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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

YOUNG MICROBIOLOGISTS’ CONFERENCE 2017 - REPORT

YOUNG MICROBIOLOGISTS’ CONFERENCE
27-28 June, 2017
Babcock University, Ilishan remo, Nigeria

RECAP

The opening ceremony started with a word from the Bible, and an opening prayer by the SAT Chaplain Pastor Azorondu. He spoke about the need to make research meaningful for the benefit of mankind and to the glory of God.

The welcome address was delivered on behalf of the Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Ademola Tayo, by the COS, Pastor Dr Audu. In it the Vice Chancellor pledged his continued support for the department and research in Microbiology and other sciences in the University. He praised the School of Science and Technology for the outing which is the first of its kind in Nigeria. He reminded the youth about the great responsibility on their shoulder at this critical moment in Nigeria s history.

The keynote address with the topic, “Advances in Microbiology in the 21st century - where do we belong’’ was delivered by Prof Folarin Oguntoyinbo from the University of Lagos. He mentioned the various areas where microbiology imparts on humanity and highlighted how the young microbiologists in Nigeria can leverage on existing environment to be relevant. Microbiological inputs in Agriculture, Environment, Food  and Medicine  still have green fields yet to be tapped. The molecular approach in microbiology makes it now more attractive, he said.  Prof Oguntoyinbo also emphasized the role of networking, awareness and capacity- building in making the discipline more acceptable and beneficial to the Nigerian society. Prof S O Fapohunda chaired the session.

FIRST SESSION

Chairperson - Dr Chioma Chikere (Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Technology)

The first paper took the audience through the role of microbes in the degradation of iron ore. It was a 30 min presentation of research carried out in South Africa by Prof Rasheed Adeleke and his team. It revealed the ability of some bacteria in bio-hydrometallurgy. The bioremediation of polluted hydrocarbon impacted sites in were made in two presentations. While Ezekoye and his team confirmed the use of metabolic fingerprinting and illumina MiSEQ in achieving this, Adeyemo et al exploited the ability of fungi to achieve same. The session ended with the presentation of Somorin and others on the persistence of E coli in the environment in response to the role of general growth stress response regulator RpoS

SECOND SESSION

Chairperson- Dr Obinna Nwinyi

This is a Food and Agricultural Microbiology session. Presentations  ranged from  Bacterial diversity in the fermentation of Parkia biglobosa  to produce iru (Adewumi) through mycotoxin surveillance in ground nuts as found in Nigeria markets(Oyedele et al) to the studies on the fermentation of fluted pumpkin  with the probiotic Pediococcus pentosaceus(Adesina and Oluwafemi)

        Day 1 also witnessed 2 workshops 

1. Research Collaboration anchored by Prof Adeleke. It discussed the components of a research team and all the ingredients of a successful collaborative effort.

2 Writing award winning grant proposals was facilitated by Dr Somorin. It looked into why some proposals are rejected and some accepted. The workshop also underlined the need for currency and collaboration.

Break out groups were formed where critical issues were raised, linkages struck and gaps filled. The facilitators were Drs Emmanuel Odjajare, Chioma Chikere and Obinna Nwinyi  

                                             Group Picture of delegates at the conference 

DAY 2 - 28 June 2017

Chairperson – Prof Adebukola Omemu

She spoke about the life and times of Dr Mojisola Edema particularly as a food safety enthusiast and activist The lecture was titled Mojisola Edema Memorial lecture.

The speaker Dr. Jeff Agboola spoke on the ‘Mentoring and Gender factor in research for development’. She spoke about Mrs Edema as Mother of Green Revolution in Nigeria. Types of mentoring, Gender responsive to proposal writing, Focus of calls from donor agencies, reason for conference/workshop attendance, She included responsive men ( and not only women) in the whole scheme of gender sensitivity. All proposals should solve a current challenge in the society.

