As is our custom, we provide a lightly annotated list of our posts from the past half year.
We mourn the loss of three giants in our field. Oddly, they died on consecutive months (March, April, May)
Eco and Evo
- Even More Antibiotics In The Nursery! Christoph has a passion for beewolves (solitary digger wasps) and their Streptomyces symbionts or at least for their skill in making a variety of antibiotics. Not only that, they make them in appropriate mixtures. You witness here the evolution of a veritable pharmacy.
- Trial by Fire. Know what a ‘press disturbance’ is? Roberto explains, it’s not what’s in the newspapers, but rather a long-term disruption that may cause lasting changes in populations. An example is a long-lasting coal mine fire and how it affects the microbiome at the site.
- A Microbial Utopia: Cheese. Graduate students Nathan Jayne (University of California at San Diego), Amanda Alker and Nathalie Delherbe (both at San Diego State University) team up to delve into the microbiology of the rinds of cheeses and find the excitement of horizontal gene transfer.
- One Grain of Sand. Yes, one grain of sand contains a rich population of microbes. Christoph deals with methods for studying them and where such studies can lead us.
- More Sand Grains. To follow up on a previous post, Christoph brings up the question, why were Archaea neglected here (as elsewhere)? Read and find out.
- Petri's dish vs. Winogradsky's column –shifting boundaries between purity and mixture of microbes. Science historian Mathias Grote at the Humboldt University of Berlin posits that the two ways of culturing bacteria represent contrasting Weltanschauungen.
- A Whiff of Taxonomy – Granulicatella and Abiotrophia. Here is a pair of commensals that occasionally cause disease (ask Elio about his knee infection of recent). Christoph explains.
- A Whiff of Taxonomy – The Tenericutes. Christoph shines a well-deserved light on Mycoplasmas and their ilk. About time.
- Lunar … Life? UC San Diego graduate student Gillian Belk is in favor of decent techniques to ensure that the spacecrafts that land elsewhere better be sterile.
- Flagellar Motors: How a Bacterium Shakes its Groove Thing. A recent graduate of Canisius College, Mike Delmont discusses details of flagellar motility, including the role of a molecular clutch in the motor.
- The Way Up and The Way Down. Elio finally started to pay attention about how plants, animals, and fungi tell the way and respond to gravity. Oddly, for this purpose, they all use small weights within their cells.
- More on "How to Tell Up And Down". UC San Diego graduate student Alexander Weitzel expands on this fascinating subject and explains that ‘gravitropism’ works in plants via ‘’heavy” organelles called amyloplasts.
- Microbes Make the Most of Milk. Rachel Diner, a graduate student at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography (and a recent mom) discusses the good things carried out by the oligosaccharides in human milk.
- Ocean's Tiniest Predator. Christoph tell that Braarudosphaera bigelowii, a member of the photosynthetic algal clade Haptophyta, has been identified as a very tiny predator of the abundant marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus.
- Ocean's Tiniest Predator – Um, Really? It turns out that B. bigelowii (see above) may not be the predator in question. Christoph discusses this interesting controversy and says: ‘Advances in the sciences are often – if not usually – kickstarted by someone literally seeing things for the first time that others failed to see even when in plain sight. The necessary scientific debate of such "Firsts" is what drives advances in knowledge.’
- Good Reading: Bacterial communication through electrical signaling. Ananya Sen, a graduate student at the U. of Illinois at Urbana, discusses the recent work on communication between bacterial biofilms carried out via electric signals.
- Biofilms Utilize Competition for Maximum Growth. The recent work of the Süel lab on intra-biofilm communication is further discussed by Aaron Angerstein and Yao Yao, biology graduate students at UC San Diego and Maria Isabel Rojas at San Diego State University. The conclusion? When resources are limited, biofilms have the "intelligence" to implement a resource-sharing strategy in order to resolve conflicts with neighboring biofilms.
- The Nuclear Option. Christoph discusses bacteria as nuclear invaders of amoebas and other organisms. Rickettsiae are not unique in this regard, but they frequently localize in the nuclei of a variety of cells. Maybe they get there during mitosis (no nuclear envelope?) Lots more to this topic here, so read on…
Musings et al.
- Microbial Olympians . Did you think that only people participate in the Olympics? Try again and thank Jamie for making microbes participate. Rodeo, luge, synch swimming, wrestling, etc.
- Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. Elio evokes Virgil’s dictum that "Happy is he who was able to know the causes of things" and ponders over its deeper meaning.
- A Whiff of Taxonomy – Eliobacter woosyi. Elio’s 90th birthday caused the STC team to have fun with an imaginary microbe that is supposed to reveal aspects of his life. Did it?
- STC's Messy 'Search' Function... ‘Search’ in STC doesn’t search very well. Consider googling the item plus Small Things Considered.
- Cryptic Oddballs. Jamie loves cyptograms, so she produced another microbiological one.
- An Exam Question. Our Cairo University friend, Prof. Ramy Aziz shared fun he had with his students.
- Fine Reading: A Collection of Notable Publications from 2017. We asked a number of our friends and colleagues from many locations from across the globe to select a publication from 2017 that they found particularly fascinating. A number of them responded with alacrity
Fungomania (by Elio)
- Fungomania I. The Yeast and the Bee
- Fungomania II. The Humongousest Fungus
- Fungomania III. Everybody Talks About the Weather But Mushrooms Do Something About It.
- Talmudic Question #151
- Talmudic Question #152
- Talmudic Question #153
- Pictures Considered #45. A Gauze Bandage
- Pictures Considered #46. Fairy Lights (nanometer scale)