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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Engineered yeast produce different flavors and fragrance with fermented products

Ginkgo Bioworks staff members Ramya Prathuri (left) and Nate Tedford work at the mass spectrometer in the Ginkgo foundry. Credit: Ginkgo Bioworks/Source: Phys dot Org

We know engineers can develop new models and gadgets for better living. But what if biological engineers do the same in biological models to give well flavoured beers! MIT spinout Ginko Bioworks re-engineered yeast as the organic factory for better flavour, fragrance and fermented food products. The yeast can help to make products much quick and cheap.

"We see biology as a transformative technology," says Ginkgo co-founder Reshma Shetty PhD '08, who co-invented the technology at MIT. "It is the most powerful and sophisticated manufacturing platform on the planet, able to self-assemble incredible structures at a scale that is far out of reach of the most cutting-edge human technology." (As reported to Phys dot Org)

Similarly as for beer, where yeast use sugars to create alcohol with added flavours. Ginko yeast can able to use fatty acids and can produce chemicals that add flavours and scents during fermentation. These chemicals can be extracted to be used for different products.

To engineer this yeast on larger scale, Ginko built 18,000 square-foot foundry with modern machines. Inside foundry, engineers use softwares and databases to make unique enzymes as new instructions to the yeast. The product is ultimately purified through chromatography.

Suggested Reading and Source: Phys dot Org

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A New Therapeutic Option in Place of Antibiotics in Fighting Life-threatening Bacteria.

Hepatic Cirrhosis is a progressive disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and naturally produced toxins. This is usually caused by prolong exposure to toxins such as alcohol and viral infection leading to death, several of which is reported yearly. Over a long period up to decades liver cirrhosis develops, and due to its proximity to the intestine leakage of intestinal bacteria enters the liver via the blood.  

                                                           Picture from Google Image
Prof. Dr. Jonel Trebicka from the Department of Internal Medicine in the University Hospital Bonn, attributed about one-third of cirrhosis cases to bacterial infection, a conclusion made from his experience in studying liver cirrhosis for many years. At the Institute for Experimental Immunology in the University Hospital Bonn, a team led by Dr. Zeinab Abdullah alongside those from the Institute of Molecular Immunology in the Technical University Munich, led by Prof. Dr. Percy Knolle aimed to find out the reason behind low immunity exhibited by patients with hepatic cirrhosis. have impaired immunity. This they discovered after intense research using animal model.
It was discovered that mice with liver cirrhosis produces Type-1 interferon in response to the intestinal bacteria by macrophages and monocytes in the liver. Further infection of these immune cells with lower loads of pathogenic bacteria (Listeria sp.), there was a massive production of Type-1 interferon. Therefore, the immune-regulatory factor interleukin-10 was release, which led to a defect in the anti-bacterial functions of the macrophages resulting to serious infection. When human monocytes from blood of patients suffering from cirrhosis were used in place of test mice; Dr. Zeinab Abdullah, a group leader at the Institute for Experimental Immunology in the University hospital Bonn said: "Following infection with pathogenic bacteria, we also observed highly elevated production of Type-1 interferon and interleukin-10 by monocytes from cirrhosis patients". "Our results identify the blind spot of the immune system that is responsible for the failure of the immune response to bacterial infections".
Further experiments identified new therapeutic options: This is where it gets interesting; even though gut bacteria is implicated in the liver there was no Listeria infection as observed in mice that cannot produce Type-1 interferon. Inability to produce Type-interferon inadvertently affects the production of interleukin-10 despite Listeria infection. "The groundbreaking finding of our study is that we might now be able to treat a life-threatening bacterial infection without antibiotics, simply by strengthening the immune response", says Prof. Dr. Percy Knolle of TU Munich. Hence, there is hope for new therapeutic options at least when it comes to treating Liver cirrhosis. "When the formation of Type-1 interferon in the liver cells is blocked by suitable substances, there is a prospect of reinvigorating the immune system", adds Professor Knolle. Conversely, as usual with drug discovery an extensive clinical studies and trial have to be carried out.

