Sunday, June 16, 2019

BacterioFiles 388 - Floor Fungi Fracture Phthalates

This episode: Microbes in household dust help degrade potentially harmful plasticizer chemicals!

Thanks to Ashleigh Bope for her contribution!

Download Episode (6.7 MB, 7.3 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Rosa rugosa leaf distortion virus

News item

Takeaways
Modern life and technology comes with modern challenges, including exposure to chemicals in building materials and such that humans didn't encounter much before the last few generations. Phthalate esters, found in PVC and other materials, can accumulate in homes and cause some problems, especially in children.

Modern life is also new to microbes, but they are very adaptable and versatile. In this study, microbes in household dust show some ability to break down the phthalates over time. Whether this activity is significant and beneficial to residents remains to be discovered.

Journal Paper:
Bope A, Haines SR, Hegarty B, Weschler CJ, Peccia J, Dannemiller KC. Degradation of phthalate esters in floor dust at elevated relative humidity. Environ Sci: Processes Impacts.

Other interesting stories:

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Floor Fungi Fracture Phthalates

Monday, June 10, 2019

BacterioFiles 387 - Carbonate Creators Combat Cracking

Sporosarcina pasteurii
By Ghosh et al. 2019. 
PLoS ONE 14(1):e0210339 
CC BY 4.0
This episode: Bacteria strengthen concrete while helping to prevent damage from road salts!

Download Episode (6.8 MB, 7.4 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Azospirillum brasilense

News item

Takeaways
Winter is a bad time for concrete outside. Water seeps into cracks and freezes, causing bigger cracks that widen into potholes. Even the road salts used to keep water from freezing can react with compounds in the cement to break down the structure of the concrete.

This study looks to bacteria for a solution for protecting concrete from these reactions. Sporosarcina pasteurii, given the right nutrients, can take the harmful salt compounds and turn them into minerals that strengthen the concrete instead of weakening it.

Journal Paper:
Ksara M, Newkirk R, Langroodi SK, Althoey F, Sales CM, Schauer CL, Farnam Y. 2019. Microbial damage mitigation strategy in cementitious materials exposed to calcium chloride. Construction and Building Materials 195:1–9.

Other interesting stories:

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Monday, June 3, 2019

BacterioFiles 386 - Cupola Contaminant Cleaners

Pisa cupola painting
By JoJan, CC BY-SA 3.0
This episode: Bacteria help gently clean residue off artworks painted on stone!

Download Episode (5.6 MB, 6.1 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Cellulophaga virus Cba171

Takeaways
More and more cleaning products these days contain an ingredient called "enzymes." These are proteins that break down contaminants biologically instead of just removing them chemically, in a targeted manner.

In a similar approach, this study explores applying bacteria directly to classic artwork painted directly on stone, to clean up residues on the surface. These bacteria can produce enzymes on site and degrade the contaminants while leaving the underlying paint intact.

Journal Paper:
Ranalli G, Zanardini E, Rampazzi L, Corti C, Andreotti A, Colombini MP, Bosch‐Roig P, Lustrato G, Giantomassi C, Zari D, Virilli P. 2019. Onsite advanced biocleaning system on historical wall paintings using new agar-gauze bacteria gel. J Appl Microbiol 126:1785–1796.

Other interesting stories:

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Monday, May 27, 2019

BacterioFiles 385 - Prokaryotes Protect Paper

Lysobacter enzymogenes 
attacking a fungal hypha
GFDL
This episode: Bacteria produce antifungal compounds that can protect paper from fungal deterioration!

Download Episode (6.8 MB, 7.4 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Acetobacter aceti

Takeaways
Paper is a very useful information storage medium, but it is also somewhat delicious for microbes that can break it down as food, degrade the quality, and cause indelible stains and discoloration under the right conditions. Preventing this usually requires careful control, such as keeping humidity low, for storing paper for long periods.

In this study, scientists tested the ability of the bacterium Lysobacter enzymogenes to protect paper via the antifungal compounds it produces. This first required filtering out the pigments that the bacteria produced, to prevent them from discoloring the paper. Once a method for this filtering was in place, they found the bacterial culture supernatant could significantly reduce fungal growth on various kinds of paper, and protect the paper from staining and degradation.

