General microbiology and science digest, October 28, 2014

Viruses in humans and caribous, metabolomics of losing weight, and microbes on rough surfaces.
Metabolomics

Impact of a 6-week very low-calorie diet and weight reduction on the serum and fecal metabolome of overweight subjects – Mette S. Schmedes – European Food Research and Technology

“NMR-based metabolomics was carried out on serum and fecal samples obtained from healthy female subjects pre- and post-weight reduction. “

Book with lots of plagiarized text (in at least 3 chapters), so not worth the $25 for the physical book, or even the free download:
Metabonomics and Gut Microbiota in Nutrition and Disease – Springer Link

Metagenomics

CheckM: assessing the quality of microbial genomes recovered from isolates, single cells, and metagenomes – Donovan H. Parks – PeerJ Preprints

“Here we introduce CheckM, an automated method for assessing the quality of a genome using a broader set of marker genes specific to the position of a genome within a reference genome tree along with information about the collocation of these genes. “

Viruses and phages

Expanding the Conversation on High-Throughput Virome Sequencing Standards To Include Consideration of Microbial Contamination Sources – Michael J. Strong, Zhen Lin, Erik K. Flemington – mBio

“We thank Ladner and colleagues for their conversation about standardizing viral genome sequences derived from high-throughput (HT) sequencing technology.”

Chlorovirus ATCV-1 is part of the human oropharyngeal virome and is associated with changes in cognitive functions in humans and mice – Robert H. Yolken – PNAS USA

“Unexpectedly, we identified DNA sequences homologous to virus ATCV-1, an algal virus not previously known to infect humans, in oropharyngeal samples obtained from healthy adults. “

* Preservation of viral genomes in 700-y-old caribou feces from a subarctic ice patch – Terry Fei Fan Ng – PNAS USA

“Using a viral particle-associated nucleic acid enrichment approach, we genetically characterized one complete DNA and one partial RNA viral genome from a 700-y-old fecal sample preserved in ice. “

Microbial Ecology

Trophic interactions induce spatial self-organization of microbial consortia on rough surfaces – Gang Wang, Dani Or – Scientific Reports

“A mechanistic model of cell-level interactions among multispecies microbial populations grown on hydrated rough surfaces facilitated systematic evaluation of how trophic dependencies shape spatial self-organization of microbial consortia in complex diffusion fields.”

Scaling laws governing stochastic growth and division of single bacterial cells – Srividya Iyer-Biswas – PNAS USA

“Now, by using a unique combination of measurement and analysis technologies, together with mathematical modeling, we discover quantitative features that are conserved across physiological conditions. “

Microbes in the news

Gut feelings – Microbiome and mental health – Fabio Piccini – Wall Street International

“Might people suffering from certain forms of mental health problems benefit from a fecal transplant from someone with more happy-go-lucky bacteria? “

Small Things Considered: Bacteria Allow Woodrats to Eat Poison – Anne A. Madden – ASM blog

“Despite such dire consequences, woodrats ingest enough of these plant toxins to kill a lab rat. Every day. But the desert is not littered with woodrat corpses, so clearly they are able to detoxify this poisonous salad somehow. “

Saving The Bees Using Microscopic Bugs – RedOrbit

“Phages are the most abundant life form on the planet and each phage has a unique bacteria that it will attack,” said Sandra Burnett, BYU professor of microbiology and molecular biology. “This makes phage an ideal treatment for bacterial disease because it can target specific bacteria while leaving all other cells alone.”

Science, publishing, and career

Reputation and impact in academic careers – Alexander Michael Petersen – PNAS USA

“Here, we develop a framework for quantifying the influence author reputation has on a publication’s future impact.”

NPRs All Things Considered (Podcast, 5 min): Is ‘Leaning In’ The Only Formula For Women’s Success In Science? – Kelly McEvers – NPR

“Don’t wait to be invited or encouraged to make a career in science, engineering or technology, Frances Arnold advises the young women she teaches at the California Institute of Technology. “

Bik’s Picks

Doctors Making Housecalls: Better, Cheaper Care at Home? – Jennifer Ferris – MedPageToday

“In a little over a decade the practice has exploded in popularity — with Taavoni and more than 40 other providers in North Carolina innovating new ways to bring healthcare home.”

Oil platforms off California are among the most productive marine fish habitats globally –
Jeremy T. Claisse – PNAS USA

“Here, we find that fish communities living on the complex hardscape habitat created throughout the water column by the structure of oil and gas platforms off California have the highest secondary production per unit area of seafloor of any marine ecosystem for which similar estimates exist.”

Can Science Perfect Food? – Daniela Galarza – Eater.com

“A research team in Japan is blowing past molecular gastronomy to discover new ways of perfecting already flawless dishes.”

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