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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Microbiome – You Need to Work for Yours.

A lot of people do not know that you can actually change what lives in your gut? The gut microbiome consists of the community of trillions of bacteria living in the digestive tract. In fact, 80% of your immune system is in your microbiome, which affects just about every process, including digestion, thinking clearly and maintaining a healthy weight.
However, when we think of the slow changes and timely adjustments to change our eating habits, our weight, our sleep patterns, and more that usually take months to benefit from, most would assume that changing the microbiome in the gut would be just another time-consuming dedicated process. This is not really so. The average lifespan of a bacterium in our microbiome is 20 minutes! So you have the opportunity every time you eat to begin to change the population of your gut microbiome.
There are several factors that contribute to a healthy gut microbiome, including environment, exercise, sleep, and stress. But the number one factor that determines what microbes live in our gut (and which ones die off) is our diet. By supporting your microbiome with the foods that are healthy for you, the microbiota living in your gut will get better at absorbing and processing nutrients that can affect weight loss, digestion and overall health.

Adapted from Jennifer Ellis


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Survival strategies of bacteria in oxygen deprived environment.

Bacteria are known to exit in colonies, called biofilms, which enable them to live in harsh conditions and to resist antibiotics efficiently. One such bacterial species known to survive as biofilms and thrive in oxygen deprived environment is Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  They are the leading cause of death for people suffering from cystic fibrosis. The bacteria are known to adopt several strategies for subsistence in oxygen-less environment. They produce molecules known as phenazines that help them shuttle electrons from inside to outside of the cell  to the oxygen available at a distance. Another strategy is to make alternative versions of terminal oxidases (enzymes that transport electrons to oxygen) in low oxygen concentration conditions.

Jeanyong Jo and his team from the University of Columbia and with funding from the National Institute of Health have found that a part of the terminal oxidase, called the CcoN4 protein, help the bacteria to thrive well in low oxygen environment and to make them resistant to antibiotics as well.They have also found that this protein plays a major role in optimal utilization of the phenazines.

These findings would greatly enhance the developmental strategies for the therapy against the bacteria as these pathways are responsible for its survival as well as virulence. The study has been published in journal eLife.

For more information read here

Thursday, 23 November 2017

A Breakthrough in Antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance, as discussed earlier, is one of the major health concerns. It has created a worrisome situation as patients are increasingly falling to its trap. Researches are constantly working in finding a solution to this problem. One such breakthrough has been achieved by a team of researchers of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the Universitae de Montreal. The study by Bastein Casu, Tarun Arya, Benoite Bessette and Christian Baron.

Plasmid transfer is one the methods of gene transfer between bacterial species and these plasmids often carry genes for antibiotic resistance. The team at the Universitae de Montreal have come up with a novel approach to block the transfer of these genes. TraE protein is essential for gene transfer via plasmids. Learning about the proteins configuration the team have designed some molecules that when bind to this protein site hinders the gene transfer.

For complete story click Here

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The epicenter of Ebola outbreak unveils the mystery game of the virus.

In 2014 the Western African countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia witnessed the worst Ebola virus epidemic of their history which brought the life there at a complete halt. The outbreak left 11,310 dead and approximately 17000 survivors of the disease, of whom many are suffering from post-Ebola syndrome,  requiring first-grade medical attention.

There is saying that goes every problem has a solution and that solution revolves around the problem itself. The only effort that is required is to recognize the hidden clues and keep going ahead. Something similar seems to happen in Sierra Leone, one of the outbreak centers. The scientific team led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison collected the blood samples of the  deceased, disease survivors and healthy individuals who have not come in contact with virus. After thorough analysis and extensive research the team found that the level of two biomarkers- L-threonine (an amino acid) and vitamin-D binding protein are the deciding factors of a patient's survival. A complete understanding of these two factors would open doors for drug development of this deadly virus.

For complete story read here

Monday, 20 November 2017

Eureka moment- Repurposing of Chloroquine surfaced a new pathway to treat Zika virus.

Few days back We The Microbiologist had published a news update on drug repurposing. After paving a way to fight antibiotic resistance this method of drug testing has a another victory in line. This time the researchers at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and UC San Diego Institute of Medicine have found the anti-malaria drug Chloroquine to greatly eliminate the Zika virus effect in mice. For more details click here

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Fixed Dose regimen drive to treat TB in India by the Heath Ministry.

