Sniffing out bacteria

TitleSniffing out bacteria: Microbial analysis reveals Neisseria canis present in the nasal passage of a dog

Name– Lauryn Harrod

Description– This paper provides results and research pertaining to the isolation and characterization of Neisseria canis from a dog nasal passage.



Lauryn Harrod-“Mircobial Friends”

For my art project, I was inspired by my two nieces, Eesa and Jojo, to attempt to make a children’s book. The title of my piece, “Microbial Friends’, was intended to emphasize that not all microbes are harmful, as most children are taught. The book itself is made from pieces of cardboard and paper on which I drew the microbes. Unfortunately, it did not turn out even close to the way that I had envisioned, but it still conveys information about microbiology. Each structure of the cell is made from a different material to make it an interactive “touch and feel’ book and to integrate the functions of these structures. Furthermore, I made painfully cheesy rhymes to help myself remember the corresponding functions (it’s difficult to read the writing in the pictures so I included them below). I chose not to include a comprehensive list of functions, however, I tried to include some major ones. For example, the pili are responsible for twitching motility. In contrast, flagella allow the cell to exhibit a tumble and run method of movement and fimbriae can assist with adhesion. The glycocalyx can also be important in adhesion and can prevent dehydration. Lastly, endospores contain and protect genetic information from the cell, which is released when conditions are favorable. I also made the microbes different shapes to help me review cell morphology. For example, the green microbe is coccobacillus, the red is coccus, the blue is irregular and the purple and grey are bacillus.


Feel the sticky fimbriae, numerous and short. They are important for adhesion, and can make a biofilm fort!

Feel the glycocalyx, shiny and silky smooth. It prevents dehydration, and acts similar to glue!

Feel the twisty flagella, extra long and thin. They help the cell move, as it tumbles and runs again!

Feel the pokey pili, long and sticking out. They use twitching motility, to help the cell on its route!

Feel the bumpy endospore, round and in a heap. It protects the information, when the cell goes to sleep!

Painting with Microbes: Lauryn Harrod F03

Lauryn Harrod

Section: F03

Considering my aspirations of achieving an animal-based career, I decided to make a paw print for my microbial art. My intention was to create the basic shape of a dog paw by using darkly colored bacterial colonies. I used the same design for all my art pieces and compared the use of various bacterial species and agar plates.

On my TSA plate, a non-differential medium, I applied Chromobacterium violaceum in order to achieve a black/dark purple color for the paw. The picture of the TSA plate that I included below, was taken one day after inoculation. At this point, the colonies could be somewhat distinguished, which gave a rough texture that simulated the effect of an actual paw print. For my EMB plate, I used Escherichia coli, a Gram-negative bacterium, since this agar selects against Gram-positives. Three days after I had inoculated my plate, I took the picture attached below. Due to the fact that Escherichia coli ferments lactose and produces acid, the pH on the EMB plate was altered and resulted in black colonies with an aesthetic green sheen.

Microbes in the News

Article Link:\

Title: New technique could put electricity-producing bacteria to work

Date: January 25, 2019

Source: Forbes

Author: Jeff Kart

Summary: This article explores research conducted on microbes that can produce electricity. Scientists are hoping to harness the power of these organisms and apply it to tasks such as purifying sewage water. Using dielectrophoresis, the microbes can be categorized in respect to their electrochemical activity so that researchers can select ones that will be most efficient in completing the designated function.

Connections: In class we discussed various characteristics that microbes possess to effectively live in their environment. One of these methods was using electron acceptors other than oxygen, which is especially beneficial in anoxic conditions where oxygen is not readily available. During lecture, we learned about Geobacter, a microbe that pumps its electrons to metals, specifically iron. Researchers in the article mention Geobacter, reporting that it is found in anaerobic conditions and is “the first reported and the most effective electricity producer’. In class we also explored a few applications of electricity-producing microbes,N such as powering batteries in deep sea studies.

Critical Analysis: Although we briefly covered electrogenic microbes in class, I was interested further in their applications. This article provided some compelling supplementary information to what we previously covered in lecture. For me, the most intriguing parts of the reading were the technique they used to assess electrochemical activity as well as potential uses for electrogenic microbes. Although harnessing the power of these bacteria might be a large feat, it seems worthwhile to pursue. Considering that the article seemed consistent with basic knowledge of the chemistry pertaining to electrons and the information taught in lecture, I would argue that it was scientifically sound and would be a reasonable way to convey science to the public. Furthermore, I appreciated that the author asserted that microbes do not have solely negative implications, despite public perception. However, I think it would have been beneficial if the author went into more detail on how this research could be applied to the examples he gave, such as purifying sewage water.

Question: Does the MIT technique used to categorize bacteria by electrochemical activity have other potential uses in terms of microbial studies? Furthermore, could microbes have different applications based on their varying electrochemical activity levels?

Microbes in the News

Article Link:

Title: Germs in your gut are talking to your brain. Scientists want to know what they’re saying.

Date: January 28, 2019

Source: The New York Times

Author: Carl Zimmer

Summary: In this article, Carl Zimmer describes how scientists have begun considering the role of microbes in behavior and their connection to the brain. Recent evidence suggests that the microbiome could have connections to mental health conditions. Several experiments have been conducted to study this hypothesis. For example, a study conducted by Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli found that some mice that showed autism symptoms lacked a specific microbe. In other studies, the presence of microbes was associated with various brain related conditions.

