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Thursday, 27 October 2016

A Pathogenic Fungus grown in Space

Growing fungus outside Earth's Atmosphere. Image: Pixabay

Now escaping earth’s atmosphere has led our research advancement more clear to cross most boundaries. But this time it is not Astronauts but microbes visiting space. A new study published in mSphere provided evidence that Aspergillus fumigatus which is a threat to humans can grow and behave similarly on International Space Station compared to Earth. The research is the next step ahead about life in space.
In one of the mission of Microbial Observatory Experiments on International Space Station is to examine fungal traits and their isolates to have a better understanding about fungal adaptation to microgravity. In this new study, led by Benjamin Knox, a graduate Microbiology student from University of Wisconsin-Madison, scientists compared two isolates of the fungi that were isolated from International Space Station to reference isolates from Earth.
The in vivo and in vitro genetic analysis revealed no such genetic differences among the isolates, and even they exhibited normal in vitro growth and chemical stress tolerance. The strains in space were slightly more lethal in vertebrate models.
“While we observed virulence differences, we speculate that it is completely within the variation that one would observe with terrestrial isolates,” said Mr. Knox to American Society of Microbiology. “There is an emerging body of literature showing a terrific phenotypic variation in A. fumigatus.”
Source:  ASM


ProQ protein the Third RNA Binding Protein Identified in Bacteria.

Small regulatory RNA molecules are vital for salmonella and other bacteria potentially harmful to humans: This RNA type controls gene activity and allows bacteria to quickly adjust to changing conditions of living and stress as are typical during an infection, for example, when entering the blood stream or inside human cells. Pathogenic bacteria use small RNA molecules to adapt to their environment. Infection researchers from Würzburg have now pinpointed a protein involved in regulating the activity of these molecules. Small regulatory RNA molecules are vital for salmonella and other bacteria potentially harmful to humans: This RNA type controls gene activity and allows bacteria to quickly adjust to changing conditions of living and stress as are typical during an infection, for example, when entering the blood stream or inside human cells.

Professor Jörg Vogel, head of the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, is a pioneer in researching small regulatory RNA molecules. He and his team are determined to get to the bottom of how these molecules work and act. His works could also show new ways to fight pathogens. New findings from Vogel's team have now been published in the journal PNAS: So far, two proteins (Hfg and CsrA) have been known to bind closely to the bacteria's regulatory RNA molecules and influence their activities. Using a new self-designed method, the Würzburg team has now discovered a long-suspected third protein (ProQ) whose function inside the cell has been unknown until recently.

Experiments showed that the ProQ protein binds to 98 regulatory RNAs of the enterobacterial Salmonella enterica. The bacterium has been found to have around 300 such RNAs in total. Moreover, ProQ seems to have specialised in RNA molecules with a rather complex structure. This protein and the RNA molecules that bind to it represent a largely unresearched class of gene activity regulators in the bacterial "RNA universe". "It will be particularly exciting to find out how ProQ is able to pinpoint the highly structured RNAs among millions of other RNA molecules in a cell," says Jörg Vogel. These results have been reported in PNAS by the Würzburg professor together with Alexandre Smirnov, Konrad Förstner, Erik Holmqvist and Regina Günster as well as colleagues from Greifswald and Cologne. Considered highly significant for bacterial research, the new findings are featured in the journal's "Research Highlight" section.

                                                          source: google Image

A new technique developed by the JMU team has successfully tracked down the activities of the ProQ protein. "The methods available so far were subject to certain limits with regard to detecting and generally classifying RNA protein interactions which we have overcome here," Professor Vogel further. Since the new method can basically be applied to any other organism, it is expected to provide more progress in researching regulatory RNA.

Article: Grad-seq guides the discovery of proQ as a major small RNA-binding proteine:  doi: 10.1073/pnas.1609981113, 


Recent work in the Journal of Molecular Biology has described how advances in technology and biology could produce a three-dimensional computer model of cells, something that has so far been elusive. Such a development could revolutionize biomedical research and have tremendous impact on human and animal health and well being.

