A2: Microbes in the News Number 3

“Scientists discover how ‘superbug’ E. coli clones take over human gut’


by: University of Birmingham (no author listed)

April 23rd

Link: https://phys.org/news/2019-04-scientists-superbug-coli-clones-human.html


Research was done on a strain of E.Coli that is resistant to many drugs, and why it has become a source of infections related to the bacteria. The amount of E.Coli cases has risen 27% between 2012-2013 and 2017-2018. The researchers said that the reason it has not become completely dominant is because if there is only one strain of E.Coli and something happened to that strain then E.Coli would disappear. They said Negative frequency dependency selection keeps balance in E.Coli populations so this does not occur. It also mentioned that this strain of bacteria had a lot more variability genetically in genes that help colonize the gut than other strains.


This connects to what we learned in class because it talks about drug resistance in bacterial species.

Critical Analysis:

I think that it is interesting that the amount of E.Coli cases has risen as much as it has. I think this article is credible as it cites from the authors of the paper it talks about. I think this article did an okay job at explaining to the public, there were a couple of terms they could have described further to make it make more sense such as negative frequency dependency selection.


How is it possible that one specific strain could become so much more dominant than other strains of E.Coli?

The Unsuspecting Culprit

Title and Link:
Extraction, Isolation, Identification, and Testing of a Bacterial Specimen from the Wood Center Door Handle

God only knows where a person’s hands have been before they touch a fomite. I was curious to see just what kinds of creatures dwell on something so simple yet seemingly innocuous that we pay little mind to like a door handle. What I found was shocking since it was the last thing that I would have expected, yet unsurprising because it turned out to have the potential to make people sick.
So wash your hands, everybody.

Kocuria Rhizophila: Isolation and Identification of Bacteria from a Multiple- use Water Bottle (Elora S. Swan)






I wrote my paper on my isolate Kocuria Rhizophila. A Staphylococcus bacterium usually found on the skin, Kocuria is an up and coming pathogen that is gaining more and more attention among doctors and biologists.


Microbes in the News! (3) Super Bugs in Hospitals


Recently, “Super bugs’ have been located on the hands of hospital patients. According to an article on Science News, Fourteen percent of 399 hospital patients tested in the study had “superbug” antibiotic-resistant bacteria on their hands or nostrils very early in their hospital stay, the research finds. And nearly a third of tests for such bacteria on objects that patients commonly touch in their rooms, such as the nurse call button, came back positive. This is a huge issue, especially with the antibiotic resistance issues we face nowadays. MRSA is a huge contributor to Hospital infections, this microbe is commonly found in the skin. Due to the high number and turn over of patients in hospitals, many microbes and viruses are exchanged daily.



We have recently been looking into the connections between antibiotic resistance and the use of antibiotics. In cases such as super bugs being found, as we get closer and closer to the post- antibiotic world, these super bugs are going to cause issues that we may potentially not be able to eliminate. With increase in antibiotic resistance, there will be no way to fight these pathogens and bacteria.

Critical Analysis:

I work in a medical clinic, and so I hear about things like this everyday. Many people are unaware that this is happening, and when you try to explain it to them, they don’t believe you. So this article seems pretty accurate to me. It’s scary to know that there are these superbugs out there that we are not able to do anything about.


What can we do about this? Should we have harsher regulations on antibiotic perscriptions?





A2: Microbes in the News(#3)

Ebola Toll Tops 700 in DR Congo

Image result for Ebola in DR Congo

Since last August, the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history (the first being the the epidemic of 2014 that resulted in the deaths of over 10,000 people in Africa and Europe) has pervaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On April 6, the Congolese government confirmed that the deaths due to the most recent outbreak has surpassed 700. Furthermore, 100 of those deaths occurred within the first week of April.

In an attempt to control the spread of the disease, government officials have began vaccinating their citizens on the grand scale. With over 95,000 receiving the newly-developed vaccines by Merck to prevent the spread of the disease, a bright hope looms over the people of Congo.

All is not well for the government of Congo on the contrary; armed insurgency from Guerilla groups as well as rural communities’ resistance to receive medical treatment and vaccines have posed a serious risk to the exacerbated spread of the disease. In fact, because of public distrust for the government, more than a quarter of the people living within the cities of Beni and Butembo believe that Ebola doesn’t even exist!

In class, we learned a lot about pathogenicity, virulence, and even immunity.

Ebola is a pathogen with a high level of virulence. With such a high death rate from previous outbreak data, there is a high priority for such a population like that within the DR Congo to become vaccinated.
Furthermore, the concepts discussed in this article regarding mass vaccinations contributes to the idea of heard immunity. Since the government is stepping in to provide its people with the first ever effective vaccines for the disease, it is in the best interest to vaccinate as many people as possible against the virus for the sake of providing herd immunity and benefiting those who haven’t received the vaccine.