The second presentation by Dr Tosin Somorin on the concept of disciplines and sub discipline - in microbiology  and the need to integrate one in another and/or encouraging interconnectivity showcasing some overlaps. This has been deployed in areas like solar panels, biomimicry, genetic algorithm and biotechnology and practical terms, toilet facility

The workshop on’ Publishing high impact papers in microbiology’ was delivered by Dr C Ezekiel. He gave reasons for publishing, steps for publication, level of research intervention or what it is set out to address, any gaps to be filled. The need for collaboration was stressed and defined the roles of each contributor, level of support are also relevant in publishing. The need to handle planning, consumables data and ethical issues are adequately was stressed. All issues on plagiarism and journal style are expected to be mastered.

The Session on Medical and Diagnostic Microbiology was chaired by Prof Iruka Okeke

1. Aladenika  confirmed the sero-prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii IgG on ophthalmic patients at the Federal Medical Centre Owo particularly  among those aged 40 and above and did not respect gender. There were both active and dormant cases of opportunistic toxoplasmosis in the study area.

2. The second presentation talked about the bacterial profile of the phyllosphere of Ficus thonningii , a medicinal plant. It was by Oaikhena. This investigation was about the family distribution of the detected isolates. There are 10 bacterial family with the phylogenetic tree also presented. Many were Gram negative and there were a few novel species about 7 in number that are pigmented /bacteriocin producers e.g  Aquabacterium species . It concluded that many of them dominated by Enterobacteriaceae and culturable.

3. Oyinloye talked about the power and prowess of Listeria monocytogenes isolated from cattle faeces in Ado Ekiti. Listeria has 14 species with the intra cellular parasite, L. monocytogenes being the ready food borne candidate for pathogenesis. Tests on Wistar rats confirmed their pathogenic prowess through various expressions on some vital organs. The study shows the need for proper identity of isolates used in bacteriology as a few earlier believed identified were later rechristened after molecular trip through them. The study also discouraged the use of animal dung as a source of manure.

4. The effect of Lactobaccilus products on biofilm formation by Streptococcus agalactiae   common in the GI and UG tracts, was by Azuama. The organism survives the harsh situation of the vagina through the formation of biofilm.It s a biological control attempt targeted at S agalactiae. ect of temperature on biofilm   formation. At   -200C the highest inhibitory effect was recorded. Biofilm formation is temperature and pH –dependent. The probiotic Lactobacillus can serve as an alternative for the conventional antibiotic for S. agalactiae.

The session on Microbial genomics and Industrial microbiology chaired by Dr Emmanuel Odjajare

1. The metagenomic sequence of analysis of bacterium communities in soy dadawa condiment was studied and reported by Ezeokoli . Samples were taken from Benue state for analysis. The dominant phylum is the Fermicutes.  Six site- specific volatile compounds were found with Staphylococcus and Bacillus being very common species not previously reported were also discovered and can be used as starter cultures.

2. Ogunremi spoke on the screening and characterization of extracellular phytase from probiotic yeasts isolated from some cereal based foods. Phytase is not secreted by monogastrics like man. Yeast now being considered as probiotics because among other attributes, have a versatile enzyme profile e.g phytase. Media with no phosphorus was the negative control. Five yeasts species gave good growth with phosphorus and phytase. Pichia sp. and Candida sp. were outstanding for their phytase growth and pH relations  and stability . It was efficient at acidic pH.

3. The biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles using pod of cocoa: antibacterial, paint additive and antioxidant applications. The presenter, Ojo, defined the term nanoparticles. Using the well method nanoparticle and antibiotics were tested against some microbes and this recorded some measure of potentiation. Antioxidant activities were also investigated. After 10 mins colour change was measured. Silver nanoparticles were detected through TEM and FTIR, and UV (428nm). A spherical shape was observed using TEM.  The experiment showed that cocoa pod extract can be a good bio-resource in nano particle production.

4. Elegbede presented the last paper for the conference on the valorization of corn cob by fungal isolates for xylanase production in both submerged and solid substrate. The fungi included Aspergillus flavus and A. fumigatus. The fungal isolates did not produce aflatoxin. The xylanase was good for among others, dough rising. The implication of this is that agro waste like corn cob is an abundant reusable substrate for xylanase which has diverse applications.