                                              Images maybe subject to copyright: Google Image

"Cells are the foundation of life," explained one co-author of the paper, Ilya Vakser, a Professor of Computational Biology and Molecular Biosciences and Director of the Center for Computational Biology at the University of Kansas. "Recently, there has been tremendous progress in biomolecular modeling and advances at understanding life at the molecular level. Now, the focus is shifting to larger systems -- up to the level of the entire cell. We're trying to capture this emerging milestone development in computational structural biology, which is the tectonic shift from modeling individual biomolecular processes to modeling the entire cell."

The study reviews a variety of techniques that aim at simulating a 3D cell; the investigations of complex biological networks, automated 3D cell model creation using experimental data, the modeling of protein interactions and protein complex formation, modeling of cell membranes and the kinetic and thermodynamic impacts of crowding on those membranes, and the architecture of chromosomes are all included.

"A lot of techniques that are required for this are already available -- it's just a matter of putting them all together in a coherent strategy to address this problem," explained Vakser. "It's hard because we're just beginning to understand the principal mechanisms of life at the molecular level -- it looks extremely complicated but doable, so we're moving very fast -- not only in our ability to understand how it works at the molecular level but to model it."
These disparate techniques can be woven together, say the authors. Taken together, the methods can enable a better "understanding of life at the molecular level and lead to important applications to biology and medicine."

"There are two major benefits," Vakser continued. "One is our fundamental understanding of how a cell works. You can't claim you understand a phenomenon if you can't model it. So this gives us insight into basic fundamentals of life at the scale of an entire cell. On the practical side, it will give us an improved grasp of the underlying mechanisms of diseases and also the ability to understand mechanisms of drug action, which will be a tremendous boost to our efforts at drug design. It will help us create better drug candidates, which will potentially shorten the path to new drugs."
Such a 3D cell model could be applicable to many fields. The work that has been done leading to this point has varied levels of precision; in some cases there may be more work to be done in order to understand how various parts of the cell relate to one another.

"We've made advances in our ability to model protein interactions," he said. "The challenge is to put it in context of the cell, which is a densely populated milieu of different proteins and other biomolecular structures. To make the transition from a dilute solution to realistic environment encountered in the cell is probably the greatest challenge we're facing right now."
For now, Vakser suggests work focus on the modeling of straightforward, single-celled organisms. More complex cell types could be developed in the future.

"We go for the simplest cell possible. There are small prokaryotic cells, which involve minimalistic set of elements that are much simpler than the bigger and more complicated cells in mammals, including humans," he said. "We're trying to cut our teeth on the smallest possible cellular organisms first, then will extrapolate into more complicated cells."

s : University of Kansas, Journal of Molecular Biology 


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Video: Smart Phone Microscope Game can let your microbes play PAC-Man and Soccer

Kim et. al., 2016 (Plos One)

A 3D printed microscope has turned the scientific observation into a video game. LudusScope which is a smart phone microscope designed by Stanford University researchers could be a cheap way to allow kids to investigate the microscopic lives. The creators published their research in the journal Plos One.

The LudusScope has 3D printed Microscope with LED lights and a joystick as control. A smartphone owner can keep their phone positioned on the eye piece of the microscope. An Android software (whose code is easily accessible over GitHub) allow to play games by superimposing images over the slide so as instance as if bacteria are playing over the soccer field.

As microbes respond to light, one can guide their movements with LEDs. Most importantly the software is able to track the movements and real time speed of Euglena. There are added programmes which are purely educational allowing to collect data about microorganism’s behaviour.
Using the supplementary notes to the paper one can easily build their own kit too.

Source: Mental Floss

Engineered Microbes can make Bioplastics now can replace Non-biodegradable Plastics for Tomorrow!

Culture of Lactobacillus casei, a bacteria that produces lactic acid (CC 2.0 AJC) and the chemical steps to go from lactic acid to lactide and then polylactic acid. (Courtesy: LabBiotech)

Carbios made a breakthrough by making bioplastic and those too using microbes. The lactic acid is used as molecular building blocks for such plastic but now this methodology can be used to build plastics from scratch by microbes.

There are several kinds of bioplastics are now available in the market. Polylactic acid (PLA) is one such kind of bioplastic and its monomers can be biosourced. Lactic acid which is the building block can be produced itself by bacteria with fermentation.

Still the bioplastic requires require chemical processes to link the monomers together, i.e. it needs an enormous intermediate step to condense them to lactide. After this the compound needs to be purified and polymerized to form PLA.

