Microbiomes Underpinning Agriculture – a view from Twitter

The Microbiomes Underpinning Agriculture Focused Meeting took place at the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork, Ireland, between 1–2 October. We’ve turned to Twitter to look at some of the highlights of the meeting. 

While the last preparations were being made at the venue, delegates used their journeys to Cork to share their excitement about the upcoming event.

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Microbiology Editor’s Choice: A greater understanding of UV damage in bacteria

Each month, a manuscript published in our flagship journal Microbiology is chosen by a member of the Editorial Board. This month, the paper is New envelope stress factors involved in σE activation and conditional lethality of rpoE mutations in Salmonella enterica and was chosen by Dr David Grainger.

David_GraingerUltra violet radiation has long been known to damage diverse cell types, primarily by inducing the formation of lesions, such as pyrimidine dimers, in DNA. In this work Amar and colleagues report the surprising observation that UV light triggers expression of the σE regulon in Salmonella. Usually activated in response to cell envelope stress, the σE mediated response to UV light appears important for cell survival. This work suggests that the UV damage in bacteria extends beyond mutation of the chromosome.


New envelope stress factors involved in σE activation and conditional lethality of rpoE mutations in Salmonella enterica

Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. typhimurium) can cause food- and water-borne illness. A key factor the ability of S. typhimurium to cause disease is a protein called σE. σE is coded for by the gene rpoE

This study reports new stress factors that are able to activate σE expression. We demonstrate that UVA radiation induces σE activity in a pathway that is dependent on the stringent response regulator ppGpp.

σE activity is also induced by hypo-osmotic shock in the absence of osmoregulated periplasmic glucans (OPGs). It is known that the rpoE gene is not essential in S. typhimurium. However, we report here two cases of the conditional lethality of rpoE mutations in this micro-organism.

We demonstrate that rpoE mutations are not tolerated in the absence of OPGs or LPS O-antigen. The latter case resembles that of the prototypic Escherichia coli strain K12, which neither synthesizes a complete LPS nor tolerates null rpoE mutations.


To access the full paper, click here. Papers published in Microbiology are available to journal subscribers, but the abstracts are free to read. Articles can also be purchased individually with the pay-per-view option.

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Why won’t TB go away?

This September, the United Nations convened a high-level meeting aimed at addressing the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic. Delegates heard from heads of state and political leaders, but one of the most powerful speakers was Nandita Venkatesan.United Nations Headquarters with waving flags in New York, USA

Shortly after graduating from university in 2007, Nandita was diagnosed with TB. At the high-level meeting, she spoke of her years spent battling the disease and the devastation she felt when she lost her hearing as a side effect of the essential, lifesaving treatments she had to take.

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Making microbiological research affordable and open-source

Improving access to research and data is a topic many of our members are passionate about. Humane Technologies is a company set up by some microbiologists from the University of Warwick. Humane Technologies have developed an affordable photometer that allows continuous monitoring of microbial growth, called MicrobeMeter. Below, they explain what inspired them to make this equipment freely available and why you shouldn’t need huge amounts of funding to make important scientific discoveries. 

Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek

Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek

The origins of microbiology go back to Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a self-made scientist. Antonie ran a draper shop, and his need to check the quality of his threads led him to develop an interest in making magnifying glasses. The lenses he developed were so powerful that he was able to use them to examine all kinds of biological samples. His superior lenses led him discover microbes for the first time in 1676.

In our modern day, we are more accustomed of scientific discoveries and inventions coming from the laboratories of well-funded, professional scientists, usually working at world-leading Universities. We assume that science has become so specialised and so detailed in its quests, that new discoveries can only come from advanced studies undertaken with highly specialised equipment. This may indeed be the case in some disciplines like chemistry and physics, however, in biology we still have room for discoveries by using even the most basic equipment and by conducting the simplest of experiments.

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A summer of prizes: Dr Ricardo Rajsbaum

This year, the Journal of General Virology (JGV) has sponsored four poster prizes at conferences and meetings around the world. Over this week, we will be getting to know a little more about the winners and their research.

Rajsbaum Ricardo copyThe Ann Palmenberg Young Investigator Award recognises junior investigators that have demonstrated particular promise in the field of virology and is awarded at the American Society of Virology’s Annual Meeting. This year’s winner is Dr Ricardo Rajsbaum, Assistant Professor at The University of Texas.

What was your winning talk called? 

Regulation of Innate Antiviral Immunity and virus replication by the host ubiquitin system

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A summer of prizes: Dr Samantha Ellis

This year, the Journal of General Virology (JGV) has sponsored four poster prizes at conferences and meetings around the world. Over this week, we will be getting to know a little more about the winners and their research.

DmVz05TVsAIfwpoDr Samantha Ellis was awarded the JGV Prize for Best Poster at the 2018 Focused Meeting on the Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of Avian Viruses in Oxford. Samantha is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Roslin Institute.

What was your winning talk called?

Application of CLIPs epitope mapping to identify immunogenic epitopes on the S1 of Infectious Bronchitis Virus Continue reading

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New microbes found in humans, pollen and The Amazon Rainforest

Each month, the Microbiology Society publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM), which details newly discovered species of bacteria, fungi and protists. Here are some of the new species that have been discovered and the places they’ve been found.

The Amazon Rainforest is a hotspot of natural life, containing an estimated 10% of the planet’s biodiversity and spans over nine countries in South America. Here, three research groups investigating yeasts found two new species. The first, Wickerhamiella dianesei was discovered on an adult bee in Costa Rica and the second, named Wickerhamiella kurtzmanii was found on flowers in Costa Rica, Brazil and French Guiana.


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