Poster presentation was done for the 2 days and prizes were awarded for best posters.

Solution providers ==== Thermosteel,  Inqaba  biotec , and Winelight   were on hand to present their product and services. They also exhibited all their analytical equipment.

The Dean School of Science and Technology, Babcock University delivered the Closing remark.

The conference closed at …3.50 pm WAT.




This summary was written by Prof Dele Fapohunda, who is the Chairman BOT, Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria and can be reached @sfoodfeedf  Prof Fapohunda

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Thursday, 6 July 2017

NEW RESISTANCE GENE DISCOVERED IN E-COLI

Researchers have now discovered a new mobile colistin resistance gene, mcr-3, in E. coli of pig origin. The novel mcr-3 gene was discovered when a colistin-resistant Escherichia coli isolate tested negative for both mcr-1 and mcr-2. This novel mobile colistin resistance gene may already be widely disseminated. Screening for the mcr-3 gene should be urgently included in the surveillance of colistin-resistant Gram-negative pathogens from animals, humans, and the environment. Read here

COLISTIN RESISTANCE GENE MCR-3 IN ESCHERICHIA COLI
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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ebola death risen to 4 at Republic of Congo

Medical workers treating a patient suspected of having Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007 (Image: Getty Images)

The overall cases of Ebola rise at Republic of Congo from 29 to 37.

World Health Organization has reported that a forth reported person has possibly died of Ebola in a remote place at northeastern of Republic of Congo.

Since early May 37 cases has been reported with hemorrhagic fever with 2 confirmed Ebola cases,  3 with probable case (including recent death) and 32 are suspected.


Mobile laboratories have been dispatched to monitor around 416 people who are known to be in contact with the sufferers.
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Sunday, 21 May 2017

The slow moving Microbes in deep down under the sea

Sea bed (Image: Pixabay)

The seabed is constantly filling with dead plankton, biological life and also brining down the bio-remnants from the shore. This is ultimately packing up all the ingredients that microbes need to sustain happily. But overtime new sources accumulate layer by layer on the previous sediments. So going deep under will unveil the past sources like moving back in time.

Deep down under the compressed time provides the evolutionary biologists huge difficulty to track genetic turn with community shifts in such a stable environment. In such no change in fluid movement can allow microbes to move or give back clues for horizontal gene transfer. Thus only chance that can happen is with any possible evolutionary changes or death. It has opened consequences that microbes still thrive as we go much deep down under the seabeds.

In a recent study that published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined how microbial communities in sea behave as they are suffocated with newer biological layers and being captivated without any movement. Dr. Piotr Starnawski from Center for Geomicrobiology, Aarhus University led the study of seven top meters of Aarhus bay sediment. He along with his team collected sediments from different points, counting cells and sequenced full genomes. Using several factors like carbon use, cell count and how much carbon turns into biomass (assumed 8%), team calculated the rate of reproduction. They found that on the surface microbes divide every few months but those which are deep down under much slower which takes decades to divide. The energy starved microbes deep inside needs enough time to accumulate the essential carbon and energy to replicate.
Such lower rates give rare possibility for mutation in their genome and to mark for evolution. 

Researchers on calculation found a  rate of 10-5 of mutation rate per genome per generation of a single bacterial species. This has a frequency of almost 100times slower than the surface microbes. So when this mutation does take place is mostly “synonymous”, i.e. the change in DNA does not change the protein structure and function.

Journal Source:
Starnawski P, Bataillon T, Ettema T, Jochum L, Schreiber L, Chen X et al. Microbial community assembly and evolution in subseafloor sediment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2017;114(11):2940-2945.


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Thursday, 4 May 2017

How does the immune system know friend from foe in gut bacteria?