Now Carbios allows the engineered microbe to convert the whole process directly.  The technological breakthrough allows the original metabolic pathway to be carefully engineered into the bacteria to provide a 100 percent PLA polymer with high molecular weight.

This green technology can grow and estimated to increase by 28% until 2018 replacing non-biodegradable plastics.

Source:  LabBiotech

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Beard or No Beard? Who harbor more bacteria? The result might let you think twice!

Image: Pixabay

Bacteria are everywhere and even creeping inside beards. But these bacteria can potentially develop new antibiotics according to a new study identifies. Researchers found that men who are clean shave are more prone to harbor infectious bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics than the bearded men.

The study published in early 2016 in the Journal of Hospital Infection where an inspection of tested swabs collected from faces of 408 hospital staff including both bearded and clean shave individuals.
According to their results, clean shaven individuals are three times more likely to carry methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA) on their cheeks. Staphylococcus aureus was shown 10 percent more colonies to support on clean shave individuals, the bacterium which causes skin and respiratory infections and also food poisoning.

Researchers pointed that shaving supports bacterial colonization and active proliferation. Overall colonization is similar among healthcare individuals with and without facial hairs, but certain bacterial species are more actively growing on clean shave individuals.

Dr. Adam Roberts, a microbiologist from University College London grew 100 different bacteria in this research to perform each separate analysis. In his research petri dish he found that some bacteria is able to kill other bacteria.

Dr. Roberts isolated that bacteria and grown against pathogenic E. coli which causes urinary tract infections and found bacterium can kill it efficiently too.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Dual Research explains How Gut Bacteria can Protect against Harmful Invading Microbe

The researchers performed experiments in C. elegans worms infected with Salmonella bacteria. In this cross section of a worm, the rod-shaped microbes have invaded the animal's intestine, highlighted in purple. Credit: The Rockefeller University Source: Medical Express

Antibiotics have been saving millions of lives but the growing problem of antibiotic resistance now reflecting its downside; on the other side probiotics which are beneficial microorganisms which provides benefits of antibiotics avoiding any pitfalls. The mechanism of such probiotics is still poorly understood. A research that published in the journals Science and Immunology by researchers at The Rockefeller University pointed out the factual answer.

Their study explains how the enzymes produced by intestinal bacteria protect us from the gut worms and their harmful invasions. These findings together can open an opportunity to develop probiotics that can be used against harmful bacteria like Clostridium difficile.

Researchers in Science paper set out to investigate about the probiotic potential of Enterococcus faecium in the study model roundworm Caenorhabdis elegans. E. faecium has long been known to be a probiotic for livestock but their mode of action was still a smudge. In a series of experiments proved that E. faecium inhibits the harmful effects of infection by Salmonella typhimurium. It can able to grow but not causing tissue damage to the worms.

Additionally a protein called SagA produced by E. faecium is able to protect the worm and mice from Salmonella.

On the other paper of Science Immunology, researchers not only explained how E. faecium protected mice from S. typhimurium but also demonstrated how E. faecium prevented the pathogen to bypass the intestinall epithelium to attack other organs like Liver.

Added Reading:


Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Microorganisms sometimes form aggregation in which they attach to a surface and begin to grow into a colony. This colony formation is called a BIOFILM whereby cells stick to each other and sometimes, produce a matrix the microbes reside in. Biofilms can be found in several places such as, on our teeth, inside our digestive tract, as well as inside of medical equipment like catheters and not only on slimy rocks.

Normally, Biofilms are harmless, but when infections occur they can have devastating health consequences. This is because of the difficulty in observing them and treatment is not by anyway easy. A professor at University of California Merced’s School of Natural Sciences and the Health Sciences Research Institute, Clarissa Nobile, is working on that problem. She studies Candida albicans, a microbe that creates the biofilms that can result in yeast infections in and on the human body. While C. albicans is a normal resident of the human microbiome, it is capable of causing infection that range from mild to deadly. From a publication by Nobile and her research team they revealed that they have succeeded in visualizing biofilms inside the body using bioluminescent markers. "C. albicans infections can be really dangerous," explained Nobile. "They can form inside us on any mucosal surface, or on implanted medical devices like artificial heart valves, catheters or pacemakers. They are drug-resistant, making it extremely difficult to get rid of a biofilm inside the body. Right now, we can treat the symptoms, but we can't get rid of the biofilm unless we remove the medical device it has formed on."