Article: Carl-Philipp Hackstein, Lisa Mareike Assmus, Meike Welz, Sabine Klein, Timo Schwandt, Joachim Schultze, Irmgard Förster, Fabian Gondorf, Marc Beyer, Daniela Kroy, Christian Kurts, Jonel Trebicka, Wolfgang Kastenmüller, Percy A Knolle, Zeinab Abdullah (2016) “Gut Microbial Translocation Corrupts Myeloid Cell Function to Control Bacterial Infection during Liver Cirrhosis”  Gut, doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2015-311224

Monday, 29 August 2016

Genome of an Arctic bacteria reveal about their survival strategy

Scientists from University of Bristol revealed an Arctic microbe that can able to survive extremes of cold temperature. Researchers at Bristol Glaciology Centre sequenced the genome of the bacterium called Phormidesmis priestleyi which is a cyanobacteria a kind of photosynthetic microorganism.

The research was published recently in the journal BMC Genomics.

This new study can explain how these tiny creatures capable to survive extreme temperatures. Places like arctic, Antarctic and at high altitudes plants can not able to survive but this cyanobacteria living in such an extreme place and preparing their own food with the simple sources of sunlight, sugars, carbon dioxide and water.

In Greenland, this Phormidesmis priestleyi form cryoconite holes on ice sheets. This kind of holes can be seen on vast areas covered with ice. The bacterium serves to be an important environmental engineer for ecosystem over glaciers and ice caps.

Leading author of the paper, Nathan Chrismas who is a PhD student at Bristol Glaciology Centre said to Phys dot org, "Many cold adapted organisms, or psychrophiles, have distinct signatures in their genomes related to how they are adapted to survival in the cold. By isolating and sequencing its genome of Phormidesmis priestleyi, we could look for distinctive signatures at the genome level. We found its genome is similar to related organisms from much warmer environments. This new genome suggests that Phormidesmis priestleyi mainly survives in cold environments by producing a special protective coating made from sugars."

Dr Patricia Sánchez-Baracaldo from School of Geographical Sciences working as Royal Society Research Fellow said, "I am delighted that my lab was able to sequence the first genome of a key cyanobacterium in the Arctic. Our work shows that by wrapping itself in a protective layer made out of a complex arrangement of sugars, this microbe uses this sticky layer to protect its cells from freezing, allowing it to survive through the Arctic winter.

Interestingly, other cyanobacteria species use similar strategies in order to survive in other extreme habitats. Such strategies have allowed cyanobacteria to colonise some of the most inhospitable places on our planet."

Source: Phys dot org

Poll: Results show researchers and students support Open Access research

What if you get all the research notes for free? Same is what researchers and students support. It has been a long term debate in the scientific community. On behalf of We The Microbiologist we presented question about open access research and what they think about it.

The results is remarkable. There were about 95% people from scientific community supports open access research. But it is important to note the restricted research access also holds lot of importance.

So here is the question:

Q) Do you support open access research?


A) Yes = 95.1%
B) No = 2.4%
C) May Be = 2.4%

The poll statistics can be found at (download link). Please let us know what you think in the comment box below.

Please read the disclaimer here.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Bacterial protein can replace copper wires to bring supercomputers

Microbes prevail everywhere and you can find them wherever you want to inspect them. They can be deep under the soil, warm places like hot springs and even in the cold chilly places like Antarctica. A bacterium called Geobacter thrives where organic life can not prevail as reported by the researchers from University of Massachusetts.

Image: pixabay
The Geobacter instead of expelling electrons grow hair like protein filaments and transfer electrons out during oxygen based respiration from cell to the surrounding iron materials. Dr. Derek Lovely, professor of Microbiology at the Institute who was working along with U.S. Navy and his colleagues genetically modified these protein filaments to supercharge their conductivity. They tweaked two amino acids from the protein and increased the conductivity upto 2,000 fold.

“Research like Dr. Lovley’s could lead to the development of new electronic materials to meet the increasing demand for smaller, more powerful computing devices,” said Linda Chrisey, a program officer in ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department, which sponsors the research. “Being able to produce extremely thin wires with sustainable materials has enormous potential application as components of electronic devices such as sensors, transistors and capacitors.”

Like copper wires the filaments conducts electricity in the same way and thus providing new insight to promising alternatives for military’s nanoelectronics. This filament is far better than production of copper wires which make it difficult in resource constrain and laborious purification process. Geobacter can be grown on acetate or acetic acid which is cheap and renewable source. It is also much stable protein even in high temperature or changes in pH.

Geobacter was discovered decade ago but the but the research progressed a year ago.