Recently on October 31st the Union Health Ministry of India has rolled out the FIXED DOSE REGIMEN to treat tuberculosis. According to the new methodology the TB patients will be given fixed doses of three-four drugs in a single pill on daily basis, dosage being based on the weight of the patient. The new treatment is promised to be effective and also it will reduce the pill burden.

Read here

Friday, 17 November 2017

Another pandemic in row!

Recently the eastern African city if Madagascar is witnessing the dreaded plague outbreak that has claimed nearly 171 lives so far as per the official statistics. Health experts have said it to be 'worst outbreak in 50 years' and the condition will further worsen if the causal bacterial species Yersinia pestis becomes antibiotic resistant and spreads to nearby countries.  For complete report read  here

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Drug repositioning paves a new pathway to fight antibiotic resistance.

Have you heard a medicine given to treat seasonal fever finds it use in cancer treatment???
Well, this can be true using drug repositioning or drug repurposing. It is application of known drugs to treat new infections and diseases. We are all aware of the frantic game of drug-resistance. Researchers around the world are leaving no stone unturned to take a control over the situation. Biomedical scientist Thomas Vorup-Jensen at the Aarhus University have found that drug repirposing can solve some of the problem. He and his team have found that the drug Glatiramer Acetate or Copaxone that is used to treat multiple sclerosis can now eliminate gram negative bacteria, often resistant to antibiotics.

The study has been published in the journal Nature and the summary can be read here

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

All About Swine Flu.

These days besides dengue, chikungunya, another viral infection that is dreading the general population is the Swine Flu. This contagious respiratory infection caused by the Influenza virus has claimed millions of lives across the globe. The following link gives the audience a basic knowledge about the virus, infection and the possible treatments available.

The probable reasons for leaky blood vessels in severe dengue cases deciphered.

With each passing day the dengue virus is groping individuals at an alarming rate, the recent example being the epidemic situation that aroused in West Bengal, India. In general, the symptoms are fever, headache, vomiting, fatigue, joints pain etc. Till date there is no specific treatment against the virus. The vaccine development for the virus is under process. The only best prevention regimen is the control and eradication of its vector mosquito Aedes agyptii.. 

Severe cases of infection result in the death of the patients wherein the the infected individual develop some life threatening symptoms that include hemorrhagic fever, petechiae (red or purple colored blisters under the skin/) and bleeding nose and gums. Researches are being carried out to rule out the possible biology involved in these conditions so as to develop the drug that can effectively kill the virus. 

One such breakthroughs has been made by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley. They have discovered the plausible case for leaky blood vessels in severe dengue virus infection. They have found that dengue virus NS1

protein is responsible for the disruption of glycocalyx layer lining the blood vessel which leads to the oozing out of the blood vessel components. For full story read here:


Monday, 13 November 2017

IITR08027- A molecule discovered by IIT-Roorkee researchers that can reverse antibiotic resistance.

IITR08027- A molecule discovered by IIT-Roorkee researchers that can reverse antibiotic resistance.

The researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee have tracked down a molecule-IITR08027 that can effectively tackle the drug-resistance menace. The efflux pumps in bacteria have been known to wipe out the antibiotic molecules entering the bacterial cell, thus, making the bacterial cell drug resistant. This molecule when administered obstructs the proton gradient which is the energy source of the efflux pumps. As a result, the rate at which the antibiotics are wiped out greatly reduces.

Further, they have reported that IITR08027 when used in combination with fluoroquinolones can even terminate the bacterial cells , thereby becoming a potent source for handling the grave situation. For more information read here.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017


27-28 June, 2017
Babcock University, Ilishan remo, Nigeria


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.


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


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


Thursday, 6 July 2017


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


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.

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.


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)

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

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 

WHO Alerts the Globe to the 12 Deadliest Microbes.

Alarm bells have been ringing all over the world about drug-resistant superbugs, which are expected to pose a huge threat to human health in the coming decades. Years of overuse, misuse, and poor prescribing and purchasing habits has created a serious problem whereby humanity can no longer rely on the old standards that have been used to effectively treat bacterial infections for decades. The United Nations has identified the threat, now the World Health |Organization has produced a list of twelve microbes that are seen as major priorities for antibiotic development.

