Giant viruses may simply be “Frankenstein” of smaller viruses

Date: April 6, 2017

Source: DOE/Joint Genome Institute


Summary: Viruses have ubiquitous presence in the world. Scientists are interested to study viruses behavior, and to study giant viruses. Recent research discovered that giant viruses and recent viruses are more cell-like now than ever before. Scientists made two evolutionary hypotheses regarding giant virus’ origin. The first hypothesis is that giant viruses came from an evolved ancient cell, and the second one states that giant viruses arose from the smaller viruses.

Connection: This article’s main study was viruses and we were studying viruses and how they infiltrate their host cells.

Critical Analysis: This article is pretty straightforward, even though it mentioned complex processes. What I learned from this article is that the main virus that they were studying was klosneuvirus, which have a huge impact on protists. Scientists’ discovery provided new ways of studying viruses, as well as giant viruses. Scientists’ found out that viruses are becoming more and more cell-like, and because of new found discoveries from their research, they are able to vastly expand their understanding on how viruses capture their host genes during their evolution. I think its really interesting that scientists created two evolutionary hypothesis regarding giant viruses’ origin. Either if giant viruses came from an ancient cell and evolved or if giant viruses arose from the smaller ones. With this in mind, scientists conducted metagenomic tests and found out that   klosneuvirus groups came from from viral lineages affiliated with mimivirus, which are viruses that were found around 2003 and is also a giant virus. I think that these facts that scientists found out were interesting and vital to future research about giant viruses.

Question: Which theory do you think is more accurate and why?

How to disrupt bacteria to better treat infections












Date: April 12, 2017

Source: Nova Southeastern University


Summary: Researchers at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) are looking for ways on how to treat infections without depending too much on antibiotics, since microbe’s resistance to antibiotics are alarmingly rising.

Connection: In class, we talked about how different kinds of bacteria can be susceptible or resistant to antibiotics.

Critical Analysis: This article is pretty short, and I think the researcher’s result could be elaborated more. What I learned from this article is that the researchers from NSU wanted to find a different way of treating infections with minimal use of antibiotics. I think that it’s interesting that they want to find a different approach to treating infections. However, this is going to be extremely hard because humans are still dependent to antibiotics, even though bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics are increasing. With this in mind, researchers from NSU discovered, with the help from University of Minnesota and Duke university, that by shaking the biofilm that bacteria made,   bacteria’s ability to communicate with each other was negatively affected. I, also, learned that by applying a certain amount of frequency into the bacteria will cause them to be confuse in a way that it affects their growth and cooperation.

Question: Do you think that this method of shaking the bacteria in a perfect frequency will be efficient in treating bacterial infections in the future? Why or why not?


Researchers create red-eyed mutant wasps











Date: April 19, 2017

Source: University of California – Riverside


Summary: Scientists created a red-eyed mutant wasps to prove that CRISPR gene-slicing can be successfully used on the parasites, which gave them a way to further study its biology and its selfish way of converting all their progeny into males.

Connections: In this article, they mentioned that these wasps can convert their off-springs to males through selfish genetic elements. In class, we talked about how bacteria can transfer their DNA or genetic information through horizontal gene transfer.

Critical Analysis: This article is a pretty interesting and easy read. It was written pretty nicely. What caught my attention is the fact that they were able to successfully manipulate genetic information so that they can induce mutation to a species. In this article, I learned that these wasps can manipulate and selfishly convert their progeny into males! How cool and selfish is that!?
Also, the process of disrupting a gene from a species to manipulate their eye color is such an amazing and challenging process. In this article, they were able to do exactly that. They used a very, very, very fine needle and a microscope to inject large amounts of embryos; however, eventually, they developed a protocol which help them achieve their goal.

Question: Can scientists use the same process or technology (CRISPR) to manipulate genetic material of other insects? What about animals or humans?

Painting with Microbes

My artistic intent for the TSA plate was a typical tree. I just thought of the word microbes, and for some reason I imagined a tree, because of how abundant and how diverse they are. I think the color from this media added a nice effect around the tree which kind of resembles the color of grass in my opinion. As for the EMB media, I decided to design it with a swirl in the middle that has four arrow-looking shapes on different directions. However, It didn’t turn out how I envisioned it to be. Lastly, for the MAC media, I decided to create a flame-looking microbe art. I thought that the Media color will be vital for this art because it can add another shade of reddish color (not sure exactly what’s the color of it). I used the red/pink microbes for the main body and the outline of the fire, and I did use the yellow microbes inside the fire, unfortunately it didn’t show up as much.

Extra Credit: Simon Lax

Simon Lax’s presentation encompasses bacterial interactions within a normal household environment and how bacterial movement and interactions occur in a hospital setting. He retrieved his data from several houses and a hospital/clinic, and he discