May 18, 2020

God morgon!

Good morning from Sweden. It’s Monday and the beginning of another week. I am quite excited to write today’s digest because there is a super impressive paper that concerns my area of research. Research efforts in Shigella infections have always suffered from the lack of a mouse model of infection. This notorious bacterium causes enteric infections only in humans and all the infection models, that have been in use so far,  are not physiologically that relevant. It was extremely thrilling to read the development of a mouse model that replicates the typical features of human infections. Talking about infection models, there is another interesting development. A group of researchers has reported an African green monkey model for CoViD-19. This is an important development for clinical assessment of potential vaccine and drug candidates against nCoV-19.

Speaking of vaccines, another group has reported a Neisseria meningitidis outer membrane vesicle (OMV) based vaccine that provides cross-species protection against Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This report assumes great importance when you consider the fact that no Neisseria gonorrhoeae vaccine has entered clinical testing for the past 30 years! In addition to this, there is a structural study of budding in Cryptococcus neoformans that has some really beautiful pictures like this one:

Screenshot 2020-05-18 at 14.57.43

Elsewhere in the digest are some interesting reports on the virulence of a root pathogen, Fusarium; metagenomic identification of diverse viruses; a potent mycobacteriophage; and commentary on Coronaviruses as pathogens responsible for pandemics.

Hope you enjoy today’s selection and have a great week!


Preprint: Establishment of an African green monkey model for COVID-19 – Courtney B. Woolsey, et al.

Preprint: Coronavirus, as a source of pandemic pathogens – Tomokazu Konishi

Bacteria Hysteria

Preprint: NAIP-NLRC4-deficient mice are susceptible to shigellosis – Patrick S Mitchell, et al.

Preprint: The serogroup B meningococcal outer membrane vesicle-based vaccine 4CMenB induces cross-species protection against Neisseria gonorrhoeae – Isabelle Leduc, et al.

Preprint: Antimycobacterial potential of Mycobacteriophage under pathophysiological conditions – Yeswanth C Kalapala, et al.

Preprint: A Division of Labor in the Recruitment and Topological Organization of a Bacterial Morphogenic Complex – Paul D Caccamo, et al.

Preprint: Comparative genomics of ocular Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains from keratitis patients with different clinical outcomes – Kathirvel Kandasamy, et al.

Human gut

Preprint: Higher prevalence of Bacteroides fragilis in Crohn’s disease exacerbations and strain-dependent increase of epithelial resistance – Heike E.F. Becker, et al.


Preprint: Let it bud: an ultrastructural study of Cryptococcus neoformans surface during budding events – Glauber R. de S. Araujo, et al.


Construction of habitat-specific training sets to achieve species-level assignment in 16S rRNA gene datasets – Isabel F. Escapa, et al. – Microbiome

A powerful microbial group association test based on the higher criticism analysis for sparse microbial association signals – Hyunwook Koh and Ni Zhao – Microbiome


Preprint: Metagenomic identification of diverse animal hepaciviruses and pegiviruses– Ashleigh F. Porter, et al.


Preprint: Transcriptome analysis reveals infection strategies employed by Fusarium graminearum as a root pathogen – Yi Ding, et al.

Microbes in the News

Living on The Space Station Leaves a Microbial ‘Fingerprint’ on Astronauts – Science Alert

What are the best foods to increase happiness? – Eastern Daily Press

April 20, 2020

God morgon!

Good morning from Sweden. To all my friends who have lost the track of time during the quarantine, it is Monday and the beginning of a new week. Today’s digest is a very light one. However, it carries a super interesting preprint that studies the impact of the pandemic on publication speed of different medical journals. The study reports that, on average, the COVID-19 related papers were expedited through the peer-review process at a 49% (up to 80% in case of certain journals) higher pace than the mean pre-pandemic publishing speed (Yes, there is a pre-pandemic and, possibly, a post-pandemic era now). Although this is a controversial topic, I guess the preprint did a very good job of discussing the reasons behind and impact of accelerated publishing.

In my personal opinion, it is great to be able to get valuable scientific information as soon as it is produced. However, as the paper points out, there has to be some sort of trade-off between the quality of a publication and the time taken by the peer-review process. It could be argued that the quarantine measures might have made it easier for some reviewers to focus their attention on the peer-review, making it faster, but there is no information on ‘who’ reviewed these papers. Also, the article highlights what a lot of scholars have been warning about – the amount of post-publishing corrections that these papers would require (more work for Ms Bik!).

What do you think could be the reasons behind this unprecedented celerity of publishing? Could it be the availability of more spare time to review papers? or could this be an instance of politicization of science (as someone pointed out in the comments section of the article)? What could be the impact of this swiftness, both positive and negative, on the scientific realm? Would it be possible, or advisable, to keep up this trend of swift publishing in the post-pandemic era? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

Apart from this highly thought-provoking article, there is another interesting article on the identification of bacterial strains that may promote maize (corn, for my American friends) growth in chilling conditions.

There is another interesting article that tries to establish a link between the gut microbiome and memory. The study focused on microbiome-specific genetic and metabolomic changes that may impact memory. The study was performed in mice.

Enjoy the articles, have a great week, and stay safe!