“We continue to focus on advanced materials in our laboratories and understanding how we can do microbial energy, where we’re taking the positive electrons that are made on the microbes on the seabed, and we’re capturing those, and we’re hooking up some red and black connectors, and we’re gathering the electricity,” ONR’s Rear Adm. Mat Winter said at CSIS. “So we’re not there yet, but … machines at the nano-level are going to be an incredible game-changer.”


Friday, 26 August 2016

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Fusobacteria use a protein to bind colorectal tumor

A commonly found mouth bacteria called fusobacteria stick to developing colorectal polyps and cancer with the help of a sugar-binding protein. This a new research published from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Hebrew University brought close to fight colon cancer. Garrett Lab at Harvard Chan School has already shown previously how fusobacteria worsen colorectal cancer but this is the first time they demonstrate how they stick to such developing tumors.

Wendy Garrett, co-senior study author added that it can provide ways to block the binding of fusobacteria to colorectal tumors. She added, “Alternatively, and perhaps more importantly, our findings suggest that drugs targeting the same or similar mechanisms of bacterial sugar-binding proteins could potentially prevent these bacteria from exacerbating colorectal cancer.”

The research was published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe on August 10, 2016.

Colorectal Cancer is the third leading cause of death in US. Epidemiology in 2012 has shown 1.4million cases and almost 694,000 deaths in the world. The microbes have significantly taking part worsening the condition of cancer, where fusobacteria is one of them.

The mechanism of the study was understood with human samples and mouse models by Garrett and co-author Gilad Bachrach of Hebrew University.


Blood poisoning triggered by Staphylococci – the process.

Blood poisoning is an infection of the blood i.e. the presence of microorganisms or their toxins in the blood resulting to disease otherwise known as septicemia/bacteremia. This is dangerous because bacteria and their toxin can be carried to the entire body. If left untreated it can progress to sepsis which is very fatal. The bacteria can travel to vital organs such as brain, heart and lung causing organ failure.
Septicemia is caused by an infection in other part of the body, when bacteria from there gain access to the blood stream, multiplies and spread over the body. Common infection includes: Urinary Tract Infection, Lung Infection (Pneumonia), Kidney Infection and Infection in the Abdominal area. Also, a person with severe injury; burns or immunocompromised is at high risk.  When diagnosed very early, septicemia can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Research efforts are focused on finding out better ways to diagnose the condition earlier as there are few options for diagnosing and treating the disease.
Septicemia can be caused by several pathogens depending on the infection but one caused by Staphylococcus aureus leads to thousands of deaths each year in Germany alone. The peculiarity of Staphylococci comes from the fact that it does not contain endotoxin, hence, how it causes septicemia is unclear. Unlike other pathogens mostly Gram-negative that forms endotoxin molecule which causes septicemia. The way the infection begins and how it leads to multiple organ failure was not well understood until recently. Researchers at the University of Tübingen's Interfaculty Institute for Microbiology and Infection Medicine (IMIT) and the German Center for Infection Medicine (DZIF) headed by Dr. Dorothee Kretschmer, Dennis Hanzelmann and Professor Andreas Peschel already uncovered a major cause of this life-threatening condition. Has published in the latest issue of Nature Communications, the result of their study shows how exactly Staph. does this.
The researchers have now shown that lipopeptides play a key role in triggering the disease and that certain staphylococcus bacteria form additional molecules - known as PSM peptides - which release these lipopeptides. Infections caused by PSM-negative staphylococci are also common, but these staphylococci do not release lipopeptides and hardly set off septicemia in experimental infections.
Knowing that only certain staphylococci release PSM peptides may help doctors to better assess how dangerous a patient's Staphylococcus strain may be. It will also enable them to develop new treatments to prevent the formation of PSM and lipopeptides, thereby avoiding severe cases of blood poisoning.

Dennis Hanzelmann, Hwang-Soo Joo, Mirita Franz-Wachtel, Tobias Hertlein, Stefan Stevanovic, Boris Macek, Christiane Wolz, Friedrich Götz, Michael Otto, Dorothee Kretschmer & Andreas Peschel, (2016)  “Toll-like receptor 2 activation depends on lipopeptide shedding by bacterial surfactants” Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms12304

Monday, 22 August 2016

Poll: People think antibiotic intake can hamper gut bacteria leading to disease

In this week's poll We The Microbiologist put a common question about how gut bacteria is linked to disease susceptibility. Votes received from options are much fascinating. People mostly think that antibiotic intake may hamper the gut microbiome leading them much resistance. Hence it can put a threat to several disease.

