A2: Microbes in the News 3


Title: Is it Illegal to Refuse to Vaccinate Your Kid in New York? This Court Says Yes.

Source: Gizmodo; Date: 4.19.2019

Summary: The article explains that there is a measles outbreak in New York, so the Mayor declared a state of emergency. In response to this, the health commissioner mandated that in the areas with the highest breakout of measels, children must be vaccinated. Some conserned mothers filled a complaint with the court against this mandate, but it was upheld because their claims that the vaccinations were harmful were not upheld.

Connections: A few weeks ago we learned about vaccinations. We learned babout how they work, what they target, and why some people are wary against their use.

Critical Analysis: I thought this article was well written, and explained the situation well. It wasn’t an article that had a lot of language barriers, so I felt that anyone who read this article could understand it efficiently. It also touched on the point that vaccinations are not harmful to people, which I feel is very important.

Question: Are there any other areas that have mandated that people and their children must be vaccinated?

Art Project: Microbes Rule the World

Title: Microbes Rule the World

By: Samantha Pershing

Media: I used fine tipped markers to complete this project.

Artist’s Statement: During this semester I have really gotten an appreciation for how much microbes impact the world. Without microbes completing the nitrogen and carbon cycle, creating nutrients for other organisms, or even cleaning up after our mistakes, the world could not function as it does now. I wanted to make a project that really showed this. For my art project, I used pointillism (where you use dots to create a picture [i.e. no lines]) to draw a scene that you would look at when you are first looking into a microscope through the eyepieces, and both of your eyes are still seeing two different parts of the picture. I wanted to use pointillism to symbolize microbes, even though microbes are not always coccus. I drew on one side of the picture a Gram stain that my bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, created that reminded me of a picture of a flower. The other side was a drawing of the world. I wanted this drawing to symbolize a few key concepts. One, the microbes that we identified in our projects all have their own unique place in the world. They are all not just bacteria in a petri dish, but microbes that affect how this world functions. That is why the two scenes are overlapping. And two, I wanted to depict that we do not know everything about the world. There are so many different aspects that are still a mystery. Therefore, I made the world sort of breaking out of its confinement to signify this. Overall, I am really happy with how this picture turned out, and I hope you guys like it too.

Credit: I used the Earth picture from this website as a template for my Earth: https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/blue-marble-without-clouds/

Also, here is my picture that I took of Staphylococcus aureus:

A2: Microbes in the News (Post 2)

Harnessing Soil Microbes to Enhance Crop Performance


March 28, 2019


This article explains that some organizations (the organization they used as an example was the Agriculture and Food Development Authority (TEAGASC)) have been using bacteria to modify different plants’ genome. This has been done for a while using Agrobacterium tumefaciens, but because of limitations, they were looking into alternative bacteria that could perform the same function. They found a bacterium, Ensifer adherens, which can modify a plant’s genome easier than A. tumefaciens. Plants treat A. tumefaciens as something to guard against, which makes modifying certain plants difficult because some plants have a resistance. On the other hand, many plants recognize E. adherens as a symbiotic bacterium. As such, they do not have the same resistance as they do with the A. tumefaciens. The article then discusses some practical applications that E. adherens has been used for already.

We have been covering in class recently how humans control the growth of bacteria with many different antibacterial methods. I found it interesting that even plants have antibacterial methods that make them resilient to certain strains of bacteria. I believe that this story was scientifically accurate, I just would have liked more information on how E. adherens differed from A. tumefaciens to result in more of a symbiotic relationship. Although, I believe that editing out all of the information would make it so a wider variety of audience would be more likely to read the article. All in all, I found this article interesting and informative.

My question is: Is there any other widely-used bacterium that has been identified that can genetically modify plants?


Painting with Microbes- Silent Night

Name: Silent Night

Artist: Samantha Pershing

Lab Section: F01


This artwork was supposed to represent a moose walking around during a snowy night. I wanted both the moose and the moon to stand out. As such, I chose bacteria for the moon that would turn black and bacteria that was supposed to turn pink for the moose. Sadly, though, the moose was not pink in this picture. I believe that it didn’t have enough time to do so because later I went back and the moose was a different color. Although, when I went back and took pictures later the bacteria that represent the snow grew too big and didn’t look good to me. I chose to then to upload this picture even though the moose was about the same color as the rest of the artwork because I liked it better.

The role of media:

I chose to use TSA because it wasn’t differential or selectional, which means all types of the bacteria we could choose from could grow with this media. Also, I didn’t want the color that you get from using EMB or MacConkey’s agar to show up because I wanted a snowy scenery (which meant I needed light colors and a whitish background).


A2: Microbes in the News- Phytoplankton




This article explains that the World’s oceans are going to change color as a result of climate change. Researchers point out that the base of the food chain in the oceans is phytoplankton. With an increase in water temperature, the phytoplankton will die, resulting in an ocean that is not as green (as phytoplankton have green pigment from the chloroplasts). This article also explained that by using the color of the ocean one can deduce the population of phytoplankton, therefore getting more data on how global warming is affecting the world.


We have been learning in class the different properties of microorganisms. Right now we are learning how the metabolism works. By understanding this concept, I can use my knowledge to fully understand how an increase in temperature would affect the microorganism’s ability to acquire food and survive. Furthermore, we have been learning in class how different microorganisms can change the environment that they are in.

Critical Analysis

I found this story interesting because I liked the concept that you could tell the population of an organism, like phytoplankton, by looking at the color of the water. Although, I can see many variables in trying to actually test this idea. There are many things that can change the color of something, especially in the ocean, so I don’t see how they could do this. I think that this article did a fine job of relaying information to the general public so they could understand topics that they might not have any experience dealing with it. On the other hand, that means that this article most likely left out many concepts that the general public wouldn’t understand, but I would find interesting.


What is the main reason why an increase in temperature of a few degrees would kill phytoplankton?


Epithet Epitaphs: Devosia

Professor Dr. Paul De Vos was the inspiration for the genus name Devosia, a type of bacteria which is rod-shaped and moves around using flagella. There is no other meaning to the name then being used to celebrate De Vos and his contribution to science.

De Vos is a microbiologist who, according to LM-UGent, focuses on bacterial biodiversity, evolution and taxonomy, identification and detection. He is a professor at University Ghent. At the university, De Vos is the head of the department which identified many species of bacteria. The bacteria collection currently has more than 23000 strains, which represent more than 500 genera and 3500 species. He has also written and co-written around 170 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Devosia was named after him because of his contribution to the classification of gram-negative bacteria.



“Prof. Dr. Paul De Vos.” LM-UGENT. 26 Jan. 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Paul_De_Vos5.

“Paul De Vos.” Wikipedia. 26 Jan. 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_De_Vos.


A1: Intro Post – Samantha Pershing

Hello, my name is Samantha Pershing. I am a senior doing my final semester, with a major in biology and a minor in justice. My interest include: hanging with friends, reading, listening to music (everything but metal (my favorite artist is Frank Sinatra)), and playing with my dogs (the picture is my dog, Daisy Duke). My fascination with microbiology is focused on viruses, and how they work.