“Purdue professor discovers new method to treat superbug infections”

Summary- Mohammed Saleem, a professor from Purdue, has found a new method that can treat infections by antibiotic resistant bacteria. The method involves treating the infection with blue light, which strips the bacteria of a pigment necessary for survival in the host. By removing this pigment, the bacteria are weakened to a point that traditional mild antiseptics. This has been found to be effective in mice infected with MRSA, and the researchers are looking forward to human trials.

connections- We have learned that antibiotic resistance is a major area of research of monumental importance. Because blue light is not toxic to the host, it is selective for the pathogen and is an easily accessible method of treating infections on the skin.

critical analysis- It is not explained exactly why the bacteria need the pigment, or how the blue light washes this pigment from the cell. The blue light does not kill the cell, and the use of “mild antiseptics” are still necessary. Depending on what the antiseptics are, this could still contribute to antibiotic resistance.

question- What does the pigment do to help the bacteria live in the host body?



Ω by: David Warner


A visual representation of horizontal gene transfer by conjugation is shown. We can observe the plasmid bearing bacteria (green) extend it’s pilus, attach to the plasmid lacking bacteria (orange) and pull the cell in to perform the conjugation plasmid transfer. The title, “Ω” is the greek letter omega, which has a two-fold meaning. Firstly, omega is the symbol for the “ohm”, which is a measure of electrical resistance. Horizontal gene transfer is a major contributor to the spread of antibiotic resistance genes through a population and even community. Omega is also the last letter in the greek alphabet, and is often a symbol of “the end”. Antibiotic resistance is a very real problem, and failure to deal with this problem has already caused infections that we cannot treat. This could mean that further proliferation of antibiotic resistance could lead to the end of human’s reign as ruler of the planet.


Microbes in the News 2_Spaceflight wakes dormant viruses_David Warner

“Most of us have viruses sleeping inside us, and spaceflight wakes them up’

Neel V. Patel. March 22, 2019

Popular Science



A study published in Frontiers in Microbiology has reported that herpes viruses that lie dormant in the body become activated in astronauts sent into space. Immune systems are known to take a hit from the effects of microgravity and living in small, confined spaces, so the addition of reactivated herpes viruses may make a high risk environment even more risky. The stress induced by the environment weakens the immune system to a level where dormant viruses are able to thrive.

Although virus reactivation does not necessarily mean the subject is sick, it certainly puts the subject at a greater risk of getting sick while the immune system is temporarily compromised.

Virus are nearly impossible to completely eradicate from the body, and immune-compromised individuals are at risk of viral infections due to the inability of their body to subdue any viral or pathogenic bacterial infections.


It has been well documented that stressful environments can temporarily weaken the immune system, leaving the subject vulnerable to viral or bacterial infections. Space travel is certainly a stressful environment, with the presence of microgravity, radiation, and high G forces on launch. While herpes viruses are not a good thing, as they are the cause of many sicknesses including shingles and mononucleosis, there are likely more worrisome and possibly life threatening infections in the body that may flourish in an immune-compromised individual. This is just one more barrier to the idea of long distance space travel, as an infection could be easily passed among a crew living in confined spaces, especially when the subjects are immune-compromised.


Although the level of viral shedding was increased, what factors affect when or how people become sick from these viruses, and is there a way to control that so even if the virus is active, it could not make the person sick?

Painting with Microbes_David Warner_F03

My most successful “painting with microbes” plate was a depiction of the surface origin of life hypothesis. The black blob on top is a cloud depicted with Chemobacterium violaceum, the white blob on the bottom is the “primordial soup” of compounds, precursors to amino acids depticted with Escherichia coli. The yellow streak is a lightning bolt from the storm cloud, which strikes the primordial soup to make amino acids, depticted with Micrococcus luteus. My lightning bolt became slightly contaminated with Chemobacterium violaceum,  due to where I started drawing the lightning.

These were grown on TSA, which is a non-selective, and non-differential

“Does the Gut Microbiome Ever Fully Recover From Antibiotics?’



“Does the Gut Microbiome Ever Fully Recover From Antibiotics?’ Richard Klasco, M.D.

New York Times. December 21, 2018.


Summary: Although most microbes in the “gut’ grow back quickly and normally after stopping the use of antibiotics, there are some which take much longer to grow back, and some which may never grow to the same population density they once were.

This may have unknown effects on the body, but may contribute to certain health ailments, including inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease.


Connection: While microbes are generally thought to be fast growing, we have learned that some grow quite slowly, depending on their metabolism and physiology. If a microbe takes a long time to reach maximum population density, wiping them all out with an antimicrobial may have long term effects that cannot be easily undone by simply ceasing the use of the drug.


Critical Analysis: Without more knowledge on which specific species are affected long term by the use of antibiotics, it is hard to understand the full implications of the research. The human microbiome is a field with increasing focus and attention recently, and understanding the long term effects of some of these antibiotics may contribute to the development of less harmful medications which could help with the ever-growing problem of microbial antibiotic resistance.


Question: Could the use of certain probiotics help restore the population of some of these microbes in the gut following a course of antibiotics?

Michael Goodfellow

Michael Goodfellow is a british professor specializing in the taxonomy of actinobacteria, which is a phylum of bacteria very important to agriculture. Actinobacteria are nitrogen fixers and can be aquatic or terrestrial prokaryotes, but were long thought to actually be fungi due to their ability to decompose organic matter and grow mycelia. Goodfellowiella coeruleoviolacea is a bacterium isolated from soil in Russia. Goodfellowiella coeruleoviolacea is the only species of the genus Goodfellowiella which was discovered by Goodfellow, and was named for Michael Goodfellow after being first published by Preobrazhenskaya and Terekova in 1987. Goodfellow is a former chair of the Bergey’s Manual Trust, which is a group that publishes the Bergey’s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology. Goodfellow received his undergraduate degree as well as post-graduate work at the University of Liverpool. Goodfellow currently studies marine actinobacteria and is the head of the school of biology at the Univeristy of Newcastle, where he currently teaches.







David Warner Introduction

Hello Class!

My name is David Warner and I am a 5th year student in the environmental chemistry program. I am in this class because (apart from fulfilling a requirement for an environmental chemistry concentration) I have read a lot lately of how microbes are observed and even used in environmental processes, particularly those that involve contamination and remediation, which is my area of interest. I have already taken the Beginnings of Microbiology BIO 240 class, and while that is a good class on the fundamentals of microbes, it almost exclusively dealt with the biomedical aspect of microbio. I understand that to be vital to understanding disease, but there are other ways of observing and understanding microbes that were not touched on in that class that I am excited to learn in this class, particularly with Dr. Leigh’s personal work and research on microbes in the environment.