Epithet Epitaph- Nocardia (Edmond Nocard)


Edmond Nocard.


Nocardiosis is an gram- positive, aerobic Actinomycete caused by a bacteria originally discovered by Edmond Nocard. This bacteria is commonly found in soil and water, and is known to affect the brain, lungs, and skin. This bacteria is usually found in areas of decay, such as standing water, decaying plants, and soils. It can be transmitted to humans by inhaling contaminated dust particulates, or getting some infected dirt into an open wound. Most often Nocardiosis will show up as a lung infection, and can rapidly spread throughout the body.

The man who discovered Nocardia, Edmond Nocard, was a French veterinarian and microbiologist born in 1850. Nocard went to veterinary school in France, and eventually joined the army in 1871. In 1978, he became the professor of pathology and clinical surgery. Nocard went on to become an assistant in the lab of Louis Pasteur. He helped in many experiments, including anthrax vaccinations in animals. He travelled to Egypt to isolate Cholera, but was unsuccessful. He eventually went on to develop techniques such as harvesting blood serum, creating new culture media for bacillus of T.B., and introduced anesthesia of large animals with chloro hydrate. Nocard’s main medical contribution was the of Nocardia, originally named Streptothrix farcinica, which tends to manifest itself in bovine, but can be found in humans as well. Edmond was rewarded in 1887 for his scientific discoveries, with the title director of the school, and he was given chair of Pasteur Institute.



“Edmond Nocard.’  Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.  23 Jan. 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmond_Nocard

“History of Bovine TB.’  TB Free England.  23 Jan. 2019. https://www.tbfreeengland.co.uk/assets/4148

“Nocardosis” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 23 Jan. 2019. https://www.cdc.gov /nocardosis/transmission/index.html.


Howard Taylor Ricketts

Howard Taylor Ricketts was an American pathologist for whom the Rickettsiaceae family, Rickettsiales order, Rickettsia genus, and Rickettsia rickettsii bacteria are named after.   The genus of Rickettsia is the largest within the Rickettsiaceae family and includes rickettsialpox, other spotted fevers, epidemic typhus, and murine typhus.   Rickettsia rickettsii is a gram-negative, intercellular, coccobacillus bacterium approximately 0.8-2.0 micrometers long that was identified in 1907 by Howard Taylor Ricketts.   R. rickettsia was the first of the Rickettsiales to be identified, is the causative agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and is the most pathogenic of the Rickettsia strains.

Howard Taylor Ricketts was born in Findlay, Ohio February 9, 1871.   He grew up in Nebraska, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1894.   He went on to receive his medical degree from Northwestern University in 1897, where he conducted research on blastomycosis.  To study the side effects of the pathogens he was researching Howard Ricketts would inject himself with the pathogens.   During this time Ricketts worked as an intern in the Cook County Hospital in Chicago.   From 1899-1901 he worked as a fellow in cutaneous pathology in Rush Medical College, also working in the dermatological clinic.   Howard Ricketts married Myra Tubbs in 1900.   They had two children together, a boy and a girl.     Myra was supportive of his work, took interest in his research and provided him with steady encouragement.

In 1901, his research earned him a teaching offer from the University of Chicago’s Department of Pathology and Bacteriology.   Before accepting the offer, Ricketts traveled to Paris to study at the Pasteur Institute, returning in 1902 to teach and continue his research.

Ricketts took up researching Rocky Mountain spotted fever as a hobby in 1906 to pass the time during an enforced holiday.   He was quickly drawn in by the fascinating pathogen, promptly discovering R. rickettsii is communicable to lower animals and that the Rocky Mountain wood tick, which naturally lives on larger animals, can transmit the disease from a sick animal to a healthy one through its bite.   It has sense been found that the American dog tick and Brown dog ticks are also common carriers.   Through experiments Ricketts also discovered R. rickettsii can be transmitted through the feces of an infected host to a healthy one by ingestion or the feces coming in contacted with broken skin.   Infected female ticks can pass the R. rickettsii gene to their offspring.

In 1909 an outbreak of murine-carried typhus in Mexico caught Ricketts attention due to the apparent similarities between it and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.   In December he traveled with his assistant to Mexico City to help in the research where his research of R. rickettsii was crucial in helping discover the cause and vector of the marine-carried typhus.   On April 23, 1910 they made the announcement the discovery of the micro-organism, in the blood of patients and in the insects of human body lice.   Howard Taylor Ricketts died May 3, 1910 in Mexico of typhus.


Hektoen, L. 1910. “Howard Taylor Ricketts Memorial Address at University of Chicago’. Today in Science. 20 Jan 2019.


“Howard Taylor Ricketts.’ Building for a Long Future Exhibit. The University of Chicago Library. 20 Jan. 2019.


“Howard Taylor Ricketts.’ Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 20 Jan. 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Taylor_Ricketts

“Rickettsia rickettsii.’  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 20 Jan. 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rickettsia_rickettsii




A2 Microbes in the News

Article and link

“Gene expression study sheds new light on African Salmonella’
Science Daily, January 15, 2019 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190115144045.htm

Further Reading: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30645593



A variant of Salmonella typhimurium (ST) 313 is responsible for the deaths of approximately 400,000 persons ever year in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers at the University of Liverpool are attempting to understand how the genome of African S. typhimurium, which enters the bloodstream and spreads through the body, differs from the global strains of S. typhimurium which causes gastroenteritis.

