by Ted Park | The scene opens in 1943. I was a graduate student in fermentation biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. As this was at the height of World War II, most research projects were war-related. My first assignment was no different: to identify mutants of Aerobacter aerogenes that produced improved yields of 2,3-butylene glycol (2,3-butanediol), a potential candidate... Read more →
by Merry Youle | Because it prefers to dine on some of our valued crop plants, the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is considered a major pest — thus a Bad Guy from our perspective. Pea aphids are not without their enemies. Enemy number one is a parasitoid wasp, Aphidius ervi. As parasitoid wasps are used to do, females provide for their offspring by... Read more →
by Elio | The very first post on this blog was about the circadian rhythm of cyanobacteria. They turn their photosynthetic apparatus on and off to match the daily course of light and dark. This is a true clock-driven circadian rhythm because it manifests whether or not the light is on or off, thus is not just a response to a stimulus. Read more →
by Jennifer Gutierrez | Fluorescence microscopy of bacteria has long been a challenge due to the size of the organisms and the diffraction limit of visible-light microscopy. Although much valuable data has been collected by refining optical systems, automating microscopy setups, and using... Read more →
by Elio | Huge amounts of money and effort are going into making automotive fuels using biological processes, but a fully satisfactory answer is not yet at hand. Well, fungi may come to the rescue. Strobel et al. found that a fungus called Gliocladium roseum actually makes a complex mixture of volatile hydrocarbons and derivatives that resemble those found in diesel fuels. Not only that, this fungus... Read more →
by Elio | Fungi, along with selected bacteria and invertebrates, are included in the list of bioluminescent organisms. These fungi are pretty unique because, unlike the other light-emitting organisms, fungi don't walk, swim, or fly. Thus, the usual explanations for bioluminescence... Read more →
by Elio | We can attest to these truths through a lone piece of amber. Between 50 and 35 million years ago, a springtail (Collembola) got stuck in some resin, probably from a conifer. Before it could free itself, more resin dripped on it, eventually entombing it completely. In time, the resin became amber, but before that happened, a fungus grew... Read more →
by Elio | Anyone who has gone out hunting for wild mushrooms and came back with a nearly empty basket has been tempted to "borrow" specimens from someone more lucky. This cardinal sin now has a name: mycoklepty. Stealing fungi is not limited to humans. Beetles do it too. Read more →
by Elio | Anthropocentric: 1. considering human beings as the most significant entity of the universe. 2. interpreting or regarding the world in terms of human values and experiences. How does anthropocentrism apply to microbiologists? In a current commentary in the new journal Gut Pathogens, Ramy Aziz reminds us that it... Read more →
The purpose of this blog is to share my appreciation for the width and depth of the microbial activities on this planet. I will emphasize the unusual and the unexpected phenomena for which I have a special fascination... (more)
For the memoirs of my first 21 years of life, click here.
This Week in Virology, the podcast about viruses, celebrates its 300th episode on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 with a live recording at the Washington, DC headquarters of the American Society for Microbiology.