Recently in the Microbiology Category

Viruses that infect bacteria are among the most abundant life forms on Earth. Indeed, our oceans, soils and potentially even our bodies would be overrun with bacteria were it not for bacteria-eating viruses, called bacteriophages, that keep the microbial balance of ecological niches in check.

Researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) announced today the design and construction of the first minimal synthetic bacterial cell, JCVI-syn3.0.

NASA's Exposing Microorganisms in the Stratosphere (E-MIST) experiment launched to the Earth's stratosphere on the exterior of a giant scientific balloon gondola at about 8 a.m. MST on Aug. 24 from Ft. Sumner, New Mexico.

Researchers this week published a paper confirming that the waters and sediments of a lake that lies 800 meters (2,600 feet) beneath the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet support "viable microbial ecosystems."

Capitalizing on the ability of an organism to evolve in response to punishment from a hostile environment, scientists have coaxed the model bacterium Escherichia coli to dramatically resist ionizing radiation and, in the process, reveal the genetic mechanisms that make the feat possible.

Poison-breathing Bacteria

Buried deep in the mud along the banks of a remote salt lake near Yosemite National Park are colonies of bacteria with an unusual property: they breathe a toxic metal to survive.

The future biosphere on Earth (as with its past) will be made up predominantly of unicellular microorganisms.

Derek Lovley's lab at UMass Amherst show for the first time that one of the most abundant methane-producing microorganisms on Earth makes direct electrical connections with another species to produce the gas in a completely unexpected way.

Microbes in Space, A Review

Rocco Mancinelli, PI of NAI's SETI Institute Emeritus Team, and his colleagues have published a major review of space microbiology in the current issue of Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. They discuss that, in general, microorganisms tend to thrive in the space flight environment, but that the mechanisms responsible for the observed behaviors aren't well understood. The survival of microorganisms in space was investigated to tackle questions on the upper boundary of the biosphere and on the likelihood of interplanetary transport of microorganisms. While it is found that extraterrestrial solar UV radiation was the most deleterious factor of space, the data the team surveyed supports the likelihood of interplanetary transfer of microorganisms within meteorites, the so-called lithopanspermia hypothesis. [Source NAI newsletter]

GeoBiology 2010, co-sponsored by the NAI, is an intensive course on how interactions between microorganisms and the environment have shaped the evolution of the Earth, and how microbe-mineral interactions leave imprints in the rock record. Participants get hands-on experience in research methods in geobiology and work in research groups solving current questions relevant to the field. The course will be held June 20-July 20, 2010. Applications are due March 5, 2010.

Themes include:
Microbial life in Yellowstone hot springs,
Mineral precipitation in Yellowstone,
Ancient stromatolites, and
Microbial dynamics in biofilms, emphasis on carbon and nitrogen.

This class will involve a field trip to Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas. Lab work will be conducted at the Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO) and the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island, CA. The course also includes public mini-symposia. The 2010 GeoBiology course is open to students and researchers at any level, but preference is given to graduate students in their early years. For more information and online applications, please see or contact GeoBiology Course Coordinator Ann Close at or (213) 740-6705.

Source: NAI Newsletter