Microbiome digest, July 31

A snapshot of the human microbiome, a robot helping the Knight lab process samples (I want one!), and finally something that does NOT involve the microbiome.

Human microbiome general

SnapShot: The Human Microbiome – Antonio González – Cell

“This SnapShot presents several aspects of the human microbiome, including the characterization of the microbial species populating different body sites, the distribution of microbes across different geographic locations, and how the microbiome can be altered by a physiological process, exemplified by pregnancy.”


Animal models of microbiome

Symbiotic Bacterial Metabolites Regulate Gastrointestinal Barrier Function via the Xenobiotic Sensor PXR and Toll-like Receptor 4 – Madhukumar Venkatesh – Immunity

“Here we showed that microbial-specific indoles regulated intestinal barrier function through the xenobiotic sensor, pregnane X receptor (PXR).”

Bacterial Sensor Nod2 Prevents Inflammation of the Small Intestine by Restricting the Expansion of the Commensal Bacteroides vulgatus – Deepshika Ramanan – Immunity

“Here, we identified several abnormalities in the small-intestinal epithelium of Nod2−/− mice including inflammatory gene expression and goblet cell dysfunction, which were associated with excess interferon-γ production by intraepithelial lymphocytes and Myd88 activity.”

Effect of virgin and refined olive oil consumption on gut microbiota. Comparison to butter – M. Hidalgo – Food Research International

“Evolution of symbiont population in feces was studied using culture-dependent and culture-independent methods. In the latter, the V3 region of 16S rDNA was amplified and separated by Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis; followed by sequencing of the most representative bands. “

Animal gut microbiome

Longitudinal shifts in bacterial diversity and fermentation pattern in the rumen of steers grazing wheat pasture – D.W. Pitta – Anaerobe

“Rumen samples were collected on days 14, 28, 56 and 76, separated into solid and liquid fractions and analyzed for bacterial diversity using 16S pyrotag technology. “


The cross talk between microbiota and the immune system: metabolites take center stage – Hagit Shapiro – Current Opinion in Immunology

“While most attention has focused on the innate recognition of immune-stimulatory bacterial molecules, such as cell wall components and nucleic acids, we emphasize here the impact of diet-dependent microbial metabolites on the development and function of the immune system.”

Bioinformatics tools

eSNaPD: A Versatile, Web-Based Bioinformatics Platform for Surveying and Mining Natural Product Biosynthetic Diversity from Metagenomes – Boojala Vijay B. Reddy – Chemistry & Biology

“Environmental Surveyor of Natural Product Diversity (eSNaPD) is a web-based bioinformatics and data aggregation platform that aids in the discovery of gene clusters encoding both novel natural products and new congeners of medicinally relevant natural products using (meta)genomic sequence data. “

RAMICS: trainable, high-speed and biologically relevant alignment of high-throughput sequencing reads to coding DNA – Imogen A. Wright and Simon A. Travers

“To facilitate such analyses, we have developed a novel tool, RAMICS, that is tailored to mapping large numbers of sequence reads to short lengths (<10 000 bp) of coding DNA”

Computational integration of genomic traits into 16S rDNA microbiota sequencing studies – Alexander Keller – Gene

“Here, we show in a proof-of-concept that computational approaches are able to retain functional information about microbial communities assessed through 16S rDNA (meta)barcoding by referring to reference genomes.”

Viruses and helminths

How helminths go viral – Rick M Maizels1, William C Gause

“On pages 573 and 578 of this issue, Reese et al. (3) and Osborne et al. (4), respectively, provide fine detail on how helminth worms can substantially enhance and reactivate viral infection, with major health implications for tropical medicine.”

Helminth infection reactivates latent γ-herpesvirus via cytokine competition at a viral promoter – T. A. Reese – Science

“We found that helminth infection, characterized by the induction of the cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) and the activation of the transcription factor Stat6, reactivated murine γ-herpesvirus infection in vivo.”

Virus-helminth coinfection reveals a microbiota-independent mechanism of immunomodulation – Lisa C. Osborne – Science

“Helminth coinfection resulted in impaired antiviral immunity and was associated with changes in the microbiota and STAT6-dependent helminth-induced alternative activation of macrophages. “

More Microbiology

Larger Mammalian Body Size Leads to Lower Retroviral Activity – Aris Katzourakis – PLOS Pathogens

“Body size explains 37% of the variance in ERV integration rate over the last 10 million years, controlling for the effect of confounding due to other life history traits. “

Microbes in the news

Researcher: Bacteria Ate Some Gulf Spill Toxins, but Worst Remain – Sandy Smith – EHS Today

“In two new studies conducted in a deep sea plume, Assistant Professor Olivia Mason found a species of bacteria called Colwellia likely consumed gaseous hydrocarbons and perhaps benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene compounds that were released as part of the oil spill. “

Baxter breaks out – Hal Hodson – New Scientist

“Baxter is even turning its grippers to lab work. Correll is working with UCB’s Rob Knight to teach Baxter the job of preparing faeces samples for research.”

Science and Career

The stressed-out postdoc – Carrie Arnold – Science

“After he defended his dissertation and moved to a new lab for his postdoc, Ian Street hoped his battles with anxiety and depression were over.”

Bik’s Picks

Africa Needs Science, Not Aid – Nkem Khumbah and Melvin P. Foote –  The New York Times

Scientific and technological advancement will help eradicate poverty and promote homegrown economic development by providing Africa with the tools to address its own challenges and expand its industrial productivity. “

DDT Linked To Obesity In Female Mice Long After Exposure – Hank Campbell – Science 2.0

A new epidemiology paper in PLOS One doesn’t try to prove that, the authors instead correlate DDT use from generations ago with increased waistlines of today.  DDT exposure may have made you fat, they conclude.”


A Lick Of The Tongue Changes This Ice Cream’s Color – Loren Grush – Popular Science

“The result was Xamaleón, which is Spanish for “chameleon.” With a patent pending, Linares is staying tight-lipped on the recipe, but apparently there’s a special ingredient dubbed the “love elixir,” which must be spritzed on the ice cream before it’s eaten. “






Scientists explain mystery of our ‘lemon Moon’ – James Vincent – The Independent

“A new accurate map of the Moon has shown that it bulges slightly at one side and is flattened at the top and bottom – but how did it get this way?”




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