The WHO aims to promote research and development by publishing this list, and they have categorized the bacteria by how urgent the threat has been perceived to be - critical, high, and medium priority. The biggest problem is seen as the one that affects people already dealing with health issues - those infections that are primarily found in hospital, clinic and nursing home settings. In this group are Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and the family of Enterobacteriaceae which includes Klebsiella, Proteus and the commonly known E. coli. Those bacteria often cause pneumonia and infections of the blood. Bacteria that have become resistant to virtually all antibiotic treatments are in this group. Carbapenems are seen as a last-resort treatment for various bacterial infections that are impervious to typical treatments, and some bacterial strains have gained resistance to those drugs (usually by gaining a piece of genetic material). The next categories include bacteria that are still very dangerous, resulting in illnesses like gonorrhoea and food-borne illness.

"This list is a new tool to ensure R&D responds to urgent public health needs," explained Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation. "Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time." There is global attention on this problem, which is planned to be discussed at a meeting of health experts in Berlin. "We need effective antibiotics for our health systems. We have to take joint action today for a healthier tomorrow. Therefore, we will discuss and bring the attention of the G20 to the fight against antimicrobial resistance. WHO’s first global priority pathogen list is an important new tool to secure and guide research and development related to new antibiotics," commented Mr Hermann Gröhe, the Federal Minister of Health.

The list was created by scientists at the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tubingen, Germany, considering characteristics like how deadly resulting infections are, how treatable they are, how easily they spread, how preventable they are, etc. The list was then reviewed by international experts.
"New antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world," said one researchers that helped to curate the list, Professor Evelina Tacconelli, who is Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tübingen. "Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and dramatically impact on patient care."

Source WHO

Fight against Killer Superbugs

Last September, the United Nations gathered to recognize the serious threat that antibiotic resistance poses to the public. It is estimated that antibiotic resistance is responsible for the deaths of over 700,000 people worldwide annually. Only a few days ago, the World Health Organization released a list of the microbial pathogens that pose the biggest threat to human health. Needless to say, any progress in this fight is a benefit to people. Researchers have some good news in the face of all the warnings; it appears that a drug combination is effective against two of the three pathogenic bacteria identified by WHO as well as another dangerous pathogen, all of which are gram negative bacteria. These findings have been reported in Nature Microbiology.

Gram-negative bacteria have a impervious outer shell that serves as a shield against many commonly used, and usually effective bacteria. That makes for an especially tough bug, causing many deaths, especially in hospital settings.
"These pathogens are really hard nuts to crack, but we found a molecule that shreds that shell and allows antibiotics to enter and be effective," explained the senior author of the report, Eric Brown, a Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Science at McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a scientist of the Michael G: deGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.

                                               (c) Google Image
The researchers determined that an antiprotozoal drug called pentamidine breaks into the surface of even the most resistant Gram-negative bacteria. When this antifungal drug was used in combination with antibiotics, it was effective against multi drug resistant antibiotics. "These pathogens are really hard nuts to crack, but we found a molecule that shreds that shell and allows antibiotics to enter and be effective," said Brown.

When pentamidine was used with antibiotics it could combat enterobacteriaceae and Acinetobacter baumannii, two drugs on the list released by WHO. This combination of drugs was also effective against another dangerous pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These results were modeled in rodents and in the lab, and now testing will have to investigate the side effects and safety for use in humans. Brown's lab continues to search for more therapies. "One of the things we want to pursue further is why this is working so well," he concluded.

Culled from LabRoots Inc. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Video: Microbial Life may sustain in Enceladus environment

Comparing the size of Enceladus (Image: Futurism)
Enceladus is a small moon of Saturn, which is just 502 km in diameter may sustain microbial life according to a recent research published in the journal Science. Cassini spacecraft able to manage to find the icy plumes contain molecular hydrogen. It has the chemistry, energy and atmosphere that can help to sustain microbial life. The question now lies to find whether it is true now.

Video Courtesy: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Pets exposure can reduce Babies risk of Allergies or Obesity

A new Canadian research investigation proved that owing dog or cat may benefit children to gain early immunity to allergies or obesity. The research was led by University of Alberta scientists shown that two important microbes transferred through pets are important contenders to reduce the risk of obesity or allergies.

Anita Kozyrskyj, a pediatric epidemiologist at University of Alberta said, “There’s definitely a critical window of time when gut immunity and microbes co-develop, and when disruptions to the process result in changes to gut immunity”.