Their publication describes how the biomarkers can detect the enzymes that degrade other proteins, called proteases. Those proteases are Sap5 (Candidapepsin-5) and Sap6 (Candidapepsin-6) and when they are either removed or destroyed, a biofilm does not form or forms improperly, thus preventing a stubborn infection. Nobile’s lab utilizes biochemical, genetic and microbiological tools to investigate the relationships between microbial species that are found in humans. While previous research usually stayed focused on a single microbe or pathogen, Nobile’s work aims to study the complex network of microorganisms and how they affect one another. Her lab also works in collaboration with her company, Biosynesis Inc. They are working on developing diagnostics that will make testing for problematic biolfilms formed by pathogenic microbes easier.
From the entrepreneurial side of it they hope their new technology can be used to identify other pathogens as well. "It's fun to work on the entrepreneurial side of this," Nobile commented. "This is a situation where the basic science translates into a real-world application." Nobile won a Pew Scholar Award last year; and she is the first UC Merced faculty member to win the prize. It provides four years of funding to new investigators that pursue high-risk, high-reward research that has the potential to lead to amazing advances in biology.

Sources: Phys (dot) org via University of California 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Breast Microbiome: some Prevents while other Causes Cancer

Getty images

Its long been known hoe bacteria has been a common dweller on and within us, but bacteria that live in women’s breast tissue have equally important health effect according to a study that published recently in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The results highlights about the bacteria that are present even in low amounts have dual responsibilities in breast cancer – either increasing risk in some or decreasing risk in others.

Epidemiology suggests that at least one in eight women in US is diagnosed with breast cancer but the origin still remains in vague. Often factors like age, genetic predisposition and some environmental challenges are implicated for the reason of cancer, but now bacteria can also be an added reason under environment factors. Earlier research has provided clues that breast-feeding can lower the risk of cancer and this may be because of breast milk that supports growth of some beneficial microorganisms.

Researchers hunted for bacterial DNA analyzed from breast tissue samples of 58women who were undergoing lumpectomies and mastectomies for either benign or cancerous tumours. They also included 23 healthy participants who were undergoing breast reductions or enhancements. Women who were at a risk of breast cancer have higher levels of Enterobacteriaceae, Bacillus, and Staphylococcus. On the other hand, women who were healthy have other types of bacteria, especially Lactococcus and Streptococcus.

So how these bacteria actually instigate cancer? Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus are involved in DNA damage which is a known route for developing cancer; while other bacteria trigger inflammation. For now researchers are looking forward for animal studies to indentify the exact mechanism.


Monday, 10 October 2016

Poll: Science show is having increase importance among students

Virtual learning experience has been fascinating and has shown its growing importance among students, researchers and learners.  In this week poll we asked people about their habit of listening or following virtual science shows which includes podcasts, video lessons, interactive discussion shows, etc.

Here is the result:

(Click on the picture to enlarge)
In inclusion it must be said that most students prefer virtual learning and interactive science. What do you think? Please do share your comments in the comment box below.

The Poll Statistics can be found at (download link).



Bengt Westermark and colleagues have asserted that the cell line considered to be the most commonly used in brain cancer research is different from the original patient tumor from which it was derived. They were the first to establish the cell line almost 50 years ago. According to the authors, the publicly available cell line, which has been used in more than 1,700 publications, appears to be a type of glioma cell line, likely a glioblastoma, of unknown origin.
This particular case of mistaken identity, among others, shines a spotlight on misidentification or contamination of cell lines as a long-standing quality-control issue that imperils the reproducibility of scientific experiments and the overall field of translational research. In 1968, Westermark and his team established U87MG, a glioma cell line that has since been made available commercially in repositories, such as the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC). The authors suspect that U87MG is the most popular cell line created, with roughly 200 studies published in 2015 alone.
Using forensic and mitochondrial DNA profiling to trace U87MG's origin, Westermark and his colleague questions the authenticity of the cell line. This analysis revealed that the origin of the cell line is different from that of the original tumor, pointing to a potential cross-contamination. The researchers also looked at the genetic signature of U87MG, comparing its similarity to a large database of cancer cell lines. Results confirmed that the cells originated from the Central Nervous System (CNS).  These finding has brought to the forefront need to authenticate cell lines in order to produce more consistent scientific research. To address this important issue, authors call on the research community to move away from "classical" cell lines like U87MG in favor of verified glioma cell lines grown in proper conditions, which tend to be more representative of the tumor of origin.