Gut microbime is an important component of human intestine and several researches have proved its link to several disease protection. Any change of microflora can lead to disease susceptibility. The change or hamper of microbiome can be due to several possibilities. Here is what people think:

Q) How gut bacteria link to disease susceptibilities?

1. Antibiotic intake leading to gut bacterial resistance = 42.3%
2. Type of food intake = 15.4%
3. Host's immune/genetic susceptibility = 30.8%
4. Due to bacterial infection = 11.5%

The poll statistics can be found at (download link). Please let us know what you think in the comment box below.

Please read the disclaimer here.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Genetic Engineering Machine can provide products out of Bacteria and DNA

From left to right: Karen Hogan, Guz Gutmann, Michael Hogan, and Orkan Telhan have a discussion about the new automated, self-contained, countertop genetic engineering machine, they created, in foreground. They demontrated it in a lab in the Levin Building in Philadelphia, PA on August 2, 2016. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS): Source: AJC

In an imaginary world where people drinks Milk not from cow but from yeast, the fuel filled in cars not pumped from earth’s crust but by renewable microbes and what if bricks of house cured by bacteria rather than heat. Not possible? But researchers are making ways beyond impossible. Microbial Design Studio presents a machine fit enough to perch on a table top is the perfect genetic engineering product that can provide things beyond impossible.

Orkan Telhan, assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and his colleagues devised Biorealize that can solve problems using biology. It does not require anyone to have a biology degree or large amounts of money to have this equipment.

Telhan said designers in particular “need to be able to work with organisms next to where they work with other materials. So this made us think, how can we package the different processes that are important in biological design in a small, low cost, portable (piece of) equipment, so you can see more designers using it this way?”

The equipment needs pre-packaged bacteria to be loaded and DNA on other end, to get the product on outer end. The machine is controlled by software that monitors the process of experiments within.
The machine is designed to develop “recipes” that will provide the desired outcome like proteins for medicine, microbes for industrial design, and yeast for food. Telhan claims that it can provide infinite possibilities as the machine develops.


Saturday, 20 August 2016

World's first Leprosy vaccine in India goes on trial

Source: Pixabay

There is about 60% of the global leprosy patients live in India. So it is vital for Indians to come forward with a possible solution to eradicate leprosy events. As reported recently in Times of India News from Chennai the first exclusive vaccine made in India goes on trial. It will be piloted in districts of Bihar and Gujrat in few weeks.

The disease that made 1.25 lack people cripple every year in India so the vaccine should be an important subject to be put forward in trials. If the pilot phase turns out to be satisfactory then the programme will be implicated across the country.

The vaccine mycobacterium indicus pranii or MIP will be administered to people in close contact or subjected to infection by the bacteria. "It is the first vaccine for leprosy, and India will be the first to have a large-scale vaccination programme. Trials have shown that if the vaccine is given to people in close contact with the affected, cases can be brought down by 60% in three years. It expedites cure rate if given to people with skin lesions," said Indian Council of Medical Research director general Dr Soumya Swaminathan.

The Director of National Institute of Immunology, G.P. Talwar has developed this vaccine and also got approval from DCGI and US-FDA.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Video: Three reasons why we have not rid Malaria

Malaria is life threatening disease, transmitted by female Anopheles mosquitoes. World Health Organization has reported 37% increased risk of Malaria between 2000 to 2015.

In TED Talk recently Sonia Shah, science writer explores fascinating story of three reasons why we have not rid Malaria.

Find the Video Here

Courtesy: TED


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

New type of T cell shows insights to eradicate hidden HIV pool.

Image: CDC
A specialized type of white blood cells was discovered by international team of scientists that can find hidden infected cells in tissue and can destroy them. The recent discovery published in the journal Nature Immunology can provide new insights to find new treatments for chronic infections like HIV.

The problem of chronic illness like in HIV, the virus tends to hide from the immune system. Although there are anti-retroviral drugs which are much effective but the medication is lifelong with no hope of getting cured.

Dr. Yu Di, Senior Research Fellow from Monash University, Australia who is the corresponding author of the study mentioned that T-cells are naturally produced by the body during infection; however their numbers and efficiency to kill need to be boosted to eradicate such chronic infections.
In this research, they discovered specialized killer T cells called follicular cytotoxic T cells can enter the hiding spots inside lymphoid tissue where viruses like HIV conceal themselves during treatment. This specialized T cells can eradicate this hidden virus pool.