Connections: As we covered in the history portion of class, our understanding of microbiology has increased over time and we have acquired an increasing amount of technology, which is monumental in our study of microbes. Although microbiologists in previous centuries have made fundamental contributions to our current knowledge, we are continually better equipped to make observations on the functions and effects of microbes. This article highlights this reality, as the author discusses how recently the hypotheses and research discussed have begun to be accepted. In class we have also discussed the prevalence of microbes and how we have barely scratched the surface on understanding all there is to know about them.

Critical analysis: Overall, I found it interesting that microbes could potentially be involved in brain components, as I have never considered this type of connection. I was compelled by the research that was mentioned in this article, especially concerning the suspected role of microbiology in depression and anxiety disorders. More specifically, one part of the reading that fascinated me was that mice that are given fecal transplants from individuals with major depression are more likely to demonstrate depressive tendencies.

Although the article was very intriguing, most of the comments were based on speculation, and consequently, there were a minimal number of concrete conclusions. The scientists that were included in the article recognized their lack of knowledge regarding the connection between microbiology and the brain, as well as the limitations of their research. However, this did not seem to take away from the scientific accuracy or importance of the research and the foundation it can provide for future studies. By recognizing the limits of the research, I think that the article communicated the information to the public well because it showed that science is not always as definitive as some people seem to think, especially upon initially exploring topics. Furthermore, the text was mostly void of scientific jargon and condensed into an easy to digest article.

Question: Relatively early in the article, the author asserts “none of these associations proves cause and effect’ regarding some initial research he describes. Considering this, can any of the research mentioned in this article strongly support a connection between microbes and brain and behavior mechanisms? If not, how might the role of microbes be incorporated into alternative hypotheses to explain their apparent associations with the brain?

Microbes in the News

Title: For zombie microbes, deep-sea buffet is just out of reach

Date: January 22, 2019

Website: ScienceDaily

Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Link to Article:

Summary: This article discusses microbes below the ocean floor that posses some odd characteristics, such as slow-motion growth. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution performed some research on these curious microbes and found that the organisms are not fully utilizing molecules available in their environment. Although the microbes should be able to take advantage of the carbon in the sediment, as it is in a form that they are able to metabolize, they fail to do so. One researcher concluded that the microbes can not access the molecules because they are physically too far away. Moreover, the microbes don’t have sufficient energy to acquire the sporadically located molecules. This research could potentially aid in obtaining further knowledge on not only microbes, but other organisms as well.

Connections: As we have been discussing in both lecture and lab, microbes need specific conditions to survive and reproduce. For example, various agar plates, with differing quantities of ingredients and nutrients, are used to cultivate microbes. The research in this article demonstrates the vast deviance that microbes have from one another. While some need constant access to high levels of nutrients, others, like the ones discussed in the article, can survive by other means. It is vital to be aware of and comprehend these differences when working with microbes both in and out of the lab.

Critical analysis: This article initially caught my eye because of the bizarre title, and I was further intrigued to learn about these microbe’s survival. I was aware that microbes inhabit a prodigious range of environments, however, this article opened my eyes to just how much microbes utilize various resources. Furthermore, I usually associate microbes with rapid reproduction, however, this research reveals that it can take years for cell division to occur. Overall, the article and the research backing it seem scientifically sound. However, from my perspective, this article was slightly misleading, and therefore failed to accurately communicate science to the public. Although I recognize the use of the term “zombie microbes’ in regard to the article, I was expecting different content within the text. I think individuals may incorrectly attribute features to the microbes based on phrases used in reference to the microbes “zombie-like’ characteristics.

Question: The article mentions that the microbial geochemist, Colleen Hansel, asserts “this research may help us understand some of the limitations on life in general’. What applications might this research have in helping us gain information about the world around us (i.e. give an example)?

Jules Bordet

Bordetella pertussis was first discovered in 1900 by two Belgian scientists, Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou. However, the bacterium was named solely after Bordet. Bordet studied in Brussels and in 1892, graduated as a Doctor of Medicine. Bordet had extensive knowledge on bacteriology as well as immunology. Early in his studies, he worked with antimicrobic sera. Later, Bordet and Gengou found a bacterium in a 5-month-old child afflicted with pertussis, or whooping cough. The bacterium that they observed showed similarities to Haemophilus influenzae but differed morphologically. As a result, they concluded that it was a separate bacterium and that it was responsible for whooping cough, which Guillaume de Baillou described in 1578.

When studying Bordetella pertussis, the two scientists had to create a unique medium for the bacterium to grow on as it could not be isolated on a typical agar plate. They were able to isolate the first pertussis bacillus from Bordet’s son, Paul, who had whooping cough. Bordet and Gengou studied the microbe that they had isolated and described their observations and findings in their paper “Le microbe de la coqueluche’ which translates to ‘the cough microbe’. Bordetella pertussis is quite aptly named considering Bordet’s contribution to its discovery and the fact that “pertussis’ means ‘violent cough’, a term coined in 1670 by English physician Thomas Sydenham.


Finger, H., & Von Koenig, C. H. (1996, January 01). Bordetella. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from

Jules Bordet: Biographical. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2019, from

Lee, J. (n.d.). Jules Bordet and the Discovery of Bordetella pertussis. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from Pertussis-Discovery.asp

A1 Intro Post: Lauryn Harrod

Hello, my name is Lauryn Harrod. I am currently a junior and am working towards my Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with a concentration in physiology. I am interested in a career that involves animals, whether through conservation, zoology, research, veterinarian medicine or another field. When not studying, I enjoy outdoor activities and hanging out with my dogs. Below are some pictures of my dog Keeva helping me study microbiology with her not so microscopic microbe toys (E. coli, bubonic plague, and the cold virus).