Our guts are home to a complex community of more than 100 trillion microbial cells that play an important role in health and disease. These gut-resident microbes, or gut microbiota - which with their genetic material are known as the gut microbiome - influence metabolism, nutrition, and immune function. Scientists are discovering that disruption in the gut microbiota is linked to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and other gastrointestinal disorders. It has also been suggested that obesity’s effect on the gut microbiome may explain its strong link with type 2 diabetes. Others have likened the uniqueness of a person's gut microbiota to that of a "DNA fingerprint," raising potential privacy concerns for participants of human microbiome research projects. The new study concerns of cell called dendritic cells (DCs) that have evolved two distinctive - and what may appear to be opposite - roles in the human body, in that they can both promote and inhibit immune response. DCs help to activate the immune system in response to infection, but they are also involved in actively suppressing it in certain situations. They suppress immunity by triggering induced regulatory T cells (iTregs), a type of cell that controls the development of immune tolerance. As immunity inhibitors in the gut, DCs help to train the immune system to treat gut microbiota as friend rather than foe. They do this by internalizing proteins from the microbiota and migrating to lymph nodes associated with the gut.


As they travel to the lymph nodes, the DCs break down the internalized friendly bacteria proteins into smaller pieces that become similar to "identity badges" that they wear on their cell surfaces. These identity badges are displayed with specific binding proteins that iTregs recognize, with the effect that the iTregs do not promote immune responses against proteins wearing the identity badges. Prof. Brocker says: "We believe that these iTregs are specific for the proteins produced by natural gut bacteria." The team explains that the migration to lymph cells by the DCs - particularly those whose cell surfaces display a protein called CD103+ - is an important part of keeping the immune system updated on the composition of the gut microbiota. However, what the researchers wanted to discover was how this tolerance mechanism might be switched off in an emergency. Their investigation led them to another molecule that DCs display on their cell surfaces - known as CD40 - that behaves in a similar way to an alarm button. When activated, CD40 binds to a partner molecule on the surface of another type of T cell called effector T cells, which turns DCs from inhibitors of immune response to promoters.

In tests on mice, the researchers showed that animals whose CD40 signaling was permanently switched on developed severe colitis, but no other symptoms. They found that the affected dendritic cells still migrate to the lymph nodes from the gut lining, but when they get there they commit cell suicide (apoptosis) and thus deny the regulatory T cells the opportunity to sense the identity badges of the microbiota proteins that would normally protect them from immune attack.
This results in a generalized immune response in which T lymphocytes travel to the gut lining and cause inflammation. The team found that giving the mice antibiotics that killed their gut microbiota also reduced the inflammation, and the animals survived. The researchers now want to find out whether particular regulatory T cells are programmed for specific gut bacteria, as this study might suggest.


Written by Catharine Paddock PhD (Used without permission)
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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Depression in Mice Shown to be Reversed by Probiotics

Is it true that you are what you eat? Well, have some bacteria then and get happy. Actually it’s much more complex than that. New research from the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine has shown that depressive symptoms and behaviours in mice were reversed when the mice were given food containing lactobacillus, which is a probiotic bacteria found in yogurt that is made with live cultures. The research was even able to uncover the specific process for how these probiotics impacted mood. Finding a link that makes such a close connection between the gut microbiome and mental health is a major step forward in learning more about depression and how it can be treated.

Depression isn’t just feeling sad for a while, it’s a very real neurobiological illness. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in any given year. As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression. Depression also puts those who suffer with it at a higher risk for heart attacks, even if they have no other cardiovascular risk factors. Since depression can seriously hinder things like a person’s ability to have a rewarding career and a stable family life, research into treatments and causes are crucial.


Lead researcher on the study at UVA, Alban Gaultier, stated, “The big hope for this kind of research is that we won’t need to bother with complex drugs and side-effects when we can just play with the microbiome. It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health – and your mood. It’s a huge problem and the treatments are not very good, because they come with huge side-effects.”