“This discovery will help us to design new therapies that could eventually treat many different infections, including HIV,” said PhD student Leong Yew Ann, who conducted the major part of this research (as noted from Asian Scientist)

Professor Sharon Lewin who is the co-author of the study added that there are few ways the discovery could be translated to treat people from chronic infections.

“We could potentially transfer these specialized super potent killer T cells into patients, or we could treat patients with proteins that can drag these specialized killer T cells into the right spots, specifically to the hot spots where HIV can hide during antiviral treatment,” Lewin said.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Scientists discover new bacterial cell wall builders

Lines in this colorized image of Bacillus subtilis reflect the movement of a newly identified polyermase complex (including the SEDS protein) as it synthesizes hoops of bacterial cell wall material. Image: Rudner lab (Source: HMS)

Researchers from Harvard Medical School have identified a new enzyme that all bacteria use to build and maintain cell walls. The research was published recently in journal Nature. The study leaders David Rudner and Thomas Bernhardt believe that the second set of cell wall synthesizers can provide new insight of therapies by targeting harmful bacteria.

Almost half a century ago only penicillin binding proteins were known as cell wall synthesizers and until now a second family of proteins that is responsible for cell’s shape, elongation, division, and spore formation or SEDS were hidden.

To test their hypothesis that SEDS may involve in the synthesis of cell wall, Alexander Meeske, HMS graduate student and first author of the paper deleted all the penicillin binding proteins. SEDS yet continued move in much intense way. It looked like a missing enzymes. Later following experiments associating genetic and biochemical techniques confirmed that SEDS are indeed a new family of cell wall synthesizers.

Scientists also seen that two proteins SEDS and penicillin binding proteins respectively work in tandem, i.e. both are involved together in building the cell wall of bacteria. Most importantly, SEDS were more common in bacteria than penicillin binding proteins. Thus raising hopes for new potential antibiotic target.

“For a long time in the field, it was thought that one set of enzymes worked in one set of complexes to build a wall. Now we have two sets of enzymes appearing to work in different systems,” Bernhardt said. “Somehow they have to coordinate to build this netlike structure that maintains integrity and expands as the cells grow and divide.” (As reported to Elizabeth Cooney from HMS)

“Even though the history goes all the way back to the 1920s with penicillin, there’s plenty to learn,” Bernhardt said. “That’s what makes this so exciting,” Rudner said. “In this modern era of sequenced genomes, we’re still discovering new enzymes that work in this pathway.”


Monday, 15 August 2016

Poll: Prevention and Vaccine are the solutions for eradication of Ebola and Zika?

Image: WNCN

In this week's poll of the week WTM surveyed about the solution for eradication of pandemic spread of viral diseases specifically Ebola and Zika. We know that researchers have been looking for potential vaccines to eradicate this spread. But what are the actual solutions to eradicate them? We put forward this public question through social media and as well in WTM news.

Q) Solution for Eradication of pandemic viral diseases like Ebola or Zika?

Prevention = 25.0%
Vaccine = 8.9%
Both Prevention and Vaccine = 64.3%
Quarantine = 1.8%

The Poll Statistics can be found at (download link). Please let us know what you think in the comment box below.

Please read the disclaimer here.


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Video: Genetics to build new species!

Hope you are much aware about how a common man Peter Parker became Spiderman as its genetic code got changed and he started behaving more like a spider. Thanks that that this mutant has never been found naturally.

But what if genetics can be used to build species and understanding the meaning of each genes in our body work. Scientists doing the same and bringing out new inventions.

Find out more about he world's smallest known synthetic organism.

Check the video here


Engineered Microbes could reduce contamination in biofermentation plants

Image: Pixabay

The increasing cost can be significantly reduced for the production of liquid biofuels and biochemicals with a new bio-engineering technique. Microbes have been used in fermentation technique for the production of ethanol and other chemicals from cellulosic or sugar containing compound. But the leading problem is the contamination of fermentation vessels with unwanted microbes. These unwanted invaders outcompete the producer microbes and reduce nutrients and also productivity.

The solution to cleanse the fermentation vessel clear the companies used steam sterilization and for that the formation vessels has to be built with stainless steel and also to use costly antibiotics. But a recently published research from MIT and Cambridge in the journal Science have provided with a new technique that can allow producer microbes an upper hand against cost providing invaders.

