Best of the blog 2015

Posted on December 22, 2015   by Benjamin Thompson

Given that it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2015 and wave hello to 2016, it seems like the right moment to have a look back at some of the posts we’ve had on the blog and reflect on what a great year it’s been for us on Microbe Post.

Before we do though, I’d like to say a huge thank you for taking the time to read, listen to and watch our content. We’ve got exciting plans for 2016, and lots of outstanding microbiology to talk about.

In classic reverse order, let’s have a look at our most viewed new posts of 2015:

10. The JAM was packed…

This post, written by Dr Amanda Rossiter, describes the first Junior Award for Microbiology event, held at the Institute for Microbiology and Infection in Birmingham. The event was run for, and organised by, early career researchers to give them a forum to discuss their work with their peers.

9. Microbe Talk: January 2015

Back at the beginning of the year, I spoke to Dr Jack Gilbert and Dr Josh Neufeld, who wrote a thought experiment, published in PLOS Biology, which describes what might happen if every bacterium and every archeon on the planet suddenly vanished. Spoiler: the results wouldn’t be pretty…

8. What gives wine its taste? (We heard it’s on the grapevine…)

In our first pun-tacular entry into the top ten, Jon Fuhrmann learnt about winemaking in Italy, and research into terroir effect – how the local microbiome might affect a wine’s “personality”.

7. Antibiotics: weapons or signals?

Antibiotic resistance has been in the news a lot this year, and will likely hit the headlines repeatedly in 2016 too. Soil bacteria produce most of the antibiotics we use clinically, but why do they create them? Are they weapons to kill competitors, or signals to communicate with their peers? Anand Jagatia spoke to some researchers who are trying to find out…

6. Q&A: Professor Jeff Errington

Back in February, I had the chance to interview Society member Professor Jeff Errington FRS, who was awarded the Royal Society’s Leeuwenhoek Medal. Jeff described his work on the cell replication cycle and the search for the ‘last common ancestor’.

5. Antibiotic resistance transfer: where’s the culprit?

In the second of our antibiotic resistance posts in the top ten, Jon spoke to Mark de Been, a bioinformatician at the Utrecht Medical Centre, who has been working to identify the route of transmission for antibiotic resistance in E. coli.

4. Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever: A Phantom Menace

Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (also known as CCHF) is a very nasty viral haemorrhagic fever, which is transmitted via tick bites. In this post, Jon spoke to Dr Karen Buttigieg from Public Health England’s Porton Down about work on the virus, and efforts to create a vaccine.

3. Conflict and cooperation in bacterial communities

In this post, Anand spoke with Dr Gürol Süel from UC San Diego about a paper he and his colleagues published on cooperation that occurs between bacteria within a biofilm. This post contains some awesome GIFs, which are well worth checking out.

2. Deadlier than Darth: Death by worm-star

In the second Star Wars-related title in this top ten (apologies for referencing the prequel trilogy before), Anand interviewed Dr Laura Clark about her research on ‘worm stars’, published in our journal, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. These stars are literally made up of worms, all stuck together via their mouths, thanks to a bacterial strain known as ‘Verde 1’. If you thought the animations in the last post were something, wait until you see the video in this one…

1. Fungal spores: the root of rain?

Far and away the most popular of this year’s new posts was this one, in which I interviewed Professor Nik Money about his research into whether fungal spores – all fractions of a millimetre in diameter – might be responsible for rainfall hundreds of metres up in the air. Nik presented this work at one of our Focused Meetings; shortly after, he published a paper about it in PLOS ONE, which received masses of coverage on the Internet.