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MicroBEnet Blogs

A brief summary of the recent topics posted on microBE.net  


Blog posts covered a wide range of topics:

Recent interesting papers:

There were a number of conference reviews:

Microbes in the popular press:



Resource of the Month

Each month we use this space to highlight a particular resource of interest to our readers. This month we are focusing on the Indoor Air Quality Scientific Finding Resource bank.  The informative website can be viewed at www.iaqscience.lbl.gov.

This Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Scientific Findings Resource Bank (IAQ-SFRB) is being developed by the Indoor Environment Group of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with funding support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided through an interagency agreement. The IAQ-SFRB serves as a resource for public health professionals, building professionals, and others who seek scientific information about the effects of IAQ on people's health or work performance. For general introductory-level background information on IAQ, please see An Overview of IAQ.

The IAQ-SFRB provides information summarizing the state of scientific knowledge about the relationships between people's health and productivity and the IAQ conditions or associated building characteristics in which the people work or reside. When possible, these relationships are expressed in quantitative terms using graphics, charts, or equations. The summaries also include brief descriptions of the actions that may be taken to improve the pertinent aspects of IAQ, including those related to building design, construction, operation, maintenance, and occupant activities. This web site also provides links for downloading published journal articles that were developed specifically for the IAQ-SFRB project.


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Featured Articles

Image by Mlaoxve [Public domain],  

via Wikimedia Commons

Art and microbiology meet again but not in the way you might have expected

By Jonathan Eisen

Well, I have always told people that we need more mixing of art and science.  In recent years we have seen lots of attempts to do some sort of art inspired by - or even incorporating - microbes.  But this is perhaps the other side of the coin.  Art is significantly influenced by microbes in various ways and this paper is trying to get at whether the microbial community on art plays a role in its deterioration.  Worth a look. PLOS ONE:

by David Coil

We try to make sure that our discussions of the microbiology of the "built environment" are very inclusive.  That means in addition to the obvious houses and office buildings we've talked about plumbing systems, planes, trains, etc.    But this story is certainly the first time I've thought about what is dwelling inside of musical instruments.   Of course microbes are everywhere but I never thought about the humid environment inside of a brass or wind instrument... that then can get sucked directly into the deep part of the lungs.  And as opposed to the usual scare story (e.g. "your dishwasher is trying to kill you") this talks about a few cases where it sounds like the instrument really was a health problem.


by David Coil

Just a quick post to point out an  article on phys.org talking about Amy Pruden's fascinating work on probiotics for plumbing.   Read her microBEnet post about the work here and a related post by Kyle Bibby here. 


From the phys.org article:

"We believe this microbiome can be harnessed to control opportunistic pathogens," Pruden said.


For example, benign microbes could out-compete the pathogens for nutrients, space, and other needs, such as the aid of amoeba as hosts. Limiting the number of amoeba with an amoebal virus or bacterial virus is also a strategy, said Falkinham.


In addition, some microbes secrete substances that prevent pathogens from attaching to a surface, which prevents harmful biofilm formation. An alternative approach is chemical synthesis and screens of molecule-mimicking natural inhibitors to control biofilm formation.


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