Microbiology

 

Do other organisms make antibiotics?
As far as I can tell, most of the commercially produced antibiotics are made by bacteria, fungi, and a bit chemistry (more on that in a moment).

It appears, however, that compounds with antimicrobial properties are made by just about everything. Just to make things complicated, these molecules are sometimes called "antibiotics" in the literature and sometimes they're not. Many of the molecules with antimicrobial activity are short peptides–chains of amino acids between 10 and 50 residues long (1 ... Read more

This is a multi-part series on antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Eventually, we'll reach the ways in which bacteria develop antibiotic resistance, but before we get there, we'll spend a little more time on antibiotics themselves.

What have we learned so far?

1. Antibiotics are natural products, made by bacteria and some fungi. We have also learned about the difference between antibiotics and synthetic drugs. There isn't always a clear distinction since chemical groups can be added to antibiotics, making them partly synthetic ... Read more

In case you missed it, the December edition of Animalcules is posted at Aetiology. Look for lots of enjoyable reading about our invisible friends. Read more
Bacteria can cause other epidemics, why not obesity? Is there a relationship between our body weight and our bacterial inhabitants? Two reports in Nature (1, 2) suggest that bacterial populations differ between people who are obese and people who not, and that the bacterial inhabitants of their guts, may be partly to blame. In one study, the authors studied the bacterial populations of their volunteers' intestines by compiling a data set of 18,348 DNA sequences for bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA by sampling feces. Wow! That's a lot of ... well, I won't say it, but you know what ... Read more


What's the difference between a synthetic drug and an antibiotic?

Sometimes there's no difference at all. Let's take a look at chloramphenicol and couple of pencillins.

Chloramphenicol kills many different kinds of bacteria by interfering with their ability to make new proteins. Here's a point where language gets tricky. Originally, chloramphenicol was isolated and purified from Streptomyces (a kind of bacteria). But, chloramphenicol is small and chemists are able to synthesize it. So even though we consider antibiotics to be natural products, they don't ... Read more

Antibiotics are molecules of biological warfare. Produced by bacteria and some fungi, in response to extracellular signals, antibiotics represent a diverse group of compounds that inhibit bacterial growth at different points and different stages of the life cycle. We will get around to antibiotic resistance, but in these few words, I think I already wrote quite a bit. Admittedly, some of these ideas need a bit of chewing, if they are to be properly digested. Already, I can imagine hands raised and questions waiting to be asked.

What are antibiotics made of? ... Read more

A few weeks ago, I wrote about visiting the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Pacific Science Center and learning how DNA analysis is being used to help put pieces of the scrolls together. One of the mysteries that was discussed in the exhibit was the question of whether the members of the religous sect living in nearby Qumran were the authors or at least the owners of the scrolls. It appears that the owners left other clues behind that have answered this question. One of the ... Read more
When can a really bad virus be used to do something good? i-a6550bc9f8fd2b4ba98054d13cd679e5-hiv_photo.jpg When we can use it to learn. The human immunodeficiency virus, cause of AIDS, scourge of countries, and recent focus of ScienceBlogs; like humans, evolves. As one ... Read more
Trade publications; such as catalogs, technical bulletins, and web sites; are a valuable source of information for students in biotechnology-related courses. Not only do catalogs and technical publications provide current information, but they also contain a wealth of useful facts and physical constants that biologists need on-the-job. Further, using catalogs in the classroom mimics the way that science is carried out in the real world. In the research lab, scientists and technicians often rely on catalogs, technical bulletins, and web sites, for quick and useful information. I probably ... Read more
i-88f6464d4c019e769897ee428c21834a-Picture 5.0.jpgA few years ago, the General Biology students at the Johns Hopkins University began to interrogate the unseen world. During this semester-long project, they study the ecosystems of the Homewood campus, and engage in novel research by exploring the microbial ecosystems in different sections of the campus. Biology lab students gather environmental samples from different campus ... Read more

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