Yes. I know it’s Friday. Thank you.
Microbiology, The Best Science Out Of All The Sciences™ (and coincidentally also the one that I do) has been featuring plenty on the twitter this morning. Why is this? It’s because even non-Microbiologists find Microbiology fascinating. It is, after all, The Best Science Out Of All The Sciences™.
Here are the best of those links to exciting stories, in reverse order of excitement.
At number 4, from @Jane_Anne62:
E. coli’s sticky secret revealed in medical journal
In which we discover that the recent European E.coli 0104:H4 outbreak strain was first detected back in 2001 [supporting my answer to this theory] and was particularly nasty due to a combination of evil toxins and an ability to hang around on the inside of your intestinal walls.
No big news here for bacteriologists, to be fair: we’ve known about Quorum Sensing for a long time now, wherein many single-celled organisms act together as a “multicellular” unit. The apoptosis (“programmed cell death”) angle is more interesting, bacteria generally use that to knock out immune system cells rather than each other.
Documenting the heinous methods of heinous microbiologists in Italy as they put several species of bacteria through extreme conditions to see if they could survive on Mars. The reasoning behind this is two-fold: could bacterial life survive on Mars, and moreover, could the early Viking missions to that planet have contaminated the environment with hardy bacteria from Earth?
We didn’t know about the existence of extremophiles back in 1975 when the Viking probes were launched, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t tough little microbes hanging onto the side of the vehicles, hitching a lift to the red planet.
Could they survive the Martian conditions? Well, the Italian results seem to suggest that yes they could.
Another planet ruined. We might as well frack it now.
Talking of yeast and extremophiles – how much more yeasty and extreme can things get than finding Exophiala dermatitidis and Exophiala phaeomuriformis in 56% of dishwashers tested across 6 continents?
These things are everywhere (apart from in the 44% of dishwashers that they weren’t).
Having abandoned previous missions to colonise fridges (too cold) and ovens (too hot), [you’re making this up, aren’t you? – Ed.] the black yeasts – determined to find a suitable household appliance – have taken to living in the rubber seals of dishwashers worldwide.
And while they are nowhere near as “nasty” as the E.coli mentioned above, they’re still not great to have around if you are immunosuppressed or have respiratory illness. Let this be a warning to you: go rinse your seals.
I love the way that people are taken by microbiology in the mainstream media. Either because it sounds like something from Star Trek, it’s been in the news or – in this last case – that it could (and 54% of the time, does) affect them.
So Much More Exciting Than Biochemistry™.