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Trends in Microbiology

David Berry, Alexander Loy
Humans and animals host diverse communities of microorganisms important to their physiology and health. Despite extensive sequencing-based characterization of host-associated microbiomes, there remains a dramatic lack of understanding of microbial functions. Stable-isotope probing (SIP) is a powerful strategy to elucidate the ecophysiology of microorganisms in complex host-associated microbiotas. Here, we suggest that SIP methodologies should be more frequently exploited as part of a holistic functional microbiomics approach...
July 9, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Jennifer R Tanner, Robert A Kingsley
Within-host evolution has resulted in thousands of variants of Salmonella that exhibit remarkable diversity in host range and disease outcome, from broad host range to exquisite host restriction, causing gastroenteritis to disseminated disease such as typhoid fever. Within-host evolution is a continuing process driven by genomic variation that occurs during each infection, potentiating adaptation to a new niche resulting from changes in animal husbandry, the use of antimicrobials, and emergence of immune compromised populations...
June 25, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Tiffany M Lowe-Power, Devanshi Khokhani, Caitilyn Allen
The plant wilt pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum thrives in the water-transporting xylem vessels of its host plants. Xylem is a relatively nutrient-poor, high-flow environment but R. solanacearum succeeds there by tuning its own metabolism and altering xylem sap biochemistry. Flow influences many traits that the bacterium requires for pathogenesis. Most notably, a quorum sensing system mediates the pathogen's major transition from a rapidly dividing early phase that voraciously consumes diverse food sources and avidly adheres to plant surfaces to a slower-growing late phase that can use fewer nutrients but produces virulence factors and disperses effectively...
June 22, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Felipe Hernandes Coutinho, Gustavo Bueno Gregoracci, Juline Marta Walter, Cristiane Carneiro Thompson, Fabiano L Thompson
Advances brought about by omics-based approaches have revolutionized our understanding of the diversity and ecological processes involving marine archaea, bacteria, and their viruses. This broad review discusses recent examples of how genomics, metagenomics, and ecogenomics have been applied to reveal the ecology of these biological entities. Three major topics are covered in this revision: (i) the novel roles of microorganisms in ecosystem processes; (ii) virus-host associations; and (iii) ecological associations of microeukaryotes and other microbes...
June 21, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Florian Douam, Alexander Ploss
Yellow fever (YF) was one of the most dangerous infectious diseases of the 18th and 19th centuries, resulting in mass casualties in Africa and the Americas. The etiologic agent is yellow fever virus (YFV), and its live-attenuated form, YFV-17D, remains one of the most potent vaccines ever developed. During the first half of the 20th century, vaccination combined with mosquito control eradicated YFV transmission in urban areas. However, the recent 2016-2018 outbreaks in areas with historically low or no YFV activity have raised serious concerns for an estimated 400-500 million unvaccinated people who now live in at-risk areas...
June 19, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Neil A R Gow, Tehmina Amin, Karen McArdle, Alistair J P Brown, Gordon D Brown, Adilia Warris, The Wtsa-Mmfi Consortium
The Wellcome Trust Strategic Award in Medical Mycology and Fungal Immunology is a unique investment that aimed to bolster capacity, training and research activity throughout the UK. This article summarises the rationale for collective collaboration of multiple institutions to achieve synergies and address a common medical problem.
June 13, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Eric C Keen, Gautam Dantas
Recent years have witnessed an explosion of interest in the human microbiota. Although commensal bacteria have dominated research efforts to date, mounting evidence suggests that endogenous viral populations (the 'virome') play key roles in basic human physiology. The most numerous constituents of the human virome are not eukaryotic viruses but rather bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria. Here, we review phages' interactions with their immediate (prokaryotic) and extended (eukaryotic) hosts and with each other, with a particular emphasis on the temperate phages and prophages which dominate the human virome...
June 13, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Edward C Hutchinson
This infographic briefly summarises the natural history, replication cycle, and pathogenesis of influenza viruses, the cause of seasonal influenza and of influenza pandemics. Influenza viruses infect many vertebrates, with Influenza A, B and C viruses (IAV, IBV, and ICV) infecting humans. High mutation rates allow the evasion of immunity. IAV from different host species can 'reassort' their segmented genomes, producing pandemic strains that are antigenically novel but otherwise well adapted to humans. The 'Great Influenza' pandemic of 1918 remains the worst outbreak of infectious disease in history...
June 13, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Kristina M Adams Waldorf, Erin M Olson, Branden R Nelson, Marie-Térèse E Little, Lakshmi Rajagopal
Pregnancy infections with Zika virus are associated with a spectrum of fetal brain injuries beyond microcephaly. Nonmicrocephalic children exposed to Zika virus in utero or early life should undergo neurodevelopmental testing to identify deficits and allow for early intervention. Additionally, long-term monitoring for higher order neurocognitive deficits should be implemented.
