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Life On Us

01 February 2008 publication

The lead articles of the February 2008 issue of  Microbiology Today are on skin microbes; S. aureus: 'superbug'; life in your mouth; bacteria in the bowel; and human endogenous retroviruses.

Microshorts (p. 08)

Lucy Goodchild  takes a look at some stories that have hit the headlines recently.

Life on us (p. 12)

Robin Weiss discusses how humans are mobile ecosystems that harbour a wide range of micro-organisms.

Skin microbes (p. 14)

Despite the harsh environment in which they live, Mark Farrar and Richard Bojar explain that microbes on the skin are amazingly diverse.

S. aureus: a 'superbug' (p. 18)

Although S. aureus can be a killer, Simon Foster explains how it is not always harmful and it has a tough fight to survive on our bodies.

Microbial life in the mouth (p. 22)

Dave Spratt explores how the surfaces of the oral cavity offer a home to a variety of microbial communities.

A lifelong commitment to bowel bacteria (p. 26)

Gerald Tannock discusses how commensal bacteria in the bowel of young humans play a vital role in determining their future health.

Human endogenous retroviruses: from ancestral pathogens to bona fide genes (p. 30)

David Griffiths and Cécile Voisset explain how human retroviruses have invaded our germ-line for centuries and now make up ~8% of our genomes.

Schoolzone (p. 36)

Hitting puberty is often a stressful and confusing time in a teenager's life, so Gemma Sims offers her insight and advice in 'Microbes and puberty: a teenager's guide', a taster from the larger resource 'What your mum might not know and probably hasn't told you'. Meanwhile Sue Crosthwaite describes her experience at a three-week Summer School at The University of Manchester, an event designed to encourage A-level students in their interest and study of microbiology.

Gradline (p. 40)

There are a whole range of activities to support early career scientists, of which Jane Westwell gives a few examples particularly relevant to microbiologists. The Society also speaks to Gemma Walton, a postdoc at University of Reading, in a Q&A format.

Going public (p. 48)

Lucy Goodchild reports on the Society's successes in 2007 in promoting microbiology to the public, the media, opinion-formers and policy-makers.

Comment: Microbes as climate engineers (p. 52)

Dave Reay writes about how policy-makers around the world can no longer ignore the role played by micro-organisms in climate change.