Hong Kong Polytechnic University: PolyU researchers compile world’s first “atlas” of airborne microbes that an important new perspective for public health researchprovides

Hong Kong Polytechnic University: PolyU researchers compile world’s first “atlas” of airborne microbes that provides an important new perspective for public health research. “Bacteria are truly abundant across the Earth’s surface, from the soil to the oceans. The microbial population of the air that surrounds us is comparatively unknown, but a research expedition led by PolyU scientists is about to change that. After nearly a decade of effort, they have compiled a comprehensive map of the world’s airborne microbes, providing fresh insights into how these species interact with the surface environment – as well as their likely future changes.”

EurekAlert: Researchers build a ‘Wikipedia’ for resistant bacteria

EurekAlert: Researchers build a ‘Wikipedia’ for resistant bacteria. “In the future, even a small infection can become life-threatening for people if disease-causing bacteria become resistant to traditional treatment with antibiotics. Based on 214,000 microbiome samples, DTU researchers have created a freely accessible platform that shows where in the world different types of resistant bacteria are found and in what quantities.”

Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University: An AI Message Decoder Based on Bacterial Growth Patterns

Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University: An AI Message Decoder Based on Bacterial Growth Patterns. “Depending on the initial conditions used, such as nutrient levels and space constraints, bacteria tend to grow in specific ways. The researchers created a virtual bacterial colony and then controlled growth conditions and the numbers and sizes of simulated bacterial dots to create an entire alphabet based on how the colonies would look after they fill a virtual Petri dish. They call this encoding scheme emorfi.”

EMBL: Connecting the dots between bacterial genes around the world

EMBL: Connecting the dots between bacterial genes around the world. “This database, created using publicly available data, contains more than 2 billion genes, 303 million of them dubbed unigenes. A unigene is a DNA sequence that scientists use during data analysis to represent a group of multiple almost-identical gene sequences that come from the same microbial species. These unigenes have been identified from 14 different environments, including human and animal bodies, as well as soil and water from different geographical locations. The resource aims to help the scientific community study various aspects of microbial planetary biology, such as similarities and differences between microbiomes found in distant locations or facing different environmental conditions.”

Phys .org: New database of 660,000 assembled bacterial genomes sheds light on the evolution of bacteria

Phys .org: New database of 660,000 assembled bacterial genomes sheds light on the evolution of bacteria. “In a new study, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), researchers standardized all bacterial genome data held in the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) before 2019, creating a searchable and accessible database of genomic assemblies. In the research, published on 9 November 2021 in PLOS Biology, researchers reviewed all of the bacterial data available as of November 2018 and assembled it into over 660,000 genomes.”

CBC: Why an Italian museum unleashed bacteria on Michelangelo’s marble masterpieces

CBC: Why an Italian museum unleashed bacteria on Michelangelo’s marble masterpieces. “When it came time to clean sculptures by Michelangelo at the Medici Chapels in Florence, Italy, conservators knew they needed a new approach. For nearly a decade, teams have been working to clean the marble works in the New Sacristy — searching for solutions that wouldn’t damage the fragile stone Michelangelo worked with to sculpt the room’s elaborate tombs. So rather than applying chemicals or using abrasives, the experts made a ‘bold decision’ to use bacteria-infused gel to clean away centuries worth of dirt and grime.”

Science: Scientists ‘program’ living bacteria to store data

Science: Scientists ‘program’ living bacteria to store data. “Hard disks and optical drives store gigabits of digital data at the press of a button. But those technologies—like the magnetic tapes and floppy drives before them—are apt to become antiquated and unreadable when they are overtaken by new technology. Now, researchers have come up with a way to electronically write data into the DNA of living bacteria, a storage option unlikely to go obsolete any time soon.”

Phys .org: Dozens of potential new antibiotics discovered with free online app

Phys .org: Dozens of potential new antibiotics discovered with free online app. “A new web tool speeds the discovery of drugs to kill Gram-negative bacteria, which are responsible for the overwhelming majority of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths. The tool also offers insights into discrete chemical changes that can convert drugs that kill other bacteria into drugs to fight Gram-negative infections.”

MIT News: A comprehensive catalogue of human digestive tract bacteria

MIT News: A comprehensive catalogue of human digestive tract bacteria. “The human digestive tract is home to thousands of different strains of bacteria. Many of these are beneficial, while others contribute to health problems such as inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute have now isolated and preserved samples of nearly 8,000 of these strains, while also clarifying their genetic and metabolic context.”

MEDIZIN ASPEKTE: Unlimited access to microbiological research data at BacDive

Also new-to-me, from MEDIZIN ASPEKTE: Unlimited access to microbiological research data at BacDive. “The possibilities of using BacDive are continuously being expanded, currently scientists can use more than 600 data fields to search for microbiological information. The repertoire includes initial species descriptions and metabolic profiles as well as data on enzymatic activities and antibiotic resistance. In addition, BacDive offers 9,000 Analytical Profile Tests (API) for over 5,000 bacterial strains, the largest publicly available API data collection worldwide.”

Ars Technica: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting? A whole ecosystem of microbes

Ars Technica: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting? A whole ecosystem of microbes. “If you could zoom in for a microscopic look at an oil painting on canvas, you would see many thin, overlapping layers of pigments—powdered bits of insects, plants, or minerals—held together with oils or glue made from animal collagens. Many of those pigments and binding materials are surprisingly edible to bacteria and fungi. Each patch of color and each layer of paint and varnish in an oil painting offers a different microbial habitat. So when you look at a painting, you’re not just looking at a work of art; you’re looking at a whole ecosystem.”

Phys .org: Chemists find a new tool for understanding enzymes—Google

Phys .org: Chemists find a new tool for understanding enzymes—Google. “Yale scientists have taken a novel approach to unraveling the complex structure and regulation of enzymes: They Googled it. In a new study published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, chemistry professor Victor Batista and his colleagues used the Google algorithm PageRank to identify key amino acids in the regulation of a bacterial enzyme essential for most microorganisms.”

CIDRAP: ARMADA seeks to create ‘criminal database’ of drug-resistant pathogens

CIDRAP: ARMADA seeks to create ‘criminal database’ of drug-resistant pathogens. “Using a big-data approach and a network of hospitals and clinical laboratories around the world, a new non-profit initiative aims to create a comprehensive ‘criminal database’ of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains that can be recognized by their genetic fingerprint.”

Culture Shock: Precious Microbe Collections Languish in Threatened Bio-Libraries (Scientific American)

Scientific American: Culture Shock: Precious Microbe Collections Languish in Threatened Bio-Libraries. “Freeze-dried and locked away in liquid nitrogen–filled vaults around the world are hundreds of thousands of microbial cultures. In the U.S. these living libraries include 91,000 bacterial and fungal strains in Peoria, Ill., as well as 13,000 fungal strains in Ithaca, N.Y., and 7,500 wild yeasts at the University of California, Davis. Researchers have used strains from such publicly accessible culture collections to develop penicillin as well as the CRISPR gene-editing systems and the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) DNA-amplifying technique. But as government priorities apparently change, and as the federal money that historically created and preserved many of these biological resource repositories in the U.S. dries up, their infrastructure is at risk of deteriorating. “