The researchers engineered microbes with the ability to extract nitrogen and phosphorous which are two vital nutrients for growth from unconventional sources.

“We created microbes that can utilize some xenobiotic compounds that contain nitrogen, such as melamine,” as said by Gregory Stephanopoulos the Willard Henry Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at MIT. Melamine is a xenobiotic compound, or an artificial chemical that contains 67 percent nitrogen by weight.

In biofermentation process nitrogen is provided to producer microbes but the contaminating microbe such as Lactobacilli can extract nitrogen from ammonium and compete producer microbes. But in the genetically modified organism they do not have pathways that can use melamine as nitrogen source and hence their growth stops.

The genetic engineering was coupled in the well known adapter microbe called E. coli with six-step pathway that allows converting melamine to ammonia and carbon dioxide. It used cyanamide as its sole nitrogen source.

Source: MIT News


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Early microbial exposure is a protection from Asthma

Image: Pixabay

The Amish Community has been known for the modern technologies and their life style, significantly using horses for farming and for transport. Now in closer look the people in that community have unexpected benefit that can prevent asthma in children. A new study by US scientists published their report at The New England Journal of Medicine that children’s immune system in Amish Community was bolstered with house dust that contains more microbes as brought by farm animals.

The researchers compared their study between the Amish Community and Hutterites who use more modern farming methods. Both of them have similar genetic ancestry and also follow similar diets so what’s the difference? There are about 21.3% of Hutterite children are more prone to Asthma than 5$ of Amish Children.

The study echoes the thoughts that lack of early exposure to microbes due to modern hygiene increases the risk of allergy. The dust in the home is much richer with microbes.

"Neither the Amish nor the Hutterites have dirty homes," said study co-author Carole Ober, professor and chairman of human genetics at the University of Chicago. "Both are tidy. The Amish barns, however, are much closer to their homes. Their children run in and out of them, often barefoot, all day long. There's no obvious dirt in the Amish homes, no lapse of cleanliness. It's just in the air and in the dust." – As said to BBC.

In a test of about 30 Amish Children had more neutrophils that are crucial for fighting infections and fewer eosinophils that lead to allergic response. Laboratory mice while exposed to Amish dust were also protected from Asthma.

"We hope that our findings will allow the identification of relevant substances that will lead to completely novel strategies to prevent asthma and allergy," said co-author of the paper, Erika von Mutius, Professor at Dr von Hauner Children's Hospital in Munich.

Source: BBC News

Monday, 8 August 2016

Tuberculosis born out of fire! Is it?

Image Source: The Atlantic

Thousands of years ago cave men started using fire for light, cooking foods or keeping themselves warm. So where there is fire there is smoke, and smoke leading to often cough. In the flamed airways there are some microbes in the soil takes the hold by changing and evolving. This is according to Rebecca Chisholm and Mark Tanaka, the biologists from University of New South Wales leading the possible history of oldest human disease – tuberculosis.

The agent is Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the disease was formally known as consumption has been reported to plague people for tens of thousands of years. Even some scars of infection linger on mummies. Today it is known to kill 1.5 million people each year more than other deadlier dieases.

The most important note is that humans were the first to get infected with tuberculosis and known to transfer this infection to animals like cows, rodents, etc. So how it came and hit us? M. tuberculosis comes from the lineage of microbes called mycobacteria which lives in soil and water. They were harmless and sometimes become opportunistic.

“It has to evolve to become transmissible between people,” reasons Tanaka. “That can be a really slow process if it doesn’t infect people very often. So maybe there’s a factor that accelerates this process, that gives the bacterium multiple chances to evolve.” – as reported to The Atlantic.
“Fire is a pretty good candidate,” he added. When one inhales the particles in smoke can lead to respiratory dieases and prevent the immune system to clear away the accumulated microbes. As we know fire brings people together and that might also be the chance for the bacterium for getting in touch to new hosts.

For now, this is just a hypothesis. But it’s “really interesting and thought-provoking”, says Caitlin Pepperell, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who studies the evolution of human disease. “It’s plausible because smoke inhalation is so damaging to the lung’s innate immune system—our first line of defense against tuberculosis. Perhaps the bacteria that breached this defense had an easier time of it from that point on. Smoke inhalation also increases coughing and could enhance TB transmission.”

Source: The Atlantic

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Poll: Will bacteria replace GMOs to satisfy global food demand?

