Microbe Magazine

December 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

  • Microbial Communities in Nature: a Postgenomic Perspective
    Image of Author: Donald A. Klein

    The term microbial community often comes up in the context of natural microbial assemblages (NMAs) being analyzed. Because the majority of microbes in such NMAs show no detectable activity or growth, researchers use molecular techniques to characterize microbes in these NMA—while assuming that nu... More...

  • Insect and Mammalian Innate Immune Responses Are Much Alike
    Image of Authors: Kevin Kavanagh, and Emer P. Reeves

    Insects are found in almost every habitat on Earth, with as many as 1018 live individuals belonging to perhaps 1 million separate species. In terms of evolution, although insects and vertebrates diverged approximately 500 million years ago, many components of their biochemistries and p... More...

  • Who Killed the Worm and Other Fungal Pathogenesis Insights
    Image of Author: Eleftherios Mylonakis

    Many pathogens depend on the same virulence factors to cause disease in mammals such as mice and in nonmammalian hosts, thus sharing a fundamental set of molecular mechanisms across a widely divergent array of hosts. This approach to evaluating virulence factors by seeking them among divergent mo... More...


  • Rich Display of Novel Antimicrobial Agents at 47th ICAAC
    Author: Jeffrey L. Fox

    Measured in terms of sheer numbers, the 47th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) was noteworthy in terms of the novel antimicrobial structures being presented, according to Karen Bush of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical (J&J) in Raritan, N.J., a coconv... More...

  • Parasites and Pathogens to the Fore on the Genomics Front

    The recently determined DNA sequences of several parasite and pathogen genomes provide noteworthy insights, including:

  • Phage Sometimes Remodel Host Genomes
    Image of Author: Brian Hoyle

    When cyanophage infect Prochlorococcus, they kill some host bacteria but remodel others in ways that makes the survivors hardier, according to Sallie Chisholm of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., Debbie Lindell of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology (... More...

  • Several Developments on the Antimicrobial Front

    • Officials of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October approved the antiviral drug Isentress™ (raltegravir), for use in combination with other antiretroviral agents in HIV-infected patients; raltegravir, which was developed ...

  • Fluorinated Antimicrobial Peptide Resists Proteases, Has Elevated Potency
    Author: Carol Potera

    Fluorinating antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) renders them dramatically more resistant to proteolytic enzymes and, in some cases, elevates their antimicrobial potency, according to Neil Marsh and his collaborators at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. They presented their findings during the 234... More...

  • Thimerosal in Vaccines Deemed Unlikely To Account for Autism in Children

    Exposure to thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in vaccines since the 1930s, does not appear to account for autism or other neuropsychological deficits in children, according to William Thompson and his collaborators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlant... More...

  • AAM Report Cites Progress in Assessing Drinking Water Microbial Risks
    Image of Author: Merry R. Buckley

    Despite its limitations, microbial risk assessment can be extremely useful for safeguarding drinking water quality, according to a new report from the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), “Clean Water: What is Acceptable Microbial Risk?” The report, based on a colloquium convened during Novemb... More...

  • Serial Growth in Microchambers Adapts Balky Microbes to Culture
    Author: David Holzman

    Domesticate them serially, and they will grow—even otherwise balky bacteria, including strains from the phylum Verrucomicrobia, whose members are notoriously difficult to raise in the lab, according to Slava Epstein and colleagues at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. The key develop... More...

  • Disturbing News on the Antibiotic Resistance Front

    Several recent disturbing developments on the antibiotic resistance front include:

  • Potential Water Quality Problems

    Increased use of corn to produce ethanol for fuel could lead to deterioration of water quality in the United States, according to a report, “Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States,” made public in October by a committee of the National Research Council, which is part of th... More...


  • ASM Meetings Board Annual Meeting

    The ASM Meetings Board is comprised of the chairs and vice chairs of the several Program Committees that develop scientific content for ASM's many face-to-face and distance learning meetings and programs. The Board is also responsible for exhibits, industry relations and sponsorships, and pr... More...

  • Study Finds Decline in Handwashing Behavior
    Image of

    The ASM Communications Committee's most recent periodic survey of handwashing behavior offers some discouraging results. The percentage of Americans washing with soap and water after using a public restroom is down compared to two years ago.

  • New ASM-CDC Cooperation: International Emerging Infections Programs

    ASM will be expanding current Lab Cap activities under the CDC cooperative agreement component to conduct laboratory capacity technical assistance in countries that participate in the CDC's International Emerging Infections Program (IEIP). The IEIP is a core component of the CDC's Globa... More...

  • International Affairs
  • Membership
    Image of Authors: Frances Pouch Downes, and Ronald J. Zabransky

  • Small Animal Model Mimics Poxvirus Infections
    Image of

    There is renewed interest in developing new smallpox vaccines and antivirals. Unfortunately, existing animal models—necessary for evaluation—lack key features of human disease, such as high lethality following inoculation with low levels of virus; a generalized dissemination with secondary lesion... More...

  • Clean Energy from Termite Gut Symbionts?
    Image of

    Hydrogen emission is yet another unique and potentially useful characteristic of termite gut symbionts. But researchers interested in new ways to secure this elusive gas from woody materials have been stymied by the difficulty of cultivating these protists. Now Moriya Ohkuma of RIKEN, in Saitama,... More...

  • New Extended-Spectrum β-Lactamase-Producing Pathogens Emerge
    Image of

    Extended-spectrum-β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing gram-negative rods challenge the antibiotic armamentarium worldwide. Previously, the biggest threat came from hospital-based outbreaks of ESBL-producing microbes, notably Klebsiella spp. or Escherichia coli. Now James H. Jorgensen of th... More...

  • Microbial Fuel Cells Run Efficiently on Plankton

    Ocean microbial fuel cells could supply supplemental power to autonomous underwater gliders which—now powered by batteries—monitor ocean properties such as dissolved oxygen concentration. Clare E. Reimers of Oregon State University, Newport, et al. show that the biomass in marine plankton is a go... More...

  • Certain Virulence Factors Do Not Determine Severity in Infection
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    Only a small proportion of those infected with Heliocobacter pylori develop severe disease. One possible determinant of disease severity had been some virulence factors previously described in this bacterium, including the adhesion protein BabA2, and CagA and VacAs1. To test this question,... More...


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