Best of the blog 2020

Posted on December 14, 2020   by Laura Cox

It’s hard to believe that we’re coming to the end of 2020. This year the news has been dominated by microbes, and microbiologists have never been more important nor had more challenges to overcome. Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard at Microbe Post to keep sharing the work of microbiologists, microbiological research and, unavoidably, SARS-CoV-2. Let’s take a look back at some of the most-read blog posts from 2020.


10 A faster way to determine antimicrobial susceptibility

In January, Kerry Falconer, PhD student at the University of St Andrews discussed her contributions to the development of a new device which can be used to rapidly predict the susceptibility of a micro-organism to antimicrobial drugs. This device could be used to improve speed and efficacy of patient treatments, prolonging the useable life of a number of antimicrobial drugs.   

9 Answering questions about COVID-19

Our members have provided a voice of reason and their expert knowledge throughout the pandemic. In this blog, Dr Lucy Thorne, Professor Greg Towers, Professor Richard Milne and Dr Lorena Zuliani-Alvarez provide answers to some of the most asked questions about COVID-19 in a helpful resource.

8 New antibiotics needed: Staphylococcus aureus

In the tenth blog of our New antibiotics needed blog series, Laura looks at Staphylococcus aureus, the bacterium that produces gold-coloured colonies when cultured in the lab. Read the blog to find out more about the history of this organism, why is poses such a threat to human health and the challenges of treating S. aureus infections.

7 What are extremophiles?

In this video blog, which was published as part of our Microbes and where to find them digital content hub, Matt takes a closer look at the microbes that live in some of the most hostile environments on Earth. These extremophiles –- microbes that thrive in extreme conditions – have contributed to some incredible scientific advances and helped us to understand what is really needed for life on Earth. If you haven’t seen it already, go and check out the video.

6 Fungal diseases: a silent threat you need to know about

In this blog (which includes some seriously gross images!) Dr Gerard Sheehan, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, discusses fungal diseases and why research into these lesser-known pathogens is so important. Fungal diseases predominantly affect people in lower- and middle-income countries, meaning they receive less attention and funding than some other disease-causing microbes. As the climate changes and international travel increases, fungi are becoming more important than ever.

5 Antimicrobial resistance: the next pandemic?

In this blog, Michael Devlin discusses the risk antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses to the future of a humanity preoccupied with SARS-CoV-2. With an estimated 700,000 people dying from drug-resistant diseases each year, the threat of AMR is very real. Michael discusses some leading research into AMR and how the spread of antimicrobial-resistant diseases can be controlled.

4 Coronastream: establishing cause and effect

This was the first of Dr Tim Inglis’ Coronastream blog series during which he summarises some recently published scientific articles and how the findings will influence the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The blog, published in May, discusses optimising RT-PCR to diagnose COVID-19; how comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure affect outcomes in COVID-19 patients; tissue pathology in COVID-19 patients and public health measures in different US states.

3 COVID-19 testing

One of the many contributions our members have made towards the UK’s pandemic response is in helping to establish and staff testing laboratories set up around the UK to diagnose infection with SARS-CoV-2. During lockdown, while many universities and workplaces were closed, microbiologists from many career stages volunteered to aid with the testing efforts. Two of our most popular blogs this year were from members Connor Hayward and Ellie Boardman who both discuss their time spent working in the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Laboratory.

2 Life after a pandemic: what can we learn from the Spanish flu?

In this blog, Fiona Mitchell reflects on the parallels between the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic. What was learned about infectious disease control 100 years ago is still shaping public health measures today. Fiona ends with a message of hope; like the Spanish flu, this pandemic too will end.

1 In pictures: the first images of a coronavirus

SARS-CoV-2 is just one of seven human coronaviruses. The first ever coronavirus was described back in 1964 by virologists June Almeida and David Arthur John Tyrell. Two years later, the first microscopy images of any coronavirus were published in the Journal of General Virology. In this blog, we look back at these very first images and explore the physical features of the virus.

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to the blog this year. We look forward to finding out more about your research in 2021.