An exploration into a pharmacist’s microbes


An exploration into a pharmacist’s microbes



As an area of intrest, I isolated a bacteria from the contents of my father’s pocket, a practicing pharmacist as from the options available around me it presented itself as the most microbially interesting area available, both from having possible unusual outliers and from being socially relevant. This paper details my efforts in this endeavour and what I found (Spoiler: as can be seen in the picture for this post, I found a nice example of Staphylococcus epidermidis).


Google Drive Link:


Ω by: David Warner


A visual representation of horizontal gene transfer by conjugation is shown. We can observe the plasmid bearing bacteria (green) extend it’s pilus, attach to the plasmid lacking bacteria (orange) and pull the cell in to perform the conjugation plasmid transfer. The title, “Ω” is the greek letter omega, which has a two-fold meaning. Firstly, omega is the symbol for the “ohm”, which is a measure of electrical resistance. Horizontal gene transfer is a major contributor to the spread of antibiotic resistance genes through a population and even community. Omega is also the last letter in the greek alphabet, and is often a symbol of “the end”. Antibiotic resistance is a very real problem, and failure to deal with this problem has already caused infections that we cannot treat. This could mean that further proliferation of antibiotic resistance could lead to the end of human’s reign as ruler of the planet.


A2: Microbes in the News

Title: Microbes that live in fishes slimy mucus coating could lead chemists to antibiotic drugs

Source: The Conversation Academic Rigor, journalistic flair

Date: March 31st 2019

Finding new sources of antibiotics has become critically important in recent years in order to combat drug resistant infections. One potential source is fish mucus that covers their bodies in pill form since it is a natural anti-infective. Over 33,000 species of fish have the microbial containing the slime that can protect them from diseases and bacteria and potentially used to help humans with this as well.

In class we have discussed antibiotic sources and working around antibiotic resistance. We have looked at how different natural microbes can help with fighting off diseases and not have a resistance already built up.

I found the article to be well written and very scientifically relevant. They referenced their research at Oregon State University and the ways they have classified the different bacteria they have found taxonomic groups. They found 47 different bacterial strains gathered for the swabs they did on the fish mucus. They carried out a process similar to what we have done in lab to isolate and test them.

What do you think about using natural anti-infectives from animals to combat human pathogens?

A2: Microbes In The News-Antibiotic resistance and ROS treatment

Title: “Anti-evolvability drugs could slow antibiotic resistance in bacteria.”  

Depiction of E. coli response to low doses of antibiotics causing sub-populations with different responses to emerge. Credit: John P Pribis

Publisher: Cell Press

Link: <>.

Published: April 1st, 2019

Summary: Growing antibiotic resistance is a threat. Traditionally the focus is to develop new antibiotics. This article focuses on identifying a mechanism by which drug resistance forms and identify a drug that prevents the mechanism from developing antibiotic resistance. In this case researchers observed that low doses of ciprofloxacin (“DNA breaking” antibiotic) administered to E. coli caused a stress response in a fraction of the isolate population which resulted in high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Which in turn, induced error prone DNA repair. This particular stress response strategy relies on a sort of mutation gambling that results in the rapid evolution of new antibiotic resistance without risking the entire microbial population. ROS-reducing drugs exist and are approved by the FDA for other uses. Researchers exposed E. coli to low dose ciprofloxacin and ROS-reducing drug edaravone in tandem and successfully prevented the formation of new antibiotic resistance in their tested E. coli populations.

Connection: Class covered how antibiotics treat bacterial infection. Bacteria develop antibiotic resistance for a variety of reasons as discussed in lecture. Antibiotic resistance prevention we discussed fuocused mainly at prevention of resistance development. Mechanisms by which resistance forms were also discussed but this idea to inhibit resistance mechanism during antibiotic treatment is quite clever.

Critical analysis: ScienceDaily is a reputable and credible news source. This story directly cites the original journal article and states its content is edited for “style and length”. This sort of reporting is perfect for casual scientific reading. It makes reading easy unlike reading the original journal article while staying completely factual and referenced. The perfect middle ground between deciphering a scientific journal article and reading a very watered down interpretation of the article in a non specialty news publication.

Question: What other mechanisms do bacteria use to develop antibiotic resistance? How could the mechanism you thought of be disrupted?



A2: Microbes in the News

The region in Svalbard where the bacterial strain was found. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! News and Reuters

Superbug found in one of most ‘pristine’ places on Earth

By Anne Gulland of the Telegraph.

January 28, 2019

What could be worse than contracting a bacterial infection? Contracting one that has no known treatment protocol or cure. That is the ongoing issue for patients in India who have succumbed to the “superbug” that was recently found in soil samples extracted from Svalbard in the Arctic circle.

A “superbug” is an term used to categorize bacteria that have strong resistance to antibiotics and for those reasons, they are extremely dangerous to those infected. Despite the island of Svalbard being extremely isolated and inhabited by humans, the discovery of such bacteria in a remote place have shown the great potential that antibiotic resistant strains have to migrate from place to place.

As the world enters into a post-Antibiotic era, the bacteria take advantage of not being combated by spreading wherever they can. This particular strain of Bacteria, containing within it a gene known as blaNDM-1 gene is believed to have been carried by birds to Svalbard and then diapered by the island through guano.

In class, we’ve touched up on how bacteria have such short generation time; henceforth, they are prone to more genetic mutations in reproduction and thus more prone to experience evolution much faster than animals. Because of this, nature will select the bacteria whose mutations benefit them to survive the onslaught of antibiotic therapies. Going back to learning about penicillin from Monday,   January 28, 2019, the fungal spores can interrupt the bacteria’s ability to reproduce, there might come a time when it is no longer effective against pathogenic strains like the one mentioned in this article.

What I find interesting about this article is the mechanism by which this bacterial strain managed to end up on one of the most remote places on Earth. According to the Article, the strain is carried by birds   It really makes you think, from an epidemiological aspect, just how vulnerable we really are to being exposed to a foreign disease like the one mentioned in this article that could be brought to us by similar mechanisms of migrating birds. Even more so, as antibiotic resistance continues to persist, the rest of the world doesn’t seem to care; the first thing that came up on this news website’s homepage was about the government shutdown. Even more so, when I clicked the science tab to look for science articles, one of the first articles that popped up was about how Donald Trump doesn’t believe in global warming. I’m surprised that people are more interested in things like politics that don’t really affect them as opposed to serious issues like antibiotic resistance which could directly affect journalists if they ever get infected.

So what do you think? Are superbugs, with this most recent trend, to be the end of us or are the chances of us coming into contact with them pretty slim and more of a matter of avian migration patterns?


– Alexander Gloger