17 episodes

Microbe Magazine Podcast is a monthly science podcast hosted by Jeff Fox, features editor for Microbe Magazine, published by the American Society for Microbiology.

Each podcast episode coincides with an article in the current issue of Microbe, which is available online at www.microbemagazine.org.

Please contact Patrick Lacey, Managing Editor for Microbe, with any questions, feedback or show ideas at placey@asmusa.org.

Microbe Magazine Podcast American Society for Microbiology

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Microbe Magazine Podcast is a monthly science podcast hosted by Jeff Fox, features editor for Microbe Magazine, published by the American Society for Microbiology.

Each podcast episode coincides with an article in the current issue of Microbe, which is available online at www.microbemagazine.org.

Please contact Patrick Lacey, Managing Editor for Microbe, with any questions, feedback or show ideas at placey@asmusa.org.

    MMP #17: How bacteria can change graphene to propel rotors.

    MMP #17: How bacteria can change graphene to propel rotors.

    Host: Jeff Fox with special guests, Julia Yeomans and Vikas Berry.
    Julia Yeomans of Oxford University in the United Kingdom and chemical engineer
    Vikas Berry of the University of Illinois, Chicago, talk with Jeff Fox about their separate, but in some ways similar, research efforts in which they use bacteria to perturb and probe the physical properties of simple machines, in one case, and unusual materials, in the other.
    Yeomans and her collaborators are developing models of miniature windfarms in which 64 rotors are arrayed regularly within a symmetric lattice, to which actively swimming bacteria are added. Under appropriate constraints, the bacteria spontaneously organize in such a way that they induce neighboring rotors to spin in opposite directions. Single rotors would be "kicked around randomly," the researchers say, but the arrayed rotors form "a regular pattern." Yeomans says, "Nature is brilliant at creating tiny engines, and there is enormous potential if we can understand how to exploit similar designs."
    Berry and his collaborators aligned rod-shaped gram-positive bacteria and then vacuum-shrunk a graphene sheet over them, thus forming nanoscale ripples into the otherwise smooth graphene surface. "The current across the graphene wrinkles is less than the current along them," says Berry. "We envision that with graphene one could make the smallest wavelength wrinkles in the world—about 2 nanometers. The structure is different, and the fundamental electronic properties are new."
    This story was featured in the September 2016 issue of Microbe Magazine.
    Subscribe to MMP (free) on iTunes, Stitcher, Android, RSS, or by email. You can also listen on your mobile device with the Microbeworld app.
    Send your microbiology questions and comments (email or audio file) to jfox@asmusa.org
    Tweet Jeff your questions about this episode or just say hi!

    • 48 min
    MMP #16: Insights into Toxoplasma gondii parasites

    MMP #16: Insights into Toxoplasma gondii parasites

    Host: Jeff Fox with special guest, Emma Wilson.
    Emma H. Wilson of the University of California, Riverside, talks with Jeff Fox about efforts, with her collaborators to determine more precisely how Toxoplasma gondii parasites disrupt the mammalian brain—in this case, the brains of mice. This same parasite infects about one-third of the human population, but is held in check by the immune system unless those host defense mechanisms become impaired.
    Wilson and her collaborators find that these parasites interfere with the cycling of the neurotransmitter glutamate within the central nervous system, blocking its uptake by astrocytes, widely distributed cells within brains that are intertwine with and thus work very closely with neurons, which are the main cells for transmitting nerve impulses throughout the central nervous system. 
    Some damaging effects of the parasites can be reversed by treating the mice with a drug—in this case, it happens to be an antibacterial drug but here acts by a separate mechanism-- that helps to restore the glutamate transport protein in astrocytes. In this way, it partly corrects that glutamate imbalance within the brain.
    This story was featured in the August 2016 issue of Microbe Magazine.
    Subscribe to MMP (free) on iTunes, Stitcher, Android, RSS, or by email. You can also listen on your mobile device with the Microbeworld app.
    Send your microbiology questions and comments (email or audio file) to jfox@asmusa.org
    Tweet me your questions about this episode or just to say hi!

    • 37 min
    MMP015: A Scientific Roadmap for Antibiotic Discovery

    MMP015: A Scientific Roadmap for Antibiotic Discovery

    Host: Jeff Fox with special guests, Carolyn Shore and Ruben Tommasi.
    Carolyn Shore of Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C., and Ruben Tommasi of Entasis Therapeutics in Waltham, Massachusetts, talk with Jeff Fox about what’s needed to identify and develop new antimicrobial agents to treat infections caused by bacterial pathogens, with an emphasis on gram-negative bacterial pathogens. 
    According to that recent report from Pew Charitable Trust, which is based in Philadelphia, the challenges facing developers of such antibiotics fall into four main categories: developing a better understanding of the workings of gram-negative bacterial pathogens, a shortage of candidate drugs whose chemical design focuses on bacterial pathogens, an assessment of non-traditional efforts to control microbial infections, and an overview of what’s needed in terms of expertise and of sharing information among investigators in this field to meet these challenges.
    This story was featured in the July 2016 issue of Microbe Magazine.
    Subscribe to MMP (free) on iTunes, Stitcher, Android, RSS, or by email. You can also listen on your mobile device with the Microbeworld app.
    Send your microbiology questions and comments (email or audio file) to jfox@asmusa.org
    Tweet me your questions about this episode or just say hi!

