Monday, November 25, 2019

BacterioFiles 404 - Phages Force Food Finding

Synechococcus cyanobacteria
This episode: Another climate-related story: Cyanobacteria infected by viruses continue taking up nutrients from their environment, using it to make more viruses than would otherwise be possible!

Download Episode (6.3 MB, 9.2 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Microcystis virus Ma-LMM01

News item

Takeaways
Though global warming is a global problem, accurate models for predicting where things are headed need to incorporate the activity of even the smallest organisms, if they're numerous enough. Photosynthesis and other activities of microbes in the oceans are a big sink for carbon, but cycles of other nutrients and also viruses can affect the carbon cycle.

In this study, phages infecting photosynthetic ocean bacteria were able to continue their host's uptake of nitrogen from the environment even after mostly shutting down the host's own protein production and growth. This has implications for how viruses affect carbon cycling by cyanobacteria and how quickly populations of these bacteria may grow or die off.

Journal Paper:
Waldbauer JR, Coleman ML, Rizzo AI, Campbell KL, Lotus J, Zhang L. 2019. Nitrogen sourcing during viral infection of marine cyanobacteria. Proc Natl Acad Sci 116:15590–15595.

Other interesting stories:

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Monday, November 18, 2019

BacterioFiles 403 - Mercury Modifies Microbe Metabolism

This episode: First episode of a climate-related arc! Considering microorganisms is important when predicting the amount of carbon coming from soil as temperature increases!

Download Episode (4.7 MB, 6.75 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Streptomyces virus Zemlya

News item

Takeaways
Soil as a whole has a big influence on the climate of the planet, by enabling the communities of organisms that live in it to interact and grow, taking up gases from the atmosphere and putting others back in. Even aside from plants that grow in it, the other organisms in soil can respire and break down compounds to produce CO2, adding to what's in the atmosphere already.

There has long been observed a relationship between ambient temperatures and this respiration in soil, such that more heat means more activity and more gases released from the soil, but today's study found that the microbial biomass in a given piece of land can have a big effect on the temperature/respiration relationship.

Journal Paper:
ńĆapek P, Starke R, Hofmockel KS, Bond-Lamberty B, Hess N. 2019. Apparent temperature sensitivity of soil respiration can result from temperature driven changes in microbial biomass. Soil Biol Biochem 135:286–293.

Other interesting stories:

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Monday, November 11, 2019

BacterioFiles 402 - Microbe Membranes Mobilize Microglia

Microglia in rat brain tissue
This episode: Gut microbes can stimulate immune cells in mouse brains to fight off viral infections!

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Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Streptoverticillium mobaraense

News item

Takeaways
The central nervous system, including the brain, is a protected area of the body. Pathogens that get in can do a lot of damage, including memory loss, paralysis, and death, so there's a strict barrier in healthy people that keeps most things out of this area: the blood-brain barrier. The immune system is also kept separate, so special cells called microglia do the patrolling and protection of the brain.

Nevertheless, microbes in the gut can influence the function of the immune system in the brain, even from a distance. In this study, mice lacking gut microbes did not have as effective an immune response to a virus infecting the brain, and it was found that molecules from bacterial outer membranes were sensed by microglia to activate their defensive response.

Journal Paper:
Brown DG, Soto R, Yandamuri S, Stone C, Dickey L, Gomes-Neto JC, Pastuzyn ED, Bell R, Petersen C, Buhrke K, Fujinami RS, O’Connell RM, Stephens WZ, Shepherd JD, Lane TE, Round JL. 2019. The microbiota protects from viral-induced neurologic damage through microglia-intrinsic TLR signaling. eLife 8:e47117.

Other interesting stories:

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Monday, November 4, 2019

BacterioFiles 401 - Phototrophs Fill Fungal Filaments

Algae inside fungal hypha
By Du et al. 2019
eLife e47815
This episode: In this partnership between fungus and algae, the algae eventually take up residence inside their partner!

Download Episode (8.4 MB, 12.1 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Erwinia tracheiphila

News item/Summary article

Takeaways
Partnerships and cooperation between otherwise free-living organisms is common in the natural world. Partnering with a photosynthetic organism is a smart approach, allowing the partner to get its energy from the sun and making gathering nutrients easier for the phototroph, and possibly offering protection as well. But in most partnerships, each partner stays separated by its own cell membrane.

In this study, a fungus and an alga grow well together, exchanging carbon for nitrogen, similar to how lichens operate. But after a month or so of co-culture, the algae apparently enter the cells of the fungus somehow and live inside it, happily growing and dividing, turning the fungus green.

Journal Paper:
Du Z-Y, Zienkiewicz K, Vande Pol N, Ostrom NE, Benning C, Bonito GM. 2019. Algal-fungal symbiosis leads to photosynthetic mycelium. eLife 8:e47815.

Other interesting stories:

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

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