Recently in the Microbiology Category


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 http://college.usc.edu/wrigley/education/geobio.cfm or contact GeoBiology Course Coordinator Ann Close at close@usc.edu or (213) 740-6705.

Source: NAI Newsletter

The Microbial Diversity Summer Course of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) welcomes applications from members of the Astrobiology community who are seeking to understand the microbial basis of life. The MBL Microbial Diversity course, offered in Woods Hole, MA, since 1971, provides graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and established investigators with an unequaled opportunity to explore the diversity of the microbial world. The course is immersive, integrative, inter-disciplinary, and international in nature. The curriculum consists of lectures by foremost investigators, laboratory exercises, advanced technical training, field work, and substantial participant directed original research. Participants in the course traditionally represent a diversity of backgrounds and the course is open to all scientists who have a strong interest in microbes and their activities. This year's course is made possible, in part, by support from the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Dates: June 12 - July 28, 2010
Application Deadline: February 1, 2010
More info at: http://www.mbl.edu/education/courses/summer/course_micro_div.html [Source NAI Newsletter]

Eric Boyd of the Montana State University Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center (MSUABRC) recently led an expedition to Robertson Glacier to examine the microbiology and geochemistry of subglacial environments as it applies to Mars exploration. The field expedition also involved researchers John Peters, director of MSUABRC, Mark Skidmore (MSU), and Matt Urschel (MSU); Everett Shock and Jeff Havig of the Arizona State University Follow the Elements team, and Kevin Hand of the Jet Propulsion Lab Icy Worlds team.

The Arizona State University Astrobiology Team invites applications for a full-time postdoctoral Research Scientist (non-tenure track) position in Microbial Ecology/Physiology. The successful candidate will have a leading role in the research emphasis "The Stoichiometry of Life" which is aimed at understanding the fundamental relationships between the elemental composition of microbes and their environment, through investigations in the field, the laboratory, and the genomic and geologic records of the history of life. For more information: http://astrobiology.asu.edu/Astrobiology/Opportunities/Entries/2009/1/30_Postdoctoral_Fellowship_in_Microbial_Ecology_Physiology.html

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Our group is investigating bacterial spore viability in extreme environments. We currently focus on the following specific areas: (1) development of an endospore viability assay based on dipicolinic acid detection, (2) investigation of the microbial ecology of desert soils, permafrost, and Antarctic ice, (3) development of field-instrumentation for deployment in extreme environments. This works relates to NASA s strategic goals of investigating past or present habitable environment on Mars or other worlds by focusing on the boundary conditions for life in extreme environments on Earth. Deadline: Feb 1, 2009 http://fellowships.hq.nasa.gov/gsrp/research/detail.cfm?oppID=784

Source: [NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP)]