    • 37 min
    MMP014: A look at several microorganisms involved with electricity.

    MMP014: A look at several microorganisms involved with electricity.

    Host: Jeff Fox with special guests, Gemma Reguera and Geoffrey Gadd.
    Gemma Reguera of Michigan State University in East Lansing and Geoffrey Gadd of the University of Dundee in Scotland talk with Jeff Fox about their efforts, to probe some of the electrical properties of materials produced naturally by specific microorganisms. Thus, Geobacter bacteria make protein filaments, called pili, that act as nanowires, transporting 1 billion electrons per second, according to Reguera and her collaborators. Analytic evidence suggests that the electrons move along these proteins by a thermally activated, multistep hopping mechanism, enabling these bacteria to draw electrons from the extracellular milieu.
    Meanwhile, the fungus Neurospora crassa can transform manganese into a mineral composite with favorable electrochemical properties. The fungal cells produce filaments that take up manganese, which after heat treatment forms structures that have electrochemical properties that are suitable for use in supercapacitors or lithium-ion batteries. The carbonized fungal biomass-mineral composite has excellent cycling stability and retains more than 90% capacity after 200 cycles, according to Gadd and his collaborators.
    This story was featured in the June 2016 issue of Microbe Magazine.
    Subscribe to MMP (free) on iTunes, Stitcher, Android, RSS, or by email. You can also listen on your mobile device with the Microbeworld app.
    Send your microbiology questions and comments (email or audio file) to jfox@asmusa.org
    Tweet me your questions about this episode or just say hi!

    • 44 min
    MMP013: Redetermining the ratio of microbial to human cells – correcting the widely held view that this ratio is 10 to 1

    MMP013: Redetermining the ratio of microbial to human cells – correcting the widely held view that this ratio is 10 to 1

    Host: Jeff Fox with special guests, Ron Milo and Shai Fuchs.
    Ron Milo of Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and Shai Fuchs at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, talk with Jeff Fox about their efforts, with Ron Sender at Weizmann, to redetermine the ratio of microbial to human cells. This ratio, widely cited as being 10 to 1, is closer to even, they find, while arguing that it may prove helpful in the long run to have a better and more rigorous grasp of how many cells there are in both the host and the microbiome.
    Milo, Fuchs, and Sender update the widely-cited 10:1 ratio, “showing that the number of bacteria in our bodies” is instead “of the same order as the number of human cells. Indeed, the numbers are similar enough that each defecation event may flip the ratio to favor human cells over bacteria.”
    Thus, the total number of bacteria in the ″reference man″ is about 3.9 x 1013 with an uncertainty of 25%, and a variation over the population of 52%. For human cells, they find that the hematopoietic lineage of cells plays a “dominant role, accounting for about 90% of all body cells. They also revise estimates to the a new total of 3.0 x 1013 human cells in a 70-kg ″reference man″ with a 2% uncertainty.
    This story was featured in the May 2016 issue of Microbe Magazine.
    Subscribe to MMP (free) on iTunes, Stitcher, Android, RSS, or by email. You can also listen on your mobile device with the Microbeworld app.
    Send your microbiology questions and comments (email or audio file) to jfox@asmusa.org
    Tweet me your questions or just let me know you heard this episode!
    Image: Colored transmission electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA are among the drugresistant pathogens that are drawing researchers to look at how such resistance moves through the environment (see p. 201). (Image © Credit: Biomedical Imaging Unit, Southhampton General Hospital/Science Source.)

    • 42 min
    MMP012: Hydrogen from ground rocks can furnish microbial ecosystems with energy to drive growth.

    MMP012: Hydrogen from ground rocks can furnish microbial ecosystems with energy to drive growth.

    Host: Jeff Fox with special guest, Jon Telling.
    Jon Telling of Bristol University in Bristol, United Kingdom talks with Jeff Fox about his findings suggesting that the grinding of glaciers over rocks can liberate hydrogen, which, in turn, drives the growth of methanogens within microbial ecosystems.
    Telling and his collaborators provide evidence that the grinding of rocks beneath glaciers can free hydrogen gas from minerals in those rocks. In turn, that hydrogen provides energy to furnish the metabolic needs of particular microorganisms, called methanogens, that produce methane and other organic molecules from carbon dioxide through a non-photosynthetic process.
    “This is an important new mechanism for hydrogen production,” says Christopher McKay, senior planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who was not involved in conducting this research. “Water-water reactions producing hydrogen are usually associated with high temperature systems, and it has been thought that they could not operate at low temperatures. This shows how hydrogen can be produced in an ice-covered system and has huge implications for ice-sealed Antarctic ecosystems such as Lake Vida and for the ice-covered ocean moons of the outer Solar System, Europa and Enceladus.” The research also has important implications for subglacial environments that acted as refuges during the early history of our planet, enabling microorganisms to survive during the Neoproterozoic glaciations, also called Snowball Earth.
    This story was featured in the April 2016 issue of Microbe Magazine.
    Subscribe to MMP (free) on iTunes, Stitcher, Android, RSS, or by email. You can also listen on your mobile device with the Microbeworld app.
    Send your microbiology questions and comments (email or audio file) to jfox@asmusa.org
    Tweet me your questions or just let me know you heard this episode!

    • 43 min

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