Source: Science Translational Medicine


Many countries across Africa and Asia-Pacific may be vulnerable to Zika Virus  outbreaks, with India, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh expected to be at greatest risk of Zika virus transmission due to a combination of high travel volumes from Zika affected areas in the Americas, local presence of mosquitos capable of transmitting Zika virus, suitable climatic conditions, large populations and/or limited health resources, according to a new modelling study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The authors says that identifying where and when populations would be most susceptible to local transmission of Zika virus could help inform public health decisions about the use of finite resources.
"An estimated 2.6 billion people live in areas of Africa and Asia-Pacific where the local mosquito species and suitable climatic conditions mean that local Zika virus transmission is theoretically possible. However, there are still many unknowns about the virus and how it spreads, including which local species of mosquito are most capable of transmitting the virus, and whether immunity exists in areas that have previously reported cases of Zika virus. The impact on populations will also depend heavily on the country's ability to diagnose and respond to a possible outbreak," says study author Dr Kamran Khan, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

 "Warmer temperatures in the northern hemisphere (when mosquitos are more active) increase the risk of new outbreaks appearing outside of the Americas. The potential for epidemics to occur in parts of Africa and the Asia-Pacific region is particularly concerning given that the vast numbers of people who could be exposed to Zika virus are living in environments where health and human resources to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemics are limited. Our findings could offer valuable information to support time-sensitive public health decision-making at local, national, and international levels," he added.
In this study, the research team, which included scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Oxford University (UK) and the University of Toronto (Canada), established the ecological niche for Zika virus in the Americas (where Zika virus transmission has been reported or where conditions are suitable). At the time of the analysis, local transmission of Zika virus had been confirmed in 40 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean (at the time, no cases of local transmission had been reported in the USA). The researchers then gathered data on airline ticket sales from all 689 cities with one or more airports in the region travelling to Africa or Asia-Pacific over a whole year (Dec 2014 to Nov 2015).
The research team then modelled three different scenarios of seasonal suitability for mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus. The first, which modelled monthly suitability for dengue virus transmission, produced the most conservative geographic region of risk. The second also included areas with Aedes aeqypti occurrence and the third included both A. aeqypti and A. albopictus occurrence - these scenarios each increased the size of the region at risk.
In addition, the team mapped the monthly volume of travelers arriving into Africa and Asia-Pacific in order to identify countries at greatest risk of Zika virus importation across seasons. Health expenditure per capita was used as a proxy of a country's capacity to detect and effectively respond to a possible Zika virus outbreak.
Countries with large volumes of travellers arriving from Zika virus-affected areas of the Americas and large populations at risk include India (67422 travellers arriving per year; 1.2 billion residents in potential Zika transmission areas), China (238415 travellers; 242 million residents), Indonesia (13865 travellers; 197 million residents), the Philippines (35635 travellers; 70 million residents), and Thailand (29241 travellers; 59 million residents).
Of the countries with the largest at risk populations, the authors suggest that India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh might be most vulnerable to impact because of their limited per capita health resources.