Critical Analysis
While Ebola may be contained within the northern region of DR Congo, it’s only a matter of time before it spreads elsewhere. Even more so, an effective vaccine has been developed for the virus and people within a country affected by multiple outbreaks of the disease are not even interested in what could be a solution to their future Ebola problems.

Although most resentment towards vaccination is stemmed towards distrust of the government of Congo, people should also be informed of the effects of herd immunity and how it could not only protect the people and their loved ones against the spread of diseases not limited to Ebola but potentially other harmful pathogens as well.

Now that there is an effective vaccine against Ebola, should the government of Congo mandate that its people receive it?

Article can be found here.

A2: Microbes in the News – Post 2

Title: “A Teenager Was Diagnosed With Schizophrenia – but it Turned Out to Be an Infection From HIs Cat”

By” Christina Oehlea

Healthy Living Newsletter

Link: https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/cat-scratch-schizophrenia


A young Midwestern boy spent two years in and out of the hospital due to a bacterial infection.  The boy was first misdiagnosed with schizophrenia by two physicians, but later correctly diagnosed and treated for neurobartonellosis, which caused him to have psychiatric symptoms such as depression and suicidal thoughts, among other symptoms. After an antibiotic treatment, the boy made a full recovery.


The content of this article relate to our study of the human immune system and antibiotics.

Critical Analysis:

I think that the article was easy and short, which is good for accessibility, however, I think that it should have provided more information about the bacteria strain, which carry Bartonella clarridgeiae.  But overall, I think that it covered the bases for to provide readers with preventive and informative facts. I also think that the article was from a reliable source, because the author cited that the original case was published in The Journal of Central Nervous System Disease, which is a peer-revised journal publication.


How did cats become a vector for Bartonella clarridgeiae and do they infect other hosts?

A2: Microbes in the News: We’re Not Using One of Our Best Weapons against Drug-Resistant Microbes

Title: We’re Not Using One of Our Best Weapons against Drug-Resistant Microbes,  

Source: Scientific American

Date: 2/8/2019

Link: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/were-not-using-one-of-our-best-weapons-against-drug-resistant-microbes/

Summary: There have been many deaths with drug-resistant bacteria from Antimicrobial resistance or AMR for short. New vaccines can benefit AMR since they help with mortality, morbidity and epidemics.

Connections: We have learned about antibiotic resistance   for bacteria and the role it has played in history with various diseases.   Vaccinating against diseases appears to be a much better solution than prescribing antibiotics which can kill off good forms of bacteria essential for a healthy microbiome. The post also connects with what we have learned about the wide range of microbial life and its affects when using antibiotics to treat bacterial diseases such as salmonella, gonorrhoea and shigella.

Critical Analysis: I found this blog post very interesting because it dives into some of the long term affects of using antibiotics too much in our society. It talks largely about the benefits of preemptive vaccination as a method to reduce AMR and control diseases. It is lacking in information about the effects of AMR and antibiotics sadly; and mostly talks about vaccines as a better alternative.

Question: Does AMR affect various age groups differently? What are the affects of AMR in animals?


A2: Microbes in the News

Germs in Your Gut Are Talking to Your Brain. Scientists Want to Know What They’re Saying.

Jan. 29th, 2019 By Carl Zimmer

LINK: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/health/microbiome-brain-behavior-dementia.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FBacteria&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

Summary: Over the last few years several studies have linked particular microbes in mice intestine to traits in brain health and behavior. Some of these correlations have also been observed in humans. Alzheimer’s in mice have been found to be linked to the amount of bacteria living in the mouse gut. By putting mice on antibiotics an observable decrease of protein formation in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s was seen and transplanting the bacteria back into the mice caused the protein build up to resume. The article also talks bout other neuro problems that could be caused by certain bacteria or a lack there of. Introducing microorganisms from a depressed human into a normal mouse caused it to give up sooner in a particular experiment.

Connection: Microorganisms can release particular compounds as a result of metabolism dependent on their species and the boime they are in. Some of the compounds produced by microorganisms can be toxic, so it could be possible for some of the microorganism’s byproducts to have other impacts on mammals. There are many examples of mammalian microbes being dependent on particular microorganisms.

Critical Analysis: The articles comes off as very credible and offers sources throughout. it does not seem unreasonable for the mammalian microbiome to have an impact on the brain. By extension the particular microbes living within a mammal could also have an impact on brain chemistry through the gut’s microbiome and its interplay with other systems.k

Question: What would be some creative ways to pinpoint which specific microbe is responsible for producing an affect on a mammalian brain?


A1: Intro Post – John Pierce

Hey Everyone,

My name is John and I am a Junior standing biology student, hoping to pursue Physical Therapy after undergrad. I live in Fairbanks year round, but I have lived and traveled a lot of places! I took last semester off to travel South America and it was a great experience, but now I am ready for the reality of school again and am hoping for a good semester in micro!


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.