Archived Newsletter August 2013

Welcome to microBEnet News
Summer 2013 


MicroBEnet Blogs

A brief summary of the recent topics posted on

Each issue we give a brief summary of the topics discussed in our blog over the last month (3 months this time!).  Be sure to check it out here.


We started off the month with a couple of posts on Social Media for STEM (here and here).


We posted about several new Sloan Program projects, namely those by Jordan Peccia, Kyle Bibby (see also our People Behind the Science interview with him), Roberto Kolter, and Susan Lynch (followed later by an “Intro to the Lynch Lab” post).


Space was a popular theme this summer including microbes on the ISS, effects of spaceflight on Pseudomonas growth, and a satellite to monitor slime mold growth in space.  Also more Project MERCCURI sampling photos here.


A few posts about funding and training including; open science training, funding from the DoD, and a reminder for the MoBE postdoc.


As always we report on conferences, past and future;

Sloan Symposium at Indoor Air 2014, talks uploaded from the 2013 Sloan Conference, and another summary of ASM2013


Some of our posts were to point out various online an informational resources; the FHiTING software tool for fungal ID, summary of our Undergraduate Genome Sequencing Project, and a post about Pathomap.


We had a number of guest posts over the summer; a three part series by Russell Neches on our troubles with culture plates for the space station (part 1, part 2, part 3).  Part two of a pair of posts by Keith Seifert on following in the footsteps of van Leeuwenhoek (part 1, part 2).  Rachel Adams posted about biomass bias in NGS surveys (and we posted about the paper itself here)


And then there’s the usual list of posts that don’t fit together; yet another article about Jessica Green, NYT article about Norm Pace’s work on water systems, a paper on asthma and fungal spores, a couple papers on uncultured genomes from sink biofilms (here and here), germs on planes, MRSA in a sport facility, bacteria growing on nuclear waste, EPA report on natural and built environments, winery microbiota, yoga mat microbiota, hospital microbiome project, economics of copper for infection control, masking Salmonella infections on foods with chemical treatments, legionella outbreaks, life in the “plastisphere”, a post on microbial mold art, and the microbiome on NPR.


People Behind the Science
People Behind the Science

Excerpts from an interview with Kyle Bibby, from the University of Pittsburgh.





Question: You are a new Sloan grantee. Tell us a bit about your project.


Response: Myself and my co-grantee, Dr. Janet Stout, are investigating the change in microbial ecology within a hospital hot water plumbing system, before and after the hospital introduced an on-site disinfection system. They introduced a monochloramine disinfection system which we know isn’t going to kill everything, it’s just going to change the ecology and we don’t know how yet. We have about forty sites within the hospital that are sampled for two months before and about four months after. We have all these samples stored and we’re just gearing up to sequence them.


Question: So you are looking at disinfection practices in hospitals. Do you have any preliminary data, and how far along are you in the project?


Response: This project is actually being rolled into another concurrent project, which was focused specifically on the Legionella disinfection. So from that project, there is some data that shows that it looks like the disinfection was successful at knocking down total bacterial counts and a little bit of other data. But as far as the ecology portion, which is this study, we just got started.


Question: We have been hearing from a lot of different people that we really don’t know what the ecology of these species are. We know we can find species, but we have no idea how that relates to human health or cleanliness.


Response: We are really just on the tip of the iceberg. I am really interested in investigating the ecology of premise plumbing systems; plumbing systems that are within our homes and buildings, as opposed to the water distribution systems that bring water to us. It is really important and really interesting from a health perspective and an ecology perspective.


Question: Are you collaborating with any other hospital projects like the Hospital Microbiome Project?


Response: Yes. I am a member of the Hospital Microbiome Consortium. I just started a faculty position so was a little bit late, but I am really looking forward to the results and hopeful that I will be a part of that conversation.


Question: What is one major challenge or big research question in the research area related to the built environment?


Response: When we are sampling in the built environment, there are so many variables that are changing in every single environment we sample. So, if we’re sampling a floor, there are all sorts of different dust on the floor and different flooring. Some people have pets, some people don’t. Some people keep the house warmer. If we’re talking about premise plumbing systems, there are different materials, different temperatures, and different water quality coming in to these. How do we generalize these conclusions we have from these specific cases to more broadly be able to apply them with all of these confounding variables and how do we tease out the fundamentals, as opposed to just observational changes in these specific instances?




Latest in Mendeley Collection

To see the complete collection, visit the microBEnet Mendely Group.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.