Best of the blog 2018

With the end of 2018 fast approaching, we are taking a look back at this year’s blog posts. This year has turned out to be a great one; from fatbergs to antimicrobial resistance, we really have learnt about some amazing microbiology. 

So here we go, a countdown of the top most-viewed posts from the blog this year:

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Best of the Journals 2018

As we approach the end of 2018, this week on Microbe Post we will be looking back at some of our achievements from the year. Today, we are looking at the Microbiology Society’s journals portfolio and some of the amazing microbiology research that was published in 2018.

Fish Farm with floating cages

In Microbial Genomics, researchers used genetic information to understand the spread of diseases. One paper discussed the genomic epidemiology of Renibacterium salmoninarum, a pathogen that causes bacterial kidney disease in farmed salmon. The paper focused on when the disease was introduced into Chile and how it spread after the first outbreak. Another paper was published describing how resistance to multiple drugs has evolved in the pathogen that causes TB. The researchers studied Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolated from an outbreak in Papua New Guinea.

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New microbes found in snow, the north pole, and pine trees

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.

With Christmas just around the corner, we thought we’d bring you a festive New to Science! Whilst here in the UK there may not be many white Christmases, there are plenty of microbes being found in the snow. Researchers in China isolated Conyzicola nivalis from a sample of glacial snow from the Zadang Glacier on the Tibetan Plateau. Whilst not the snow you may immediately think of, researchers discovered Muricauda marina in a sample of marine snow. Marine snow is organic material that constantly falls to the depths of the ocean. The composition of marine snow varies, but is mainly dead animals, phytoplankton, protists, and faecal matter; not the kind of snow you’d want to be making snowmen from!

Arctic winter in south Spitsbergen. Aurora borealis over the glacier.

Aurora borealis over Svalbard

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Microbiology Editor’s Choice: an improved understanding of the Mycobacterium cellular envelope

Each month, a manuscript published in our flagship journal Microbiology is chosen by a member of the Editorial Board. This month, the paper is ‘Deletion of MSMEG_1350 in Mycobacterium smegmatis causes loss of epoxy-mycolic acids, fitness alteration at low temperature and resistance to a set of mycobacteriophages‘ and was chosen by Professor Gail Preston.

Prof G. Preston: “Mycobacterium smegmatis is used as a model organism to understand the biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causal agent of tuberculosis (TB) and other mycobacterial pathogens. Thiacetozone (TAC) is an anti-tubercular drug that has been shown to interfere with the synthesis of mycolic acids, long chain fatty acids that form an important component of the cell envelope of mycobacteria…

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Keeping up with virus taxonomy: biopesticides, African swine fever and plant diseases

Continuing the ‘Keeping up with virus taxonomy’ blog series, in this post we will be discussing the virus that causes African Swine Fever, a family of viruses that infects insect larvae, and the Geminiviridae — members of which cause some of the most economically-important plant diseases in the world.

ICTV Taxonomy profiles are published in the Journal of General Virology and provide concise overviews of the classification, structure and properties of virus orders, families and genera. In this series, Microbe Post will be investigating the families published as ICTV Taxonomy Profiles, as well as continuing the discussion on the changing field of taxonomy.

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Does the cattle gut microbiome affect methane output?


I am a second year Walsh Fellowship PhD student based in Teagasc Grange and registered at University College Dublin. The title of my project is Understanding of the role of diet, host feed efficiency and genetics on the rumen microbiome and environmental outputs in beef cattle.

The need to feed an ever growing global population while also being required to limit the negative impacts on the environment associated with livestock production is a major challenge for global agriculture. Methane originating from ruminant livestock production is responsible for nearly 40% of global agriculture’s emissions, with cattle identified as the main contributor. Here in Ireland in particular, agriculture is the single largest contributor (~30%) to overall Greenhouse Gas emissions, and it is important to develop and implement abatement strategies through dietary management and breeding tools.

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FIS 2018

On 13 – 15 November, Microbiology Society Champion Lee Sherry attended the Federation of Infection Societies Conference, or FIS, in Newcastle. Here, he discusses his experience from the meeting and how being a Society Champion complements his research career. 

I was able to attend a few different talks whilst at FIS 2018 which I found to be a highly interesting and different to the conferences I usually attend. What struck me most whilst listening to the state of the art talks on the treatment regimens of HIV and HCV patients was how the talks focused on the clinical outcome as well as the feedback on side effects of treatment from patients. This was interesting; as an academic researcher I am used to looking at things in terms of the direct effect of a drug/compound on virus infection in cells. Here, the focus was a lot more holistic, offering information on the importance of early treatment following diagnosis as well as the specific effects of different classes of viral inhibitors.

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Plan S and the Microbiology Society

You might recently have heard about Plan S, a new initiative from a group calling themselves cOAlition S, which includes the European Research Council, UK Research and Innovation, Science Foundation Ireland, Wellcome, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and many other European national research funding bodies. The stated aim of Plan S is that:

“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

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Science and the Parliament

As the Microbiology Society’s Policy and Member Engagement Intern, I joined the policy team at this year’s Science and the Parliament Conference, which took place in Edinburgh on 14th November. The event was organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, with the intention of bringing together scientists, parliamentarians and policy makers, though a programme of speeches and panel discussions.

Events like this are an excellent opportunity for the Society to stay up to date with key issues in science policy. In addition, taking part in the event’s exhibition alongside other scientific bodies, gave us a chance to highlight the role microbiology plays in solving “big picture” problems.


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Junior Awards in Microbiology

The beginning of the new set of talks for the Junior Awards in Microbiology (JAM) series recently took place at the Institute for Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham. I’m Daniel, a postdoctoral from Cardiff University, and I was privileged to be accepted to speak at this event.

DavidFreshly opened, sweet as ever:

Even before travelling to the university, the promotion of the event was clear on social media. The JAM Talks team were drumming up interest by sending promotional tweets, and retweeting things that the speakers (@DanielJMorse and @SophieClough01) had sent. After travelling up from South Wales on the train (with expenses kindly covered!), I was greeted by the JAM organising committee outside of the train station. The organising committee also kindly organised accommodation for the trip, so after a not-so-short walk to the hotel, it was then time to meet in the main room for the presentation preparations.

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