While the analysis emphasises the potential for human infection via mosquitos, sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is now well documented. The authors say that travellers returning from affected areas would benefit from health education to prevent sexual transmission.
The authors note a number of limitations and assumptions. Firstly, understanding about the efficiency of A. albopictus to transmit Zika virus is still evolving and the study did not include other Aedes species such as A. africanus or A. Hensilli, which could prove capable vectors in particular regions. Importantly, the health consequences of imported Zika virus will depend on local ability to diagnose and respond to a possible outbreak, but will also depend on possible underlying levels of immunity to Zika virus. Although sporadic cases of Zika virus have been reported in both Africa and Asia-Pacific, the breadth and extent of previous infection with Zika virus remains unknown, and it is not known whether the current Asian strain of the virus (seen in the Americas) will affect individuals differently if they have previously been infected with the African strain.
Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Abraham Goorhuis and Professor Martin P Grobusch, Center of Tropical Medicine and Travel Medicine, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands say: "An important prerequisite for the occurrence of large-scale epidemics is the presence of an immunologically naive human population. This is a big unknown in the high-risk countries identified, because urgently needed reliable seroprevalence studies are in short supply. Bogoch and colleagues assume low levels of pre-existing immunity, which in their study translates into a worst-case scenario. This assumption might be true and therefore, vigilance is needed. A best-case scenario would be the existence of previously unknown widespread Zika virus immunity in Asia and Africa. Such immunity could potentially exist if Zika virus infections in the past were not diagnosed, either because they were asymptomatic or because symptomatic infections were misdiagnosed due to their clinical similarity to other (arboviral) tropical infectious diseases. The development of protective herd immunity at a young age would also protect pregnant women against foetal complications. Under such a scenario, the risk of large Zika virus epidemics in Asia and Africa would be low, despite the introduction of the virus by infected travellers."
(The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.)

Kamran Khan, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(16)30270-5


Different factors play a role in the immune recovery of HIV patients. A study coordinated by a Spanish Research Institutes has found out that gut bacteria also play their role in the immune recovery.
Researchers from the University of Valencia (UV) have taken part in a study analysing the influence of gut bacteria on immune recovery in HIV-infected patients undergoing antiretroviral treatment (ART). They have discovered a correlation between immune recovery and the behaviour of a certain subset of gut bacteria in response to treatment. The findings identified that the behaviour appears to be both a consequence and a cause of recovery.
The implications of this finding are that new complementary therapies could be developed that target these bacteria to boost the efficiency of ART and prevent the complications associated with immune deficiency and chronic inflammation. 
"HIV patients suffer from persistent immune deficiencies and chronic intestinal inflammation caused, in part, by the very toxins released by the cells to fight off the HIV infection. In this study we have found that, in some patients, certain gut bacteria become activated during ART and begin to amass anti-inflammatory molecules", explains CSIC researcher Manuel Ferrer of the Catalysis Institute. The immune recovery of these "ART responders" is much better than that of their peers, the make-up and behaviour of whose gut bacteria does not lead to the same anti-inflammatory effect.
In the study, the researchers analysed the gut bacteria found in the faecal matter of healthy subjects and HIV patients undergoing different intensities of infection control and immune recovery. Specifically, they studied the activity levels of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (the intestinal flora).
The results suggest a correlation between bacterial activity and immune response as a consequence of HIV and antiretroviral treatment. "The make-up and behaviour of the gut bacteria of HIV patients whose body responds adequately to antiretroviral are different to those who respond less well to treatment. It is possible that the reason why some subjects respond better to antiretroviral is because their immune system is predisposed to these beneficial, recovery-enabling bacteria," adds researcher Sergio Serrano-Villar at Hospital Ramón y Cajal.
In essence, gut bacteria appear to play a role in successful immune recovery in HIV-infected individuals. Antiretroviral treatments could therefore have a greater impact on HIV patients' health if combined with therapies that target this subset of bacteria. "The design of new probiotic foods could be an option, for instance" (Ferrer).

The results of the study, published in eBioMedicine journal, could help in the design of new therapies for the prevention of complications associated with immune-depression and chronic inflammation, such as diseases associated with ageing that appear earlier and more frequently in people with HIV. And in extension put credence to usage of probiotics for varying treatment. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Fungus makes Mosquitoes vulnerable to Malaria

Image from pixabay

Mosquitoes that are infected by fungus are more vulnerable towards malaria parasite. A recent research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported it recently. Mosquitoes like humans are continuously get exposed to different kinds of microorganisms, and among these fungi with bacteria can affect the health of mosquitoes.

Previously, researchers have identified that bacteria prevent the parasite to be taken up by the mosquitoes, but the recent research has turned the table. This is the first time they have found that mosquitoes instead become much vulnerable to be infected with malaria parasite. The findings were published in September 28th 2016 in Scientific reports.