June 11, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Steven J Norris
The spirochetes that cause Lyme disease have an elaborate antigenic variation system that produces millions of variants, thus evading the immune response. Verhey et al. have applied next-generation sequencing and computational analysis to gain new insights into how these bacteria keep 'one step ahead' of elimination by the host.
June 11, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Valéria Szijártó, Eszter Nagy, Gábor Nagy
Monoclonal antibodies are considered promising therapeutic alternatives to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Upon binding to their targets, they either act alone (e.g., by neutralizing bacterial toxins) or in concert with the host's immune system (with complement or phagocytes). Storek et al. have described a unique, directly bactericidal antibody against Escherichia coli.
June 11, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Shannan L Rossi, Gregory D Ebel, Chao Shan, Pei-Yong Shi, Nikos Vasilakis
Zika virus (ZIKV) has challenged the assumed knowledge regarding the pathobiology of flaviviruses. Despite causing sporadic and mild disease in the 50 years since its discovery, Zika virus has now caused multiple outbreaks in dozens of countries worldwide. Moreover, the disease severity in recent outbreaks, with neurological disease in adult and devastating congenital malformations in fetuses, was not previously seen. One hypothesis is that the virus has acquired mutations that have increased its virulence...
June 11, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Timothy M Ghaly, Michael R Gillings
Mobile DNAs drive the spread of virulence and antibiotic-resistance determinants across diverse bacterial lineages. However, they have been largely overlooked as therapeutic targets, limiting our ability to prevent the spread of their clinically relevant cargo genes. Mobile DNAs adopt various behavioural, evolutionary, and ecological strategies to enhance their diversification, transmission, and replicative fitness. They can do this even at the expense of their host bacterium. Here, we explore evidence that mobile DNAs are inherently selfish, and resemble endoparasites...
June 6, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Joan A Geoghegan, Yves F Dufrêne
During colonization of biomaterials and host tissues, surface-attached bacteria are subjected to mechanical stresses, including hydrodynamic flow and cell-surface contacts. Two publications show that mechanical force activates the adhesive function of Staphylococcus aureus surface proteins, thereby providing the pathogen with a means to withstand high shear stress during colonization.
June 1, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Glenn Randall
Dengue virus (DENV) induces a proviral selective autophagy targeting lipid droplets, termed lipophagy, that stimulates lipid metabolism. Zhang et al. gained mechanistic insight into this process, demonstrating that DENV NS4A/B binds unmodified AUP1 and promotes its translocation from lipid droplets to autophagosomes to drive the induction of lipophagy.
May 29, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Michael N Starnbach
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common infectious disease in the USA for which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collects case reports. Its prevalence in young women is a public health crisis given the threat to their reproductive health. Consequently, development of a vaccine to prevent infection should be prioritized.
May 29, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Leigh K Harris, Julie A Theriot
An immediately observable feature of bacteria is that cell size and shape are remarkably constant and characteristic for a given species in a particular condition, but vary quantitatively with physiological parameters such as growth rate, indicating both genetic and environmental regulation. However, despite decades of research, the molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial morphogenesis have remained incompletely characterized. We recently demonstrated that a wide range of bacterial species exhibit a robust surface area to volume ratio (SA/V) homeostasis...
May 26, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Tania Pérez-Sánchez, Brenda Mora-Sánchez, José Luis Balcázar
Although aquaculture activity has experienced a great development over the past three decades, infectious diseases have become a limiting factor for further intensification. Because the use of antibiotics has led to the widespread emergence of antibiotic resistance, the search for alternative environmentally friendly approaches is urgently needed. This Opinion paper offers an update on the successes and challenges of biological approaches for bacterial disease prevention and control in aquaculture. Although most of these approaches are still in research and development stages, some of them have shown promising results in field trials...
May 22, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Nicholas Jay Tobias, Yi-Ming Shi, Helge B Bode
Members of the genera Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus are capable of producing a huge repertoire of different natural products to support a complex life cycle involving insect pathogenesis and nematode symbiosis. Many of the natural products have direct functions, specifically targeting different facets of nematode development or the insect immune system. These adaptations have allowed the bacteria to thrive in a unique environment and become highly efficient, versatile insect pathogens. Here, we discuss the ecological advantages afforded to the bacteria by the acquisition of the gene clusters responsible for producing this repertoire of chemical compounds...
May 22, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
Lauren O Bakaletz, Laura A Novotny
In this infographic the diseases caused by nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), including otitis media, are discussed. Encapsulated type b Haemophilus influenzae (Hib) was responsible for most of the invasive disease (meningitis) prior to the use of Hib vaccines. As Hib vaccines have no effect on infections due to nontypeable H. influenzae (NTHi), in areas where Hib vaccines are used, nontypeable strains are now the most common cause of invasive disease. Moreover, NTHi contributes to the ∼21000 otitis media (OM)-associated deaths per year...
May 21, 2018: Trends in Microbiology
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