Isolation and Characterization of an Unknown Sauna Microbe_Hammond

Title:  Isolation and Characterization of an Unknown Sauna Microbe

Description: After spending time in the UAF sauna, I felt it was imperative to identify what types of microbes are harbored there. Using DNA sequencing and physiological tests, my study   identified and characterized a bacterium that is commonly found in various environments all over the world, yet surprisingly found in a public facility.

Isolation And Characterization Of An Unknown Sauna Microbe_final


Infected Flies

Artist statement:

Fly fishing is a major hobby of mine, and has become an art to me from the casting to the development of flies. For my art project, I wanted to create a visual art using the art of fly tying to resemble microbial structures, species, and processes. I also wanted to include the smallest flies that are regularly used for fly fishing.

1) T4 bacteriophage

Using pheasant feathers, goose feathers, rooster saddle hackle, black floss, and tinsel, I developed a fly to resemble a T4 bacteriophage. The Pheasant feathers are supposed to look like the head, the black saddle hackle on top is analogous to the virus’s collar, while the bottom hackle is analogous to the base plate, the black floss with wrapped tinsel is the tail with DNA (tinsel), and the stripped goose feathers   is supposed to resemble the tail fibers of the virus.

2) Giardia lamblia

The species this fly is resembling is the protozoan, Giardia lamblia, the cause of giadiasis. I developed this fly using guinea hackle, rooster hackle, dyed golden pheasant, floss, and peacock herl. Since Giardia is a single eukaryotic cell, I wanted to use guinea to represent the nucleus of   the cell as well as represent the median body. The black rooster saddle hackle represents the anterior, posterior, and caudal flagella. To create a base for the feathers I used peacock herl and dyed golden pheasant to give structural integrity to the fly, and help support the flailing of the saddle hackle.

3) Conjugation

This is an articulated fly that demonstrates the first step of conjugation, where a pilus (orange rubber) connects two cells together. The pink portion of the fly is wrapped with dyed pink rabbit hair, that is analogous to a gram negative bacteria. Connected to the pink portion, is the gram positive cell that was made using black peacock to represent flagella and purple synthetic dubbing to represent the cell body.

4) Gram positive bacteria

This fly represents a gram positive coccobacillus cell with flagella. The fly was created using dyed purple rabbit hair and orange red rubber strip to represent the flagella. I actually caught a trout on this fly on Prince of Wales Island in March.

5) Size 22 mises shrimp and size 24 midge  

I wanted to include these flies to represent how small flies can be and still be effective. I caught a 20 inch brown trout in Colorado with the top fly and hooked quite a few with the bottom fly. Including these flies may even give size relativity. All of the microbial flies I tied were made on streamer hooks,   which are much larger than size 22 and 24 hooks. However, in reality the microbes represented on   the streamer hooks are thousands of times smaller than these flies!

A2: Microbes in the News #3_ HAMMOND


— Article and link: Men with beards carry more germs than dogs with deadly bacteria in their facial hair, study reveals

Written by: Padraic Flanagan for the Daily Mail (peer reviewed article)


— Summary:  A recent study conducted in Switzerland found that men’s beard had significantly higher amounts of bacteria compared to dogs fur. The goal of this study was to find if humans could confer dog borne diseases from MRI scanners that had just been used for dogs. They took the swabs of 18 men’s beards and 30 dogs’ necks. They found that only 23 of the 30 dogs had high microbial counts, while all 18 men had high microbial counts, and 7 of these men had microbes that are pathogenic to humans.  However, Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front, which opposes discrimination against beards, doesn’t believe it, and says the results stem from pogonophobia, the fear of beards.


— Connections: This highlights the principle of Ubiquity we talked about in class, “everything is everywhere, but, the environment selects.’ Interestingly, a human beard harbors more bacteria than dogs fur. This is possibly due to the beard being so close to the mouth, allowing more food availability, resulting in a more advantageous environment for microbes.


— Critical analysis: I found this story interesting because beards are apparently fashionable in our society and I cant grow them. I was surprised that men’s beards had significantly higher microbial communities than dogs coats, especially since humans bathe more than dogs. However, I think this report has some inaccuracies and didn’t account for some externalities,  such as; how much the men showered, what they last ate, or other lifestyle habits. Overall, this article was well written and was easy to understand for people not in the scientific community. After reviewing the journal article, I think the researchers did a good job inhibiting cross contamination, using men of varying ages, and using comparing microbail counts in common dog breeds. However, I think they should have included more men in the study to equal the number of dogs.


— Question:  Since beards are near the mouth, that allows more opportunity for food particulates to be in the beard, which would increase microbial growth because of the food source. My question is how would this compare to urogenital hair across different genders or comparing the results to hair on the underside of dogs, where they lay?

A2: Microbes in the News #2_ Hammond

  • Mass amphibian extinctions globally caused by fungal disease
  • Australian National University, March 28th, 2019


  • Summary:Chytridiomycosis, is a flesh eating disease caused by the Asian fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or chytrid. While Asian amphibians have conferred resistance to this disease, this invasive fungus has been decimating amphibians in Australia, Central America, and South America due to the increase of wildlife trade and globalism. According to Dr. Ben Scheele, this is substantially decreasing amphibian biodiversity in those regions. Furthermore, this disease has caused mass amphibian extinctions worldwide. In order to decrease the prevalence of this disease, Dr. Scheele advocates improving biosecurity and increasing wildlife trade regulations. However, it is likely the world will see on going amphibian declines over the next decade from Chytridiomycosis.


  • Connections:This story connects to what we’ve learned in class by highlighting pathogenic microbes and the virulence of the chytrid fungus.