"This very common, naturally occurring fungus may have a significant impact on malaria transmission: It doesn't kill the mosquitoes, it doesn't make them sick, it just makes them more likely to become infected and thereby to spread the disease," says the study's leader George Dimopoulos, PhD, MBA, a professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School and a deputy director of its Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. "While this fungus is unlikely to be helpful as part of a malaria control strategy, our finding significantly advances our knowledge of the different factors that influence the transmission of malaria." (from press release)

Dimopoulos and his colleagues isolated Penicillium chrysogenum fungus which is the same fungus which produces penicillin, from the gut of Anopheles mosquitoes (field caught). They identified that its presence made mosquitoes susceptible to take up the parasite as vector. Fungus here plays a role to compromise the immune system and allowing the parasite much easy access to infect.

"We have questions we hope this finding will help us to answer including why do we have increased transmission of malaria in some areas and not others when the presence of mosquitoes is the same," Dimopoulos says. "This gives us another piece of the complicated malaria puzzle."

Source: News Medical

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Risk of loosing Healthy Microbes for Patients admitted to ICU

News from Washington DC mentions patients who are admitted to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) have differences in microbiome than of healthy patients. The research published in the journal mSphere. Researchers analyzed the ICU patients’ microbial taxa from guts to see drastic microbial imbalance and getting worse with the length of stay. On comparison to healthy people, ICU patients had depleted microbial populations especially commensial and helpful health promoting microbes. Instead there were higher counts of pathogenic strains. This made patients vulnerable to hospital acquired infections.

It is normally inferred previously that loosing microbes could make one person healthier but the recent research turned the table opposite.

Paul Wischmeyer, an anaesthesiologist at University of Colorado School of Medicine noted that the treatments used in ICU, such as application of powerful courses of antibiotics, medicines for maintaining blood preassure and lack of nutrition are the factors that can provoke the reduction of healthy bacteria.

Wischmeyer and his colleagues analyzed microbiomes collected from skin, stool and oral samples across 115 ICU patients from four hospitals of USA and Canada. They analyzed once in 48hours and then again after 10days in ICU. They also recorded the habitat in between the stay like the food they eat, treatments they receive, etc.

The result was compared with healthy subset of people who participated in American gut project dataset. According to their analysis, they found lower numbers of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes which are the largest commensials in gut, whereas there are larger increase in Proteobacteria that includes pathogens.

Now as the researchers have begun to understand how the microbiome changes in ICU, Wischmeyer’s next step is to identify treatments and possibly probiotics can able to restore the bacterial balance in patients.


Monday, 3 October 2016

Poll: Developing countries are running for fast publication than innovative thought.

Running for scientific publication than searching innovative answers.

Science exploration is important globally but also depends upon how we try to explore them and how it can be communicated into applications. There are several factors why developing countries might be facing problems to flourish their scientific reports. In this week of poll we addressed questions to public especially students from Microbiology and different scientific backgrounds about why developing countries are still lagging about scientific exploration.

The results seems to be interesting.

So most people think that students or researchers run for fast publication than thinking about innovations. Let us know what you think in the comment box below.

The poll statistics can be found at (download link).

Please read the disclaimer here.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Are your Gut Bacteria making you Obese?

More the diversity fat better is your health (Pic Source: BBC/Science Photo Library)
Bacteria have been involved everywhere; some of them are known to be useful and some are pathogenic. So among the bad guys there are some bacteria found in human faeces may involved in increasing the levels of dangerous fat in our body according to the new research published by the King’s College London researchers.

The analysis from stool samples of more than 3600 twins has revealed that bacteria can also be inherited. So the contents of faeces bacteria can unfold the mystery of obesity passing down in families.

The research was published recently in the journal Genome Biology.

The researchers studied the different kinds of microbiota isolated from the faeces and compared the results with six different measures of obesity, which also includes the study of body mass index (BMI) and types of body fat.

The outcome of the experiment shown evidences of possible link between visceral fat with gut bacteria, where higher diversity of bacteria in faeces had lower levels of visceral fat. The bad news is that the visceral fat is stored in the stomach area and push higher risk towards cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Dr. Michelle Beaumont who is the lead author of the study proposed that the possibility of this link could be due to the lack of diversifying gut bacteria thus leading domination of certain gut microbes which are turning the carbohydrates to fat.

The possible solution to this is taking broad kind of diet and this can help us to diversify the bacteria in gut.

Source: BBC News

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