Spores of fungus, Candida albicans

The long strands are the tubular filaments (hyphae) that have developed from the fungal spores. Yeast cells (rounded, yellow) are budding from the ends of the hyphae (red). Candida albicans causes the infection known as candidiasis which affects the moist mucous membranes of the body, such as skin folds, mouth, respiratory tract and vagina. Oral and vaginal conditions are known as thrush.

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Microbes are always hitting the headlines. Keep up to date with the latest microbiology news. Most stories are linked to the full article.

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  • Beware of the protozoa

    6th July, 2017

    New research has shown that the pervasiveness of protozoan parasites may pose public health issues, according to scientists at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. The research group analysed drinking water from water treatment plants in the Aragon region and detected the presence of protozoa from the genera Cryptosporidium and Giardia in their dispersal stages, although in low concentrations. These two microbes can cause diarrhoeal problems if ingested, so it is important for treatment plants to monitor their concentration levels in already-treated water.

  • In urban areas, most Indonesian children have been infected by dengue

    23rd June, 2017

    A recent report by scientists at the University of Indonesia shows that dengue virus has infected more than 60% of children in urban areas of Indonesia. The report further shows that more than 80% of Indonesian children aged 10 or over will have been infected at least once. Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that is on the rise worldwide, and knowing who is being infected is important for planning how to curb it.

  • Lingering resistant bacteria

    23rd June, 2017

    A new study by researchers at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, has revealed that Pseudomonas aeruginosa – the multidrug-resistant bacterium associated with hospital-acquired infections – can travel as far as 4 metres and remain infectious for 45 minutes after being expelled. By testing the dried droplets ejected through coughing, the team were able to show that some of the bacteria were able to survive for longer than expected. They suggest that it may be because droplets are produced in different parts of the respiratory tract, and therefore carry different amounts of bacteria. These findings could have implications for infection control in the hospital environment, especially around patients with respiratory problems.

  • Emerging snake fungal disease in Europe

    23rd June, 2017

    Snake fungal disease, caused by Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, is an emerging disease that has affected over 30 different species of wild snakes in North America. However, a new study led by scientists at Zoological Society of London (ZSL), UK, demonstrates that the fungus has made its way to Europe. After screening wild snakes’ moulted skins in the UK and Czech Republic, the team were able to identify the presence of O. ophiodiicola, although DNA sequencing suggested that they are novel strains to the US-based fungus. The researchers note that further investigation is needed to understand the impact of the pathogen in European snakes.

  • Deep sea creatures and their oil-loving bacteria friends

    23rd June, 2017

    Recent research led by a team at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany, shows that a species of oil-consuming bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with the sponges and mussels that live around ‘asphalt volcanoes’ in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, where nutrients are scarce. While the molluscs and sponges can’t themselves survive on the asphalt and oil that spew out of these volcanoes, these bacteria – from the genus Cycloclasticus – can. The symbiotic bacteria break down energy sources for their mussel and sponge hosts, who in turn provide their guests with a continuous supply through their water filtration systems so that they don’t have to compete with other microbes.

  • Using bacteria to battle TB

    16th June, 2017

    As drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) continues to persist around the world, researchers have been trying to find a way to curb its spread. Now, a research team from a number of institutions across the UK may have found an answer in bacteria found in a cystic fibrosis patient. Bacteria from the Burkholderia genus have adapted to their wide-ranging environments by producing antibiotics to fight off their competition. With this knowledge in hand, the research group discovered that a strain of Burkholderia gladioli bacteria, found in the mucus of a child with cystic fibrosis, produces an antibiotic called gladiolin. In initial tests, gladiolin was able to inhibit the growth of four different drug-resistant strains of TB, and so could potentially be a viable candidate for a new drug.

  • A little bit of fungi help

    16th June, 2017

    A new study by scientists at the Helmhotz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany, has demonstrated how fungi can keep the soil ecosystem going in drought conditions – including giving the bacteria there a burst of life. Many fungi spread thin, filamentous branches – known as hyphae – through soil to search for nutrients and water, and then bring these back to nutrient-poor and drier areas of the fungal network. The new research was able to show that this injection of life also wakes up slumbering bacteria, which go into a dormant state until there is sufficient food and water again to thrive. These results suggest that as fungi play a much bigger role in the soil ecosystem than previously thought, it is important to have a better understanding of these micro-organisms and how they interact with other microbes.

  • Meerkats and their microbial scent signatures

    16th June, 2017

    Meerkats smell, but it’s not their fault – it’s odour-producing microbes, according to new research by scientists at Duke University, USA. Like many other animals, meerkats mark their territory by smell – these creatures secrete a kind of paste in their scent pouches that can afterwards help other meerkats identify who was where. Looking into where animals’ distinct scents come from, the research team decided to take swabs of these secretions from a wild group living in the South African Kalahari. Analysis of the samples showed that there are over 1,000 types of bacteria living in meerkat paste, and individuals with similar microbial groups also smelled similar. These findings suggest that their scent isn’t due to shared genetics, but rather shared bacterial communities.

  • Faecal transplants stick around

    16th June, 2017

    Recent research by a team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), USA, can demonstrate that donor microbes continued to thrive for months, sometimes years, after a faecal transplant. These transplants are usually performed to replenish a patient’s bacterial gut flora after they’ve been suffering from chronic Clostridium difficile infections, though there had never been any definitive studies on how it works. The scientists at UAB have now been able to show that it’s no longer just a hypothesis, by tracking donor microbe strains through seven recipients. For all of them, the donor microbes could still be found in their guts six months after the procedure, and for the two patients who were sampled again after two years, the transplanted strains were still noticeable.

  • Microbial involvement in cats’ skin allergies?

    8th June, 2017

    While investigating the cat skin microbiome, researchers at Texas A&M University, USA, recently found that there are more species of bacteria living on the skin of cats than previously thought. Comparing skin swabs from healthy cats and those with allergies, the scientists noticed that the allergic animals had skin microbiomes more unique to each individual, and were more likely to harbour higher numbers of Staphylococcus bacteria. The findings suggest that there could be a link between skin disease and imbalances in the microbial communities living on the skin.

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