An exploration of microbes present in the blood of processed moose

I isolated a bacterium from the blood of a package of locally packaged moose meat. Using bioinformatic systems and physiological tests, I attempted to classify the bacterium found. I narrowed the possibilities to two organisms: Macrococcus caseolyticus  or Staphylococcus auerus, and compare and contrast the two using my own observations and support from scientific literature.


You can access my paper here:


An image of my Krona Chart, obtained from the online bioinformatic server: KAIJU




My name is Joesi Lou Zastrow and I wrote a song, my first one, entitled Earthen.

This song was inspired by the microbial processes in the hereafter; and to those that came before, in order to make life possible. Microbial decomposition is essential to global nutrient and carbon cycling and is responsible for the return of all decomposable materials back to the earth, including us. Another concept included in the song is the estimation that the human body is made up of as many bacterial cells as human cells, “I am only half of me.’

I hope you enjoy it, I had a lot of fun with it.


Easing back into the earth,

Giving my thanks to the dirt

To be turned into past,

Beautiful cause we don’t last


I hope in life to understand

Just half as much as what’s on the palm

Of my hand


Feeling lost but I’ll be found

When returned to sweet ground

Broken down, rebuilt ain’t it profound


And I’d say I’ll miss this

But the only thing I won’t be missing are my bones


And I wonder where these parts of me will be

A million years away,

A lovely mystery

But after all, I’m only half of me


I am of and will return,

Assisted by a friendly little world

I am of and will return,

Assisted by a friendly little world


How variations in bacterial composition of gut flora can influence health outcomes

Microbes in the News 2

Article & Link

Same Microbe, Different Effect


This article discusses a study written by two scientists, Dr. David Zeeli and Dr. Tal Korem. These researchers created an algorithm designed to identify the variations in flora makeup across human gut microbiomes.   They ran tests on an Israeli group of 900 individuals and then formed a partnership with some Dutch researchers to identify variants in a second population. They found that most of the same variant groups were present in each population, regardless of the differences in the makeup of the two populations. They identified variants within the groups and correlated the presence of certain microbes with patterns in health outcomes. More research is being conducted in support of the idea that there is a strong link between the health and composition of our gut flora and our overall health. This study utilized an approach for analyzing the biomes that will allow scientists to closely examine this suggested linkage.


In class we discussed how there are a few recognizable and uniquely composed groups of gut flora that make up the majority of variation in composition of gut bacteria across human microbiomes. The article covered a study delving into uncovering how those groups are identified, and how correlations can be drawn using their method in order to dissect differences in gut microbes and the impacts those variations have on health outcomes. They also discuss the mechanisms by which these variations arise, such as gene transfer which we also covered in class.


Critical Analysis

I thought that this study did a great job of breaking down a complicated study into bite size chunks that are easy to understand. The article gave an example from the research which described the relationship between a certain microbial species present and waist sizes. The mechanism behind this correlation appears to be that the group of individuals with smaller waist sized have microbiomes containing a certain microbe that is able to turn sugars into a substance called butyrate that has a positive effect on the metabolism. This is an example of a pathway that has a benefit for the host individual. One can see, through this example, how the mechanisms of variants of bacteria can have significant effects on health.

Microbial Artistry

Joesi Lou Zastrow F01 This piece was inspired by a 70’s color theme and aimed to capture an abstract skyline… The colors are a bit less intense than those shown on the photograph. This piece was plated on EMB using Escherichia coli and Enterobacter aerogenes.   Both chosen are gram-negative bacteria in consideration that EMB …

A2: The Link Between Gut Bacteria and Mental Well Being

Science Magazine, Published February 4, 2019.


After a study of mice suggested that the composition of gut microbes can have an affect on behavior, scientists In Europe conducted several relatively large human studies to attempt discover a link between gut bacteria and mental health conditions in humans. It was found that the gut microbiomes of depressed people lacked two strains of bacteria that were present in the non-depressed groups. One of the strains absent in those with depression was found to have a pathway related to dopamine, more research is needed to understand the extent of the relationship.


In class we discuss the overwhelming presence of microbes and how they affect processes such as the breakdown of organic and inorganic materials. We also discuss how intertwined the lives of humans are with that of bacteria. Many of our bodily functions, including digestion, are ruled by bacteria. This study is an application of the knowledge of bacteria breakdown and production of certain substrates and how those processes interact with human function.

Critical Analysis:

As someone who has experimented with natural remedies for mood disorders, I found myself pulled towards this subject. I am fascinated by the fact there was a clear difference in the composition of the gut microbes in individuals exhibiting depressive symptoms versus those who did not. I wonder which direction the relationship goes. If depression creates an environment in which these bacteria cannot prosper, or if the lack of these bacteria may be in part responsible for depressive symptoms. I think that the article successfully conveyed the findings of the studies in a way that the general public can understand. I think the author was responsible in that she presented the factual information, made connections to other studies, and presented a conclusion that supports more research being done before a causal link can be defined.



I wonder how the long term use of antibiotics affects the health of the gut microbiome?




Bartolomeo Bizio

Bizio was an Italian naturalist born in 1791 in a village near Vicenza. He was the son of a tailor who failed to follow in his fathers footsteps, and instead chose to become apprenticed to a local chemist. Taking a great interest in the chemical composition of the natural materials surrounding him, he is now regarded as being quite revolutionary. During his time he published more than 100 papers. Perhaps most notably, he conducted a series of experiments which culminated in the discovery of a bacteria which he dubbed Serratia marcescenssent. In a letter addressed to the “most Eminent Priest, Angelo Bellani,” Bizio demystified the phenomenon of the appearance of what was thought to be a spontaneously created red matter in corn meal that many in the religious community attributed to the “blood of christ.”

To honor his contributions to the field of microbiology a genera of species, Bizionia, are named after him. Among these species are a recently discovered bacteria,  




Hello all, my name is Joesi Zastrow. I’m a lifelong Alaskan resident and a fourth year student at UAF hoping to graduate in the spring of next year with my B.S. in Biological Sciences. In my free time I am outdoors as much as possible. I love experimenting in the kitchen and have been following a plant-based diet for almost 2 years. I love the idea of world travel and immersion in other cultures, and am considering joining the Peace Corps once I graduate. I’m excited to learn more about how the world works, at this level that I don’t often consider. Cheers!


Joesi Lou Zastrow