Preprint: Pandemic Publishing: Medical journals drastically speed up their publication process for Covid-19 – Serge P.J.M. Horbach

Preprint: Coronavirus Infection and PARP Expression Dysregulate the NAD Metabolome: A Potentially Actionable Component of Innate Immunity – Collin D Heer, et al.

Animal microbiome

Genetic and metabolic links between the murine microbiome and memory – Jian-Hua Mao, et al. – Microbiome

Plant root-soil microbiome

Tapping into the maize root microbiome to identify bacteria that promote growth under chilling conditions – Stien Beirinckx, et al. – Microbiome

Microbial interactions

Preprint: Expanding the diversity of bacterioplankton isolates and modeling isolation efficacy with large scale dilution-to-extinction cultivation – Michael W. Henson, et al.


April 6, 2020

God morgon!

Good morning from Sweden. This is my first post and following the current trend, it starts with some articles on the COVID19 pandemic. Today’s digest is headlined by some interesting preprints reporting inhibitors of SARS-CoV2 virus, followed by another interesting read suggesting the link between the gut microbiome and ADHD, some articles on our struggle against pathogenic bacteria, virus and fungi, and capped off with a small but informative news article on things one should not do during the COVID19 lockdown.

You might notice that today’s post is dominated by preprints. These preprints, while being an excellent way to disperse information as rapidly as it emerges, aren’t peer-reviewed. Hence, always read them with a pinch of salt!


Preprint: In vitro screening of a FDA approved chemical library reveals potential inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 replication – Franck Touret, et al.

Preprint: LY6E Restricts the Entry of Human Coronaviruses, including the currently pandemic SARS-CoV-2 – Xuesen Zhao, et al.

Preprint: Indomethacin has a potent antiviral activity against SARS CoV-2 in vitro and canine coronavirus in vivo – Tianhong Xu, et al.

Preprint: Potent Antiviral Activities of Type I Interferons to SARS-CoV-2 Infection – Emily K. Mantlo, et al.

Microbial interactions

Preprint: Enhanced nutrient uptake is sufficient to drive emergent cross-feeding between bacteria – Ryan K Fritts, et al.

Structure and function of the Arctic and Antarctic marine microbiota as revealed by metagenomics – Weipeng Zhang, et al. – Microbiome

Preprint: Accumulation of dead cells from contact killing facilitates coexistence in bacterial biofilms – Gabi Steinbach, et al.

Human microbiome

Preprint: Gut microbiota from persons with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder affects the brain in mice – Anouk C. Tengeler, et al.

Lung function and microbiota diversity in cystic fibrosis – Leah Cuthbertson, et al. – Microbiome

Animal microbiome

Preprint: Functional maturation of the gut microbiota at weaning is influenced by maternal environment in piglets – Martin Beaumont, et al.

Bacteria Hysteria

Preprint: The adaptive transcriptional response of pathogenic Leptospira to peroxide reveals new defenses against infection-related oxidative stress – Crispin Zavala-Alvarado, et al.

Preprint: Cytotoxicity of the effector protein BteA was attenuated in Bordetella pertussis by insertion of an alanine residue – Jan Bayram, et al.

Preprint: Antimicrobial peptide induced-stress renders Staphylococcus aureus susceptible to toxic nucleoside analogues – Alexandro Rodriguez-Rojas, et al.

Preprint: (p)ppGpp and malonyl-CoA set the pace for Staphylococcus aureus adaptation to FASII antibiotics and provide a basis for bi-therapy inhibition – Amit Pathania, et al.

Phages and viruses

Preprint: Viral RNA is a target for Wolbachia-mediated pathogen blocking – Tamanash Bhattacharya, et al.

Preprint: Synchronized infection identifies early rate-limiting steps in the hepatitis B virus life cycle – Anindita Chakraborty, et al.


Preprint: Evaluation of DNA extraction protocols from liquid-based cytology specimens for studying cervical microbiota – Takeo Shibata, et al.

Preprint: Biotinylated surfome profiling identifies potential biomarkers for diagnosis and therapy of Aspergillus fumigatus infection – Lei-Jie Jia, et al.


Preprint: Interpretable machine learning framework reveals novel gut microbiome features in predicting type 2 diabetes – Wanglong Gou, et al.

Preprint: Comprehensive single cell analysis of pandemic influenza A virus infection in the human airways uncovers cell-type specific host transcriptional signatures relevant for disease progression and pathogenesis – Jenna N Kelly, et al.

MetaEuk—sensitive, high-throughput gene discovery, and annotation for large-scale eukaryotic metagenomics – Eli Levy Karin, et al. – Microbiome

Preprint: Whole genome sequences of multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli isolated in a Pastoralist Community of Western Uganda: Phylogenomic changes, virulence and resistant genes – Jacob Stanley Iramiot, et al.

Microbes in news

News article: Experts study banana disease in Tanzania – The Guardian

News article: What not to do while on COVID-19 lockdown – Jamaica Observer

I know a lot of my fellow researchers are unable to continue their experiments and are yearning to get back to their respective labs. It is a testing time and I believe that patience and perseverance are the biggest strengths of a researcher. So, let’s bank on our strength and hope to see each other on the other side of this global pandemic soon!

With new information emerging every day about COVID19, there is a plethora of misinformation and myths surrounding the virus and the disease. As science enthusiasts, it is pertinent for us to dispel these myths. Here is a small list that I complied a few days back. Check it out!