General microbiology and science, September 15, 2014

Biodiversity and evolution in microbial communities, metabolomics, swabbing, DNA extraction, ITS approaches, marine viruses, and Bik’s Picks.

Microbial Ecology

The cryptic role of biodiversity in the emergence of host–microbial mutualisms – Pradeep Pillai – Ecology Letters

“Using a metacommunity model, we show that competition between multiple cheaters within the host’s microbiome, when combined with the spatial structure of host–microbial interactions, can have a constructive rather than a disruptive effect by allowing the emergence and maintenance of mutualistic microorganisms within the host.”

Microbial communities evolve faster in extreme environments – Sheng-Jin Li – Nature Scientific Reports

“Here we report a relative evolutionary rates (rERs) analysis of microbial communities from six diverse natural environments based on 40 metagenomic samples. “

Metabolomics

Mapping the Inner Workings of the Microbiome: Genomic- and Metagenomic-Based Study of Metabolism and Metabolic Interactions in the Human Microbiome – Ohad Manor, Roie Levy, Elhanan Borenstein – Cell Metabolism

“Here, we discuss recent efforts to study the metabolic inner workings of this complex ecosystem. “

Techniques

Comparison of seven methods for extraction of bacterial DNA from fecal and cecal samples of mice – Janina Ferrand – Journal of Microbiological Methods

“DNA quantity and quality were assessed by fluorometry, spectrophotometry, gel electrophoresis and qPCR….For both feces and intestinal contents, the most efficient extraction method was the FastDNA® SPIN Kit for Soil.”

Swab Sample Transfer for Point-Of-Care Diagnostics: Characterization of Swab Types and Manual Agitation Methods – Nuttada Panpradist – PLOS ONE

“In this study, we compared bacterial release efficiency of seven swab types using manual-agitation methods typical of POC devices.”

Improved resolution of bacteria by high throughput sequence analysis of the rRNA internal transcribed spacer – Paul M. Ruegger – Journal of Microbiological Methods

“Comparisons of the ITS region and two SSU regions using annotated bacterial genomes in GenBank showed much greater resolving power is possible with the ITS region. “

Pyroprinting: A rapid and flexible genotypic fingerprinting method for typing bacterial strains – Michael W. Black – Journal of Microbiological Methods

“Pyroprinting relies on the simultaneous pyrosequencing of polymorphic multicopy loci, such as the intergenic transcribed spacer regions of rRNA operons in bacterial genomes.”

Bioinformatics

OrthoClust: an orthology-based network framework for clustering data across multiple species – Koon-Kiu Yan – Genome Biology

“We demonstrate the application of OrthoClust using the RNA-Seq expression profiles of Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster from the modENCODE consortium.”

Viruses and Phages

Review: Factors affecting virus dynamics and microbial host–virus interactions in marine environments – Kristina D.A. Mojica and Corina P.D. Brussaard – FEMS Microbiology Ecology

“The goal of the present minireview was to contribute to the evolution of marine viral ecology, through the assimilation of available data regarding the manner and degree to which environmental factors affect viral decay and infectivity as well as influence latent period and production.”

More Microbes

Dead or Alive: Molecular Assessment of Microbial Viability – Gerard A. Cangelosi and John S. Meschke – Applied and Environmental Microbiology

“This article reviews molecular viability analysis in that context and discusses future opportunities for these strategies in genetic, metagenomic, and single-cell microbiology.”

Bacteria in the news

Is your body mostly microbes? Actually, we have no idea – Peter Andrey Smith – The Boston Globe

“There’s only one problem: The oft-cited 10-to-1 figure is almost certainly inaccurate.”

The Death Microbiome Could Inform Forensic Science And Medicine – Randall Mayes – Design & Trend

“For pathologists working out the time of death, research has focused on the way that insects and microbes from a corpse’ environment take up residence in the flesh.”

Tiny hitchhikers, big health impact: Studying the microbiome to learn about disease – Krista Conger – ScopeBlog Stanford

Got microbes? Meet some of the tiny life forms that call you home and may make antibiotics for you (with annoying 5 questions if you want to read the whole article) – Susannah Bodman – Oregon Live

Fighting Poisons With Bacteria – Going Inside the Rice Microbiome – Carina Storrs – NY Times

“Dr. Bais is working to develop rice plants that take up less arsenic, a common contaminant in the fields of his native India and other Asian countries.”

Possum faeces may cause flesh-eating ulcers in humans, Victorian researchers say – ABC Australia

“Infectious disease researchers at Victoria’s Barwon Health have found that possums can carry the buruli bacteria, which can cause major skin ulcers in humans.”

Scientific publishing

Ten Simple Rules for Better Figures – Nicolas P. Rougier – PLOS Computational Biology

“we aim to provide a basic set of rules to improve figure design and to explain some of the common pitfalls.”

The digital toolbox – Nature Editorial

“A new section of Nature examines the software and websites that make research easier.”

Scientific career

There is life after academia – Nature Editorial

“With high numbers of postdocs emerging from universities, prospective PhD students must be prepared for the fact that they will probably not end up with a career in research.”

Bik’s Picks

PBS: Video on the science behind brewing beer hops to it – CNET

“PBS series “It’s Okay To Be Smart” takes a look at how beer is made, and what external factors influence the final product.”

The coffee genome provides insight into the convergent evolution of caffeine biosynthesis -France Denoeud – Science

“We generated a high-quality draft genome of the species Coffea canephora, which displays a conserved chromosomal gene order among asterid angiosperms. “

On the Other Hand – Bob Grant – The Scientist

“Handedness, a conspicuous but enigmatic human trait, may be shared by other animals. What does it mean for evolution and brain function?”

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