By culturing the different Salmonella strains in different environments they could simulate differences of stages within the human infectious timeline. They then analyzed the transcriptome of these two strains and found a multitude of gene expression variations as well as RNA variations. These coincided with metabolic and plasmid differences within the two strains.


This correlates with the information that we have learned about variations in culture mediums in class. As well as what we will be going over in lab. The ability to culture this bacterium in different environments allowed for the researchers to study the gene expression at essentially different time frames in the bacterial life cycle. Say, from an environment similar to that outside of the human body, and then an environment within the human body.

Critical Analysis

What I found interesting in this article is that the phenotypic expression of genes within one strain has caused such a different in its ability to act as a pathogen. I also never thought of culturing microbes in different environments to simulate gene expression. I just thought you would culture them in their ideal environment and study them as such. Thinking about it now, it makes a great deal of sense to do this, not only to study the activity of pathogens, but to perhaps study microbes and why they fit into their respective niches.

The forum for this article is a scientific forum, and though it is technical it is written in a way that someone who isn’t specifically a microbiologist (such as myself) can understand what is being studied and the accomplishments that this group of researchers have made.


The question that I have is a technical one. How is it that they were able to find out the gene expression of these bacterium from culture? I know that the genome can be sequenced using various methods, but how would one know or ascertain which portions of that genome are being expressed at any given time.

-Samantha Smith

A3: Epithet Epitaphs

Coxiella burnetii is a gram-negative rod shaped bacteria first isolated in the 1930s by both Frank MacFarlane Burnet and Herald Rea Cox. Though both Burnet and Cox isolated this bacterium in 1930s they did so independently. While Burnet and his associates were working on the isolation of  the pathogen associated with Query Fever in Australia, Cox was working on the isolation of the pathogen in Nine Mile Valley of Montana. Thus, the bacteria was renamed from Rickettsia burnetii to Coxiella burnetii in 1948 once it was realized that the two research groups were working on the same pathogen (Minnick & Raghaven, 2014)

Given this incidence of naming. There is no Latin Binomial name correlation other than the accreditation of these two researchers with the discovery.

Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1899-1985) was born in Traralgon, Australia. Upon accreditation and finalization of medical school at the University of Melbourne he received his Ph.D. from the University of London. One of his early achievements included developing the technique of culturing viruses in chicken embryos. He also developed the clonal selection theory of antibody formation which laid the foundation for modern immunology. (Britannica) For his work on Immunology and virology he was awarded the Copley Medal in 1959. The following year he was awarded to Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Peter Brian Medawar for their combined discovery of acquired immunological tolerance.

Herald Rea Cox (1907-1986) was born in Terre Haute, Indiana and obtained his doctorate from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  (Herald R. Cox, ScD, 2017) He joined the U.S. Public Health Service in 1930 and began studying Mountain Spotted Fever or “Nine Mile Virus’ isolating the Coxiella burnetii in 1938, which allowed his development of vaccines to combat Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (Q Fever) as well as for several strains of typhus.  In 1942 he moved to New York and became the chairman of the Virus and Rickettsia Research Department where he a worked in conjunction with several other researchers to develop the Polio vaccination (H.R. Cox, 2018)


Britannica, E. o. (n.d.). Sir Macfarlane Burnet Australian Physician. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 20 January, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Macfarlane-Burnet

H.R. Cox. (2018). Revolvy. Retrieved from https://www.revolvy.com/page/H.-R.-Cox

Herald R. Cox, ScD. (2017). Johns Hopkins Heroes of Public Health. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://www.jhsph.edu/about/history/heroes-of-public-health/herald-cox.html

Minnick, M., & Raghaven, R. (2014, July 21). Genetics of Coxiella burnetii: on the path of specialzation. Future Microbiology, 6(11), 1297-1314. doi:10.2217/fmb.11.116


Samantha Smith

A3: Epithet Epitaphs

Assignment 3:Due Jan. 28, 2019 (10 pts)

Research and write a short biography (100-250 words) of someone for whom a microbiological species is named, along with an explanation of the Latin binomial name.


From  Biology-Online.org:

In taxonomy, a species is assigned a particular name called binomial (or scientific) name. The binomial name of a species is based on the binomial nomenclature system. It has to have two parts, i.e. the genus name and the specific epithet. For example, in  Escherichia coli  (the binomial name of a certain bacterial species), the genus name is  Escherichia  and the specific epithet is the  coli.

The  genus  name and the specific epithet are often based on the species’ distinctive features or descriptions derived from Latin and Greek languages. The specific epithet begins in small letter whereas the genus name starts in a capital letter. Both the genus name and the specific epithet are in italicized form. The genus name may be abbreviated but not the specific epithet. For instance, the scientific name for cat,  Felis domesticus, can be abbreviated into  F. domesticus.