Image source: Health dot com (blog)

In Poll of the Week we surveyed what students, researchers or professors think about the global food demand. With the increasing global food demand there is an increase in GMOs which was much debatable. Some soil bacteria also competing the race and also found useful in cultivation of healthy crops. So here is the question we put forward through facbook polls and also in WTM News website.

Q) Will bacteria replace GMPs t satisfy global food demand?

Yes = 20%
No = 37.5%
May be = 42.5%

The poll statistics can be found at (download link). Please let us know what you think in the comments box below.

Please read the disclaimer here.

Related articles


Saturday, 6 August 2016

The 'Red gene' in turtles and birds provide evidence about dinosaurs' vision

Image Courtesy: Cambridge University

A gene that is responsible for red colour vision originated in the lineage of reptiles 250million years ago has resulted in bright red coloured feathers and painted beautiful turtles we see today. This might be the evidence that dinosaurs could able to see many shades of reds and might have displayed more red than we think of.

This new research published from University of Cambridge on 3rd of August 2016 at the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society provide enough evidence that the ‘red gene’ has originated  250million years ago. It predicts the split of turtle lineage from archosaur line and runs way through turtle and bird evolution.

Scientists believe that during this dinosaur split they would have carried CYP2J19 gene and had enchanced the red division from the red retinal oil. This is the same red pigment that helps some birds and turtles today although researchers say this to be more speculative.

“These findings are evidence that the red gene originated in the archelosaur lineage to produce red for colour vision, and was much later independently deployed in both birds and turtles to be displayed in the red feathers and shells of some species, going from seeing red to being red,” says senior author Dr Nick Mundy, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology. 

“The excellent red spectrum vision provided by the CYP2J19 gene would help female birds and turtles pick the brightest red males,” says Hanlu Twyman, the PhD student who is lead author on the work.


Friday, 5 August 2016

Bacteria teeming in shower head and Scientists wish to study them

Shower is the place where we clean ourselves but still the showerhead is still teeming with microbes. Scientists are now recruiting people across US who are willing to participate to provide samples from their showers so that they can catalogue which bacteria are present.

“We’re interested in the microbes inside your home,” Noah Fierer, a microbial ecologist at the University of Colorado reported to Kate Lunau, Editor of Motherboard.

In a paper published from the group in 2015, described about what they found in household dust. “We had thousands of people across the US sample the dust on the door trim in their homes,” he said. “And you see all sorts of patterns.”

The bacterial community inside house that lives on household dust differs from home to home and people residing like male to female ratio, pets, etc. “Of course, there are allergens and pathogens, things we don’t want in our home,” Fierer said. “But a lot of organisms fall into the grey area. They’re probably harmless,” and some of them might be important to helping develop our immune system.

One of the bug that might be of important concern is Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) which was found in household plumbing and can able to cause lung infections. This also found in the showerheads across the country but although the disease cases associated with this bacterium is less reported.

Researchers are now planning ahead with DNA sequencing and other analysis of the samples and everyone who participates it will get the update of the bacteria they have in their showerhead.

“A microbe that’s beneficial to one person may be dangerous to another”

Source: Motherboard

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pricking new antibiotic from nose microbe

Like our gut our nose is also an ambush for microorganisms, where gut is flooded with food but nose is a wasteland. Resources are scare but competition is fierce and so nasal microbes fight with each other and kill with specific antibiotics. May be from those killers we might recruit useful weapons.

Researchers from University of Tübingen have found such a weapon or chemical drug called lugdunin. It is produced by the bacterium that already dwelling in our noses and able to kill microbes like Staphylococcus aureus. It is chemically unrelated to previous known antibiotics and hence we can welcome a new member in antibiotic family.

“It is the founding member of a new class of antimicrobial compounds,” says Andreas Peschel, who led the study.

Scientists look at this new chemical and might take years from now to launch it as clinical drug after it follows multiple tests. A new antibiotic is almost a new regiment always required to defeat antibiotic resistance in many bacteria.

Our body has different ecosystem considering bacterial adaptation. Looking at nose which is nutrient depriving and much competitive for bacterial survival, so it was obvious to see bacteria using their weapons to bring down others. One amongst such was Staphylococcus lugdunensis from which lugdunin was isolated. The chemical has an unusual structure and its mode of killing is still a smudge.
In relatively low concentrations it was found promising to kill drug resistance S. aureus and Enterococcus, and also number of other disease causing bacteria.

Source: The Atlantic

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