Story behind the paper: Porphyrobacter mercurialis, a new species found by #citizenscience and then sent to the #iss

So our first attempt at entering the world of bacterial taxonomy and the description of a new species came out today with the thrilling title of “Porphyrobacter mercurialis sp. nov., isolated from a stadium seat and emended description of the genus Porphyrobacter“. The story leading to this paper took us into  a lot of new …

And the winners of the #spacemicrobes Microbial Playoffs are…

NOTE (3-12-15):  THESE RESULTS ARE INCORRECT.   We have left them here for comparison.   A blog post describing the problem is here and the correct information can be found here. We’ve finished analyzing all the data from the “Microbial Playoffs” part of Project MERCCURI (described here).   Each microbe that was chosen to fly to the International …

The 11.4 million mile swab kit

I’m proud to announce that the sample collection for the building science component of Project MERCCURI is complete! In early May, Koichi Wakata from JAXA (Japan’s space exploration agency) collected swabs swabs of surfaces aboard the International Space Station. Back in June last year, Jenna, Wendy and I went to the Johnson Space Center in …

Interesting though very incomplete story in Nature on Curiosity Rover (before launch)

Just pointed to this story: Microbial stowaways to Mars identified : Nature News & Comment by Darlene Cavalier, our collaborator on the “Space Microbes” Project MERCCURI.  The article reports on a presentation by Stephanie Smith at the ASM 2014 meeting going on in Boston.  Smith presented results from characterizing (via culturing) the microbes present on various parts …

SpaceMicrobes & ProjectMERCCURI get a little press

Quick post here (crossposted from my Tree of Life blog). Our Project MERCCURI got some press coverage relating to an event July 20th with the Arizona Cardinals: Gilbert, Tempe participate in national microbe-swabbing project – East Valley Tribune: Gilbert. From the article: “The event – held at the Arizona Cardinals’ training facility on July 20 – …

The Saga of the Space Plates, Part 2

Microtiter plate readers are often used for measuring optical density in liquid media, and this is what we were planning to do. However, they are general purpose, programmable instruments, and there’s no rule that says you have to use them this way. It occurred to me that all of our problems stemmed from the difficulties …

The Saga of the Space Plates, Part One

Here is a conundrum: Suppose you want to measure growth rates of bacterial cultures in an aerobic environment, on LB, in 96-well plate format. So, you buy some plates from your favorite supplier, dispense some LB into the wells with a multichannel pipetter, inoculate from whatever your source is, and pop it into your plate …