Biofilm-forming bacteria get ride on final space shuttle trip (on purpose)

The last flight of the Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for early July and there’ll be some cool microbes aboard.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are both biofilm-forming bacteria with serious health consequences, particularly in hospitals.  The researchers involved in this project are interested in the effects of microgravity on biofilm formation, and have some preliminary …

Is your pillow trying to kill you as well? More excessive media hype about indoor microbes.

“How your pillow is the perfect breeding ground for gruesome array of pests and diseases”. This headline from the Daily Mail in the UK was one of many yesterday relating to a study presented at the Healthcare Associated Infections 2011 conference in London on Tuesday.  As usual, the study didn’t make any actual associations between …

Viruses aid in the construction of more efficient solar cells.

Like the cement-producing bacteria, this falls under the category of “using microbes to construct the built environment.”  Projects like these have no bearing on the natural microbial ecology of structures, but still go to show that the relationship between humans, microbes,and the built environment is complex and can take many forms. In this work, researchers …

Using bacteria to help restore works of art

Next in my ongoing series of posts related to beneficial microbes in the built environment… using Pseudomonas to restore 17th century Italian frescoes. Apparently these particular frescoes were improperly restored in the 1960’s using some kind of gelatin glue that now causes salt crystals to grow on the art.  Both chemical and mechanical removal methods …

New report on climate change and possible effects on the indoor environment, particularly green buildings

During Indoor Air 2011 there was a lot of buzz about this report which came out halfway through the meeting.  The full title is “Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health (2011)”. This 246-page report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Acadamies goes into great detail about the various ways that climate change …

Reports (2) from Indoor Air sessions on microbiology of the built environment

Things that jumped out at me from the afternoon session today.  For the morning session see here. Norm Pace (CU Boulder) made the point during questions that when we talk about “pathogens” in metagenomic environmental sequences, what we really mean is “sequences related to pathogens” and that probably most of those sequences don’t come from …

Reports from Indoor Air 2011 sessions on microbiology of the built environment

I’m currently at Indoor Air 2011 sitting in on the Sloan Foundation-sponsored sessions on microbiology of the built environment.   There are a number of great talks taking place and we hope to post some more information in the form of slides later.  We’ll probably also post a more formal write-up about some of the discussions …

Beneficial bacteria in urinals

Another cool example of using beneficial microbes in the indoor environment… in this case using Bacillus strains to reduced odors in pub urinals.  The company (CBIO) that markets this device called the “Clearinator” also has other neat sounding microbial-based devices such as the “Bactaerator” and the “Baccelerator”. Pretty simple really, they find bacterial strains that …

“Germs” in cars

When people hear “microbiology of the built environment” they tend to focus on buildings.  But the built environment also includes things like trains, cars, planes, even the space station where some cool microbiology work has taken place. When looking for work on the microbiology of these environments I came across a small, non-peer reviewed study …