So what exactly is the “gut microbiome?” It’s the living bacteria inside the intestinal tract that is responsible for, among other things, keeping the body in balance. It’s a popular target of researchers looking into all kinds of illnesses. Connecting it to mental illness or other neurological conditions has been difficult however. Since the mouse model is used in research because of its similarity to humans, Galtier’s team looked at mice that were subjected to stress since stress can cause depression. Of course in mice, it was more about observing how they acted and looking for “depressive like behaviors” and “despair behavior” since there is obviously no other way to judge mood in animals.

When the gut microbiome composition was examined in the mice, both before and after a period of stress there was one major change that stood out. The bacteria lactobacillus was reduced in correlation to the onset of depressive behaviors in the mice. When the researchers added lactobacillus cultures back to the food of the depressed mice, the behaviors stopped and they began to behave as they had before the stress was induced.

The research at UVA took it a step further and also investigated how exactly this mechanism of lactobacillus fluctuation worked. Their study revealed that amounts of Lactobacillus in the gut will impact levels of a metabolite in the blood called kynurenine which is known to fuel depression. When lactobacillus went down, kynurenine went up and the despair behaviors of the mice began. The team hopes that they can translate these results in humans. Graduate student Ioana Marin, a researcher on the study said, “There has been some work in humans and quite a bit in animal models talking about how this metabolite, kynurenine, can influence behavior. It’s something produced with inflammation that we know is connected with depression. But the question still remains: How? How does this molecule affect the brain? What are the processes?

Published first in Medical News
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Friday, 28 April 2017

Rare Microbes Make a Critical Contribution to the Environment

New work published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology suggests that bacteria present at very small levels in the environment actually make a vital contribution to the health and stability of that environment. This research concerns microbes that don’t usually account for more than a tenth of a percent of the bacteria in the whole population. "The work aims to provide a fundamental understanding of how biodiversity contributes to ecosystem functioning," said the corresponding author of the work, Kostas Konstantinidis, PhD.

In the environment at large, these are low levels, but in individual communities there may be hundreds of them, actually therefore, composing 20 to 30 percent of specific bacteria in an aquatic group. Termed the rare biosphere, these uncommon species were found to harbor large amounts of genes capable of allowing for organic pollutant degredation. The abilities conferred by those microbes may be helping the entire microbial population remain stable in the face of environmental pressures and alterations. The investigators, a team from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, wanted to test this idea, so they created mesocosms, or laboratory environments, made up of 20 liters of water. These reservoirs were then inoculated with water samples taken from a local freshwater source, Lake Lanier. 


                                                     (c) Google Image
Three common organic chemicals, not present in the samples they took from the lake, were then dribbled into the mesocosms. The scientists wanted ot ensure that the microbes had not be acclimated to the presence of those pollutants in order to reveal as much as possible about the microbes’ abilities. "Also, the important environmental pollutants are generally at low concentration in most natural environments, similar to the organic compounds used here--except during major events such as oil spills" said Konstantinidis, the Carlton S. Wilder Associate Professor in the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech.

The pollutants used included 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), a common herbicide that is a known endocrine disrupter and may be a carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The other compounds were caffeine (1,3,7-trimethyluric acid) and 4-nitrophenol (4-NP), used in fungicide production and one byproduct of pesticide breakdown.
"We chose these compounds because their biodegradation pathways and the underlying genes are known, which facilitated tracking which microbial populations encoded the proteins for the biodegradation of these organic compounds," explained Konstantinidis.

The researchers repeatedly assayed the bacterial levels in the mseocosms to find which ones grew more or grew less. "The results allowed us to rigorously test the hypothesis that low abundance species, as opposed to common species, provided the metabolic diversity that enabled the community to respond to the added compounds and the changing conditions," said Konstantinidis. The goal of the work was to improve our predictions of how microbial communities might react to future disruptions from stuff like oil, pesticides, or climate change, said Konstantinidis. We may learn a lot more about how microbes contribute to the function and resilience of our ecosystem, and the possible consequences microbes face due to contaminant spills or climate change.


Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via American Society for Microbiology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology 
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