Journal Paper:
Chen Z, Zou J, Chen B, Du L, Wang M. 2019. Protecting books from mold damage by decreasing paper bioreceptivity to fungal attack using de-coloured cell-free supernatant of Lysobacter enzymogenes C3. J Appl Microbiol 126:1772–1784.

Post questions or comments here or email to bacteriofiles@gmail.com. Thanks for listening!

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Monday, May 20, 2019

BacterioFiles 384 - Moss Materials Modify Microbiota

Moss with fungi
This episode: Contact with soil materials and moss causes significant, though short-term, changes in the skin microbiota!

Thanks to Dr. Mira Grönroos for her contribution!

Download Episode (7.1 MB, 7.75 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Leonurus mosaic virus

Takeaways
Exposure to microbes throughout life is thought to help calibrate the immune system to some extent, reducing the risk of allergies and asthma without losing defense against pathogens. In this study, rubbing soil or packets of moss on the skin changed the composition of the skin microbiota temporarily, so this may be a way to help with this important type of exposure, but it is not yet known how to achieve optimal long-term effects.

Journal Paper:
Grönroos M, Parajuli A, Laitinen OH, Roslund MI, Vari HK, Hyöty H, Puhakka R, Sinkkonen A. 2019. Short-term direct contact with soil and plant materials leads to an immediate increase in diversity of skin microbiota. MicrobiologyOpen 8:e00645.

Other interesting stories:

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Monday, May 13, 2019

BacterioFiles 383 - Communities Carry Communicable Communities

Village in Fiji
By Merbabu~commonswiki
I'm back! This episode: Looking at how people in different villages share microbes!

Download Episode (6.5 MB, 7.0 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Cristispira pectinis

Takeaways
Our microbiota, the communities of microbes living in and on our bodies, are incredibly diverse and varied. Each person's is different, and they can change drastically over time with changes in location, diet, lifestyle, and other factors.

Learning how our microbiota forms and changes and functions is important, because it can affect many aspects of health. In this study, villagers in the islands of Fiji share microbes with others in the same and other villages, but not always in patterns that might be expected.

Journal Paper:
Brito IL, Gurry T, Zhao S, Huang K, Young SK, Shea TP, Naisilisili W, Jenkins AP, Jupiter SD, Gevers D, Alm EJ. Transmission of human-associated microbiota along family and social networks. Nat Microbiol.

Other interesting stories:

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Monday, April 15, 2019

BacterioFiles 382 - Small Scavengers Suck Sizeable Cells

Rhodotorula prey yeast
By A doubt, CC BY-SA 3.0
This episode: Fungus-hunting amoebas have different strategies for detecting and preying on single-celled and filamentous fungi!

Also, a personal note: I'm going to be taking a few weeks off the podcast to be able to take full advantage of spring, but I'll be back as soon as the weather gets too hot.

Download Episode (7.5 MB, 8.2 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Chondromyces catenulatus

Takeaways
Amoebas in the microbial world are like powerful predators, going around gobbling up whatever they find that's small enough, by a process called phagocytosis, in which they surround their prey with their cell membrane and engulf it. It's similar to macrophages or white blood cells as part of our immune system in our bodies.

The prey of amoebas includes bacteria, large viruses, and single-celled fungi called yeasts. In this study, scientists showed that some yeasts make great food sources for a certain kind of amoeba called Protostelium aurantium, while others either lack nutritional value or hide from the predators by covering up certain recognition molecules on their cell wall.

They found that the amoebas could also consume the spores of filamentous fungi, and could even attack the filaments, or hyphae. In this latter case, instead of engulfing the large filaments, they pierced the cells and extracted their contents, an approach named ruphocytosis, from the Greek for suck or slurp.

Journal Paper:
Radosa S, Ferling I, Sprague JL, Westermann M, Hillmann F. The different morphologies of yeast and filamentous fungi trigger distinct killing and feeding mechanisms in a fungivorous amoeba. Environ Microbiol.

Other interesting stories:

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