms, according to bioengineers James Collins of Boston University in Bosto... More...

  • “Social” Dictyostelium Shows Immune-Like Behaviors

    The soil-dwelling amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, although heralded for its social behavior, also has what might be considered an antisocial side—displaying immune-like activities among a subset of cells that protect against bacterial or other threats encountered in its immediate environm... More...

  • E. coli L Forms Do Not Conform to Cell Wall-Less Dogma
    Author: David Holzman

    For ordinary bacteria, cell division is tightly linked with cell wall synthesis. Bacterial L forms, however, which are amorphous and penicillin-resistant, supposedly grow without making cell wall, which also is known as peptidoglycan or murein. Not so—at least for Escherichia coli L forms,... More...

  • Sonication Augments Testing of Prosthetic Joints for Pathogens

    Sonicating surgically extracted prosthetic knee and hip joints improves the sensitivity of diagnostic testing for pathogens that form biofilms on such devices, which sometimes cause them to fail, according to Robin Patel and collaborators at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Conventional testing re... More...

  • Microbial Trace Fossils Dated at 3.35 Billion Years Raise Questions
    Image of Author: Barry E. DiGregorio

    Using pillow lava samples from the Euro Basalt of Pilbara Craton in Western Australia, Canadian geochemist and petrologist Neil R. Banerjee from the University of Western Ontario and his collaborators identified microbial tunnels that they date to the Archean period. If this evidence holds up it ... More...

  • HIV Disrupts Antimalarial Protective Effects of Pregnancy
    Author: Carol Potera

    Women who are pregnant for the first time are highly susceptible to malaria, a condition known as pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM). However, during subsequent pregnancies women typically build up resistance to PAM, except for those who become infected with HIV. Although pregnant women typically... More...

  • Congress Proposes User Fees on Imports To Bolster Food and Drug Safety

    With little fanfare last August, Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.) proposed sweeping legislation to reform the safety of imported foods and drugs. Dingell chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has held a series of hearings on the safety of the food and drug supply. The new ... More...


  • First ASM Conference in Asia

    ASM is organizing its first conference in Asia, the ASM Conference on Emerging Technologies of Medical Importance for the Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases and the Detection of Pathogenic Microbes. This historic event will present the first-ever cutting-edge technology meeting focusing on clinical... More...

  • Laboratory Capacity Building in Côte d'Ivoire

    ASM, via the International Laboratory Capacity Building Program (Lab Cap), is providing technical support to Côte d'Ivoire in order to help build the nation's capacity for tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics. An ASM team comprised of Khye Seng Goh and Mah-Séré Keita Sow (Program Manager, Inte... More...

  • Kadner Institute Inspires Pathways to Career Success

    Attracting diverse applicants from across the nation, 25 senior-level graduate students and 10 early postdoctoral scientists were both challenged and inspired this past summer during the ASM Kadner Institute. This intensive five-day program was held 21–25 July on the campus of the University of C... More...

  • Thirteen Scholars Research Student Learning at ASMSiR

    This past July, 13 participants came to ASM in Washington, D.C., for their initiation into the 2007–2008 ASM Scholars-in-Residence (ASM-SiR) program. The individuals, named ASM Scholars, kicked off their one-year virtual residency at a four-day institute on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learnin... More...

  • ASM Report
  • International Affairs
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  • Education Board
    Author: Irene Hulede
  • Membership

  • Sugar Nucleotide Biosynthesis Pathways Mapped in Three Trypanosomatids
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    Trypanosomatids express complex glycoproteins and glycolipids that are often essential to their viability and virulence. In these parasites, sugar nucleotides are the sugar donors for protein and lipid glycosylation. But there had been no information on which sugar nucleotides are present in thes... More...

  • Toxin-Antitoxin Systems Promote Neither Stress Recovery Nor Apoptosis in E. coli K-12

    Most bacterial genomes harbor multiple toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems, at multiple locations—in their genomic core, islands, or mobile elements. This ubiquity strongly suggests horizontal gene transfer is occurring. Researchers have proposed that chromosomally-encoded TA systems may be stress-respo... More...

  • Bcr1 Gene Shown To Regulate Biofilm Growth in Another Candida Species

    Candida species are among the most common causes of nosocomial infection, including species besides C. albicans. C. parapsilosis, which grows in biofilms on indwelling medical devices, is a particular problem in the aged and in premature babies. Biofilms are re... More...

  • Fluoroquinolone Resistance Gene Identified, Characterized
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    Fluoroquinolones are poorly active against enterococci. Recently, plasmid-borne resistance to fluoroquinolones due to the qnr gene was reported in certain Enterobacteriaceae species. The gene encodes a protein which protects DNA gyrase from inhibition by fluoroquinolones. Now Stepha... More...

  • Mouth Bacteria Biofilms Induce Acid Tolerance, Promote Cavities
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    The oral microbial flora is normally beneficial for the host, and prevents colonization by pathogenic species. But carbohydrate metabolism reduces pH, which demineralizes enamel, and selects bacterial strains adapted to reduced pH. Jessica Welin-Neilands and Gunnel Svensäter of Malmö University, ... More...

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