The Hysteria about Listeria: Thoughts on Food in the Built Environment

About a month ago, listeria found in Sabra Hummus caused a massive food safety recall across the US. So I got to thinking — how common are pathogens in the food we eat and how is this addressed on industrial scales? Food is processed, transported, and eaten in our built environments multiple times a day, …

A disturbing trend – casual and reckless use of antimicrobial agents in building materials.

There was a very interesting artilce in the New York Times on August 21 bu Michael Kimmelman: In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already.  The article focuses on a move by the University Medical Center of Princeton to redesign hospital rooms.  And Kimmelman discusses a variety of issues associated with hospital design. And there were …

Who are the microbes in your neighborhood? And some background for #AAASMoBe Symposium

Tomorrow all day there will be a meeting at AAAS HQ on “Microbiomes of the Built Environment“.  I will be speaking at the meeting, and this is one of my major research areas, so I am a bit biased, but the meeting is going to be great I think.  And it will be webcast live. …

Probiotics: The Good, the Bad, The Unknown, and the Crazy

Microbiology is on a roll, it’s been an amazing couple decades of discoveries that have transformed our understanding of the roles that microbes play in human health.  And this knowledge has pushed its way into popular culture.  Every couple of days I see another popular media article about the influence of microbes on something else; …

“…antibiotic resistance genes may be transported via aerosols on local scales”

In their just published paper in Environmental Science & Technology, “Tetracycline Resistance and Class 1 Integron Genes Associated with Indoor and Outdoor Aerosols,” Alison L. Ling, Norman R. Pace, Mark T. Hernandez, and Timothy M. LaPara have found that genes escape the indoor environment and can be found 2 km away. The abstract can be …

Asthma: pacifiers, plasticizers, and microbes

After some off-line dialogue related to my “Should you lick your baby’s dropped pacifier?” blog post, I have decided to post a separate comment regarding the hygiene hypothesis, mentioned in the introduction, and the plasticizer hypothesis, emphasized by some off-line correspondents. What is clear is that in the modern, human-occupied indoor environment, there are microbes …

“Battle Against the Flu” on radio 10 January

Thursday January 10 at 10:06 am on the east coast, the Diane Rehm Show will focus on the flu. You can read the advance description at http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-01-10/battle-against-flu. To find your local station, if you don’t already know it, go to www.npr.org. Most local stations make their broadcasts available on their web sites. “This year’s flu …

Lessons from 2012: Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes

Note from Jonathan Eisen.  This is a guest post from Srijak Bhatnagar a microbiology graduate student at UC Davis. Some of the best conferences arguably are the small one. Instead of the grand size and rapid pace, these warm gatherings over a period of few days allows for budding researchers like me to listen to …