Make sure to add your post to the “A3: Epithet Epitaphs‘ category for full credit!

Please also post the link to your post on the sign-up sheet after you’ve completed it. This makes it even easier for me to find and grade it.


Example (written by Dr. Eric Collins, 2018 BIOL 342 instructor):

Escherichia coli  is named after its discoverer, Theodor Escherich, an Austrian professor in the late 1800’s;  coli,  of or relating to bacteria normally inhabiting the intestine or colon. Escherich studied medicine at the University of Würzburg in Germany and then worked at a hospital there. He received his doctorate in 1882 studying cholera in children. There he became very interested in the welfare of children, as his physician father was before him, and particularly the high mortality rates associated with intestinal diseases in children. He discovered the bacterium we now know as  E. coli  in 1885.  At the time, it was not widely known or accepted that microorganisms were responsible for diarrhea. Even today, diarrhea kills almost a million people per year and is “the second leading cause of death among children under the age of 5’. In his time, Escherich was not primarily known as a microbiologist, but was known as an excellent physician. Nevertheless he studied bacterial agents in breast milk, bladder infections, and fecal matter, and their involvement in such diseases as tetanus, diptheria, and tuberculosis. He later moved to Vienna and become famous, eventually starting the “Imperial Institute of Maternal and Child Care’ to fight against high infant mortality rates. Escherich died unexpectedly at age 54, speaking strangely in French as a result of a  cerebral hemorrhage.


“Theodor Escherich.’  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.  11 Jan. 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodor_Escherich

Friedmann H. 2014. Escherich and  Escherichia, EcoSal Plus 2014; doi:10.1128/ecosalplus.ESP-0025-2013

“Global Diarrhea Burden’.  Centers for Disease Control. 11 Jan. 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/diarrhea-burden.html

A2: Microbes in the News Assignment

Microbes in the News !

Over the course of the semester, post 3 different stories involving microbes  from the popular media and then read and comment on 3  posts by other students.


Points: Total possible = 30 points. Earn up to 8 pts for making a post and 2 points for posting a comment. Create 3 posts and 3 comments over the course of the semester.

Deadlines: Posts can be made as soon as you’d like, but for full credit you must post them by these deadlines:

Post 1: Feb. 8

Post 2: April 1

Post 3: April 15

All comments: April 15


Learning Objectives:

– Increase your awareness of microbiology and its role in society

– Expand and apply your knowledge of microbiology

– Practice critical thinking by analyzing popular news media for scientific accuracy

– Develop questions about microbiology

– Help your peers and yourself understand microbiology by answering their questions



Over the course of the semester, create 3 separate Microbes in the News posts on the course website, and then read and comment on 3 Microbes in the News posts by other students. Be sure to follow the guidelines below in order to qualify for  full credit.


Guidelines for creating a post:

Article and link: Enter the title, source, and date of the article and create a link to it. Articles should be from any popular media source (newspaper, magazine, podcast, blog,  etc.) that others can access without hitting a paywall. Any relevant story is acceptable, but challenge yourself to find stories that are current (~within the last 3 months) and that haven’t yet been posted by your peers, whenever possible.

Summary: Write a short summary of the story (just a few sentences is sufficient).

Connections: Explain briefly how this connects to what we’ve covered in class.

Critical analysis: Explain what you found interesting about this story, and what (if anything) you learned. Comment on whether you think the story was scientifically accurate or not. If you noticed any factual inaccuracies or aspects of the story that might inadvertently confuse or misinform readers, identify those and provide a more accurate explanation. Also comment on how this was written. Do you think it did a good job of communicating science to the public? Why or why not?

Question: Write a question about microbiology that you had as a result of reading this story.

Categorize: Categorize your post as “A2: Microbes in the News’ using the categories menu on the right. This will ensure I can find it and give you credit.

Tag: Tag your post based on any relevant microbiological themes by choosing from the tag menu (below categories on the right). Use existing tags when possible, but you can add new ones if needed by clicking “+Add New Category’ link just below the list of tags. This will help us find stories on relevant themes. You can also use these tags to search for other students’ stories on themes that interest you.

Guidelines for commenting on a post:

– Read the news story and the students’ post about it

– Create a comment and write a response to their critical analysis. Do you agree, disagree, or have more to add?

– In your comment, answer their question to the best of your ability. This might require some independent research.

Assignment 1: Introduce yourself

Assignment 1: Create a website post introducing yourself

Due Jan. 23 (10 pts)

The goals of this assignment are to:

  • Learn how to post on the course website
  • Introduce yourself to me and your classmates

It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you categorize your post as   “A1: Intro posts”. That will enable me and your classmates to easily find all of these posts.

What to include in your post

  • your name
  • say something  (could be something about you such as your year in school, major, interests, or an observation about microbiology – or anything else fit to print)
  • a picture – this can be either of you or  something related to microbiology

*Note that this website is public so please don’t share anything that you wouldn’t want to be publicly available.

Need help learning how to post and assigning categories to you post? Watch this tutorial video.

Still can’t get it to work? Email me at mbleigh@alaska.edu and I’ll attempt to help.