Microbe Magazine

July 2009

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

  • Virology in the 21st Century
    Author: L. W. Enquist

    Viruses and viral diseases have been at the center of science, agriculture, and medicine for millennia, and some of our greatest challenges and triumphs have involved virology. Smallpox is a prime example. This greatest killer of humankind changed the course of history during the European conques... More...

  • Metabolic Teamwork between Gut Microbes and Hosts
    Image of Authors: William H Karasov, and Hannah V. Carey

    Symbiotic relationships between microbes and their animal and plant hosts shape our world. Interest in these host-microbial interactions is intensifying, and researchers from many disciplines within biology are striving to understand their functional and evolutionary significance.

  • Metatranscriptomics: Eavesdropping on Complex Microbial Communities
    Image of Author: Mary Ann Moran

    At any moment, an estimated 1030 bacterial and archaeal genes are mediating essential ecological processes throughout the world. The new field of metatranscriptomics, using an approach that sequences microbial genes expressed within intact natural communities, allows us to understand m... More...


  • Bacterial Symbionts of Farming Ants Produce Cyclic Antimicrobials
    Image of Author: Marcia Stone

    Leaf-cutting, or attine, ants culture antibiotic-producing bacteria to defend their fungal gardens against predators. One of their selective antibiotics, an actinobacterially produced cyclic depsipeptide containing highly modified amino acids, was recently isolated and analyzed by Jon Clardy from... More...

  • Plenty of Early Jockeying To Prepare H1N1 Flu Vaccines

    In April and May as the H1N1 influenza outbreak spread from Mexico and the United States to much of the rest of the world, public health officials and vaccine manufacturers were actively planning for vaccines to curb that spread. Here are some highlights:

  • Uropathogen Seems To Induce Epigenetic Changes Favoring Persistence
    Author: Brian Hoyle

    Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) boost expression of a critical DNA-methylating enzyme in human epithelial cells from the urinary tract, conferring epigenetic changes that make those host cells more vulnerable to chronic and recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), according to Dari... More...

  • Persistent Cytomegalovirus Infection an Apparent Risk Factor for Hypertension

    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections can help to elevate blood pressure, in part by stimulating expression of renin in a dose-dependent manner, according to Clyde Crumpacker of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., and his collaborators there and at nearby Tufts University School of Medicine. Thus... More...

  • SARS Virus Spike Protein Second Cleavage Site Crucial for Species Shifts
    Author: Carol Potera

    The coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has a second cleavage site in the viral spike protein needed for virulence, with that newly identified second site likely allowing the virus to bypass specific receptors and infect cells of different species, according to virolo... More...

  • Blood-Like Seepage at Glacier Brims with Metabolic Oddities
    Image of Author: Barry E. DiGregorio

    A subglacial basin of ancient seawater that is beneath 400 meters of ice making up Taylor Glacier in the Mc-Murdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica is the source of a microbial consortium whose metabolism depends on an extraordinary catalytic sulfur cycle, according to geomicrobiologist Jill A. Mikucki f... More...

  • Scent Sensors Are New Target for Repellents To Curb Insect Vector-Borne Diseases

    Ionotropic receptors (IRs) in antennae of insects are previously unrecognized components of the olfactory system of insects, including fruit flies and mosquitoes, and thus a potential target for repellents that could help in controlling insect-borne diseases, according to Howard Hughes Medical In... More...

  • Questions Linger over Science behind Anthrax Letters
    Author: Jeffrey L. Fox

    Despite the outcome in mid-2008 of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into the deadly and disruptive anthrax attacks of 2001, the FBI in May arranged for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the microbial and other forensic efforts that bureau officials coordinated as par... More...

  • Sludge Bacteria Prove Apt at Degrading Cholesterol

    Gordonia cholesterolivorans, a bacterial species isolated from sewage sludge, can actively degrade cholesterol in such settings but might be used to make or modify novel types of cholesterol derivatives for medical applications, according to Oliver Drzyzga and his collaborat... More...

  • Novel Means for Spreading Resistance Traits among Gram-Negative Pathogens
    Author: David Holzman

    A newly recognized mobile element named “integron mobilization unit” (IMU) is a novel means for spreading antibiotic resistance genes, thus adding to the roster of molecular mechanisms for disseminating resistance traits to a broad variety of gram-negative bacterial pathogens, according to Johann... More...



  • ASM Journals Price Freeze for 2010 Subscription Year

    Subscription prices for the 9 research journals and 2 review journals will not increase in the 2010 subscription year for ASM members. The pricing freeze applies to all ASM online journals and bundles, including the All-11, Basic, and Clinical packages, as well as print subscriptions.

  • International Mentoring Program
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    The International Mentoring Program, established in 2001, has been significantly enhanced in depth and utility during 2008–2009. The improvements made to the program in 2008 include the establishment of formal Rules of Engagement and increased search criteria for prospective mentees, with IEC mem... More...

  • ASM Journals Website Redesign, SLA Awards

    In late June, ASM Journals launched the redesign of its HighWire website. In an effort to create a more accessible experience for users, the updated journal pages were redesigned to be clearer and easier to navigate. The new site, still accessed at www.journals.asm.org, gives a complete update to... More...

  • Education Board
  • International Affairs
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  • ASM Activities at the Local Level
  • Membership

  • Virulence Factor Assembly Requires Proper Location
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    Understanding the transport and processing of proteins from cytosol to the extracellular milieu is particularly important at the host-pathogen interface. Kimberly A. Kline, Michael G. Caparon, Scott J. Hultgren, and Andrew L. Kau of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo., et al.... More...

  • Animal Model for Pregnancy-Associated Malaria Shows Promise
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    Pregnancy-associated malaria causes mother-offspring morbidity and mortality, despite protective immunity acquired prior to the first pregnancy. Susceptibility declines with each pregnancy, as women acquire protective immunoglobulin G with specificity for the relevant parasitic surface antigens. ... More...

  • New Method for Strain Improvement Could Boost Commodity Chemicals

    Strain improvement programs are critical for production of commodity chemicals and fuels, since profit margins are small. Even minor gains in efficiency are economically significant. They fall into two categories: rational approaches and random methods, the latter often based upon creation of mut... More...

  • Innate Immunity Fights Avian Flu

    Studies in a porcine model have suggested that H5N1 avian influenza viruses are resistant to type I interferon (IFN) response. Now Kristy J. Szretter, Jacqueline M. Katz, et al. of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga., show in a mouse model that the IFNR pathway offers som... More...

  • An Effort To Abate Malaria Via the Vector
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    Malaria is the most important vector-borne disease in the world, infecting half a billion annually (7% of the world's population), and causing 3 million deaths. Anopheles mosquitos are the vector. Working from the hypothesis that the normally symbiotic bacterium Wolbachia could... More...

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