Team collected fecal samples of 746 infants, where two bacteria Ruminococcus and Oscillospira were abundant who are exposed to pets (70% were dogs). These two bacteria are known to associate with lower risk of allergies or obesity among children.

Althogh researchers aren’t sure about the exposure was the direct contact with animal fur or indirect contact through humans but pet exposure has been the important factor to affect the gut microbiome indirectly. Pet exposure to pregnant mothers also can be factor for gut immunity for unborn baby.

“It’s not far-fetched that the pharmaceutical industry will try to create a supplement of these microbiomes, much like was done with probiotics,” Kozyrskyj said.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen NCE).

Journal Source: Microbiome

Sunday, 2 April 2017

80 Million years old Microbes identified from Bees' Gut

80 Million years is a very long time since bees began exhibiting their own social behaviour and they carry over generations of such old bacteria till today inside host bees. A new study published in the journal Science Advances led by researchers from University of Texas identifies such group of bacteria that live in guts of bees and have 80 million years of generation after generation journey. The importance of this finding lies how the social creatures like humans and bees have distinctive relationship with such tiny creatures called bacteria evolving together over such long period of time.

“The fact that these bacteria have been with the bees for so long says that they are a key part of the biology of social bees,” says Nancy Moran, a professor of integrative biology at the university who co-led the research with postdoctoral researcher Waldan Kwong. “And it suggests that disrupting the microbiome, through antibiotics or other kinds of stress, could cause health problems.”

Bees may have acquired their core microbiota around the same time as the transition to social lifestyles. Closely related bees have more similar microbiomes, suggesting co-diversification of host bees and their microbes. Image: Waldan K. Kwong and John. S. Ascher, University of Texas

Different bees have different social life style and they adopt different microbiome in their gut accordingly. In this new research, they identified five species of bacteria that bees took up 80million years ago. Those bacteria able to survive and evolved inside the gut in diversifying way and are specific to different species of bees.

“Most of them can’t live under atmospheric oxygen levels,” says Moran. “They can’t just grow in nectar or on the surface of a plant. They have to be in the bee gut.”

This is also the first time study where they chart the evolution of gut bacteria into animal host. Until now this is the longest evolution of gut bacteria.

A postdoctoral researcher from University of British Columbia, Kwong travelled across Asia to collect bees for such an important project. He has isolated 27 different bees species and sequenced DNA to identify different classes of gut microbiome. For each species they identified they built set of phylogeny or evolution tree. The final result was co-specification, where hundreds of species that are alive today have unique strains of bacterial species shared.

Scientists suggest that these bacteria are typically a symbiont where they can sustain only at guts of certain bees.


Monday, 27 March 2017

Bad Breath with Antibiotic Resistant Microbes when Orca exhale

Orca Whale surfacing (Image: Pixabay)
When an orca breaks the surface water and exhales, the mighty whale sprays along an array of bacteria, among which some are good and some bad. The new research that published in the journal Scientific Reports focused on the potential role of infectious diseases that are important struggling factors for species getting endangered.

Orcas’ breath samples have unveiled the microbes that are capable of causing disease. Among these microbes, some are multidrug resistant to antibiotics that are mostly used by we human beings. This provides a message with huge impact suggesting how humans are contaminating marine environment.

The study was carried out on four year period that provided array of microorganisms involving bacteria and fungi that are exhaled through orca’s breath. Surprisingly there were healthy microorganisms too, but they are worrisome drug-resistant.

"They're recruiting the bacteria in their habitats," said Stephen Raverty, the study's lead author who is a veterinary pathologist with British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford.

Orcas which are immunocompromised can be more susceptible towards such bacteria resulting in respiratory disease.

"These animals are subject to many stressors, which reduce the competence of their immune systems," said marine mammal veterinarian Pete Schroeder, co-author of the paper.

Courtesy: Phys dot Org


Sunday, 26 March 2017

Top Indian Universities under World Rankings 2017

Where are Indian Universities? (Image: Pixabay)

Among Indian Universities Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore ranks on top with 201 world ranking. Here are the top 10 Indian Universities that took place in World Rankings.

World Rank
Name of Institutes
Indian Institute of Science
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
Jadavpur University
Aligarh Muslim University
Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani
University of Calcutta

Find the top University Rankings 2017 here: get data

Top University Rankings of 2016: get data

Previous University Rankings: get data

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