  • Critical analysis:I found this article to be interesting from a political standpoint and a scientific standpoint. This article highlights how globalism can be detrimental to environments. The Asian chytrid fungus, generally is ineffective to Asian amphibians, however, those amphibians can act as a reservoir for this fungus and can affect amphibians in other regions, if they come in contact. From a scientific standpoint, it is fascinating how a fungus that is commensal to Asian amphibians is pathogenic to amphibians all over the world. Its unfortunate American and Australian amphibians cannot undergo genetic exchange with Asian amphibians to increase their resistance. This story was scientifically correct, and was presented well to communicate their findings to the public without confusion. It did not include any convoluted immunity responses the general public would not understand and it was short and to the point.


  • Question:After reading this story, I am interested to see how this affects North American amphibians, specifically in the Arctic, such as the woodland frog. The woodland frog is a physiological anomaly in that it has the ability to essentially freeze itself in the winter and “thaw out’ during the spring. Could this fungus make its way to Alaska and decimate the woodland frog population?






With the new season of game of thrones upon us, I was motivated to draw the Stark sigil of a Dire wolf. I used E.coli since it appears dark on Eosin Methylene blue agar plate. I chose this media because it selects for E.coli to grow black, which contrasted nicely with the background. The media didnt change color.


As an avid fly fisherman and fly tier, I was motivated to use my own isolate strain in conjunction with an unknown white colony to produce a fly. I used TSA plate, which is not differential and did not change color, as the media to draw.



A2: Microbes in the news 1 kraig hammond

Bacteria could be making China’s smog worse: Microorganisms that may be harmful to human health are multiplying and thickening Beijing’s pollution haze, experts warn


Victoria Bell, February 5, 2019



Guidelines for creating a post:

—  Summary:   Bacteria found in the smog covering Beijing is multiplying leading to thickening pollution haze, and aversive health effects. Professor Maosheng Yao from Peking University found that when the haze was worse, there was a far larger amount of bacteria found. This is due to the increased availability of pollutant chemicals in the air like sulphates, and nitrates that microbes can feed on. Unfortunately, this is not good because it allows microbes to release volatile organic chemicals as waste, leading to more disease and worse allergies.

—  Connections:  This connects to what we have learned in class by citing the ubiquity of microbes, and their ability to survive as particulates in the air. It also mentions how they can feed on different energy sources, such as organics and inorganics.

—  Critical analysis:  I found this story interesting because with pollution being a major cause of respiratory problems, I wonder if Mycobacterium tuberculosis could gain traits of these airborne microbiomes through conjugation and become super bug killings millions of people. I think this story is scientifically accurate because it factually states how microbes can affect people and how they can proliferate. This article did a fantastic job communication science to the public because it is easy to read, logical, and does not throw a bunch of unnecessary biological processes.


—  Question: Is it possible that a deadly airborne bacteria can inherit these traits through conjugation and become antibiotic resistant?

A3: Epithet Epitaphs Kraig Hammond

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the major cause of the sexually transmitted disease, Gonorrhea (Quillin & Sefert, 2018). The bacterium is named after its discoverer, German physician, Albert Neisser in 1879 (Ligon, 2005). Using methyl violet, Neisser stained smears from 35 men and nine women who were symptomatic of pus discharge from inflamed urethras. With advances in microscopy, Neisser was able to identify the smears as “solitary individuals packed together to appear as a single organism. At age 24, he published his findings, and his name was given to the genus. (Ligon, 2005). Neisser’s research mostly focused on gonorrhea and leprosy. The genus Neisseria, is named after Albert Neisser;  gonorrhoeae, is named after Galen’s term gonorrhea meaning, “flow of seed’, which describes the penile discharge in the infection (Wikipedia, 2019). Neisser’s other contribution to science came directly after his discovery. In 1879, Neisser visited Norwegian physician, G Armauer Hansen, who was studying leprosy. Hansen speculated that leprosy was caused by a bacterium rather than as an inherited trait. Neisser took some of Hansen’s tissues back to Germany and used modern staining techniques to identify a rod-shaped bacilli. He went on to publish but was met with controversy, being accused of stealing Hansen’s discovery. In the end, Neisser was credited of being a co-discoverer of the leprosy causing bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae. Neisser advocated for regulating prostitution and providing health education. He was nominated for the Nobel prize numerous times, but never won (Ligon, 2005).He died in 1916 of septicaemia.


Ligon, B. L. (2005). Albert Ludwing Sigesmund Neisser: Discoverer of the Cause of Gonorrhea. Seminars in Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 336-341.

Quillin, S., & Sefert, H. S. (2018). Neisseria gonorroeae host adaptation and pathogenesis. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 226-240.

Wikipedia. (2019, January 10). Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Retrieved from Wikipedia:



A1 introductions: Kraig Hammond

My name is Kraig Hammond, I am a senior at UAF, currently studying bio-physiology and Arctic Survival. This is my last semester as an undergrad, and I hope to gain admittance into medical school and become a orthopedic surgeon, or infectious disease doctor.   I decided to take microbiology because it plays a critical role in all fields of biology, and is key to many biological processes. Furthermore, understanding microorganisms is essential for the medical field, both for pathology and treatment of diseases. My fascination with microorganisms was sparked by an experience I had while I was on a remote river in Alaska. I had contracted a staph infection from a national wrestling tournament a week prior that lied dormant in my knee’s bursa sac . While on my remote float/ fly fishing trip, my bursa sac popped and sent the infection into my blood stream causing me to go into septic shock. I remember how fast the infection took my body and debilitated me, causing systemic pain, disorientation, and left me unable to move. I lost consciousness at 5pm on the middle of a 52 mile remote river   and awoke the next morning in the ICU in Anchorage unaware of how I got there. I spent the next 10 days in the ICU, undergoing blood platelet transfusions, and trying to rid the infection in my body.