The internets are full of incredible information about microbes. There is a whole ecology of microorganisms – in our bodies, in the soil, in the oceans, and in our cities – that humans are just starting to discover. I have been noting several articles under my “cool science thing” One Note Tab that relate to the microbiome (humans and other otherwise) that I’ve been attempting to curate for your reading pleasure & general amazement. H/T to the awesome folks on my FB feed that supply me with a steady stream of interesting science articles.
(A note on curation: Jonathan Bailey over at the Plagiarism Today blog wrote this handy guide for ethical aggregation of internet content which I’m incorporating into my “Don’t Blog Like a Pirate” ethos. Important distinction between a lovingly selected list of links with relevant editorial gloss vs. spambots.)
- Navel-gazing with the Belly-Button Biodiversity Project. This intrepid “citizen science” project sampled belly button colonies of microbes from volunteers and identified the microbe species that showed up in culture. You can also check out their data and photo galleries of the microbial colonies from different human belly buttons.
- Speaking of the biodiversity of skin microflora, Julia Scott reported back in May 2014 in the New York Times Magazine about her hygiene experiment by bathing with a special bacterial spray instead of soap.
- In the Wall Street Journal, Robert Lee Hotz examines researcher Christopher Mason’s 18-month urban microbiology project tracking the genomes of bacteria inhabiting the NYC Subway stations. There is also a very cool interactive PathoMap feature.
- At the Atlantic, Tori Rodriguez explores how feeding chickens essential oils may help reduce the need for agricultural antibiotic use that contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. No reports on whether feeding chickens oregano and rosemary essential oils also made them tastier.
- As medical professionals deal with the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms, scientists look to the antimicrobial agents that bacteria produce to defend themselves against other bacteria. Denise Grady resports in the New York Times about Teixobactin, a new antibiotic derived from a species of soil-dwelling bacteria.
- In Wired, Liz Stinson profiles artists using microbes to help them create new works. Natsai Audrey Chieza dyes silk scarves with bacteria to produce beautiful colors and designs. Marcus DeSieno is a photographer who grows colonies of bacteria swabbed from toilets or iphones (or wherever) on agar-coated film, the bacteria changing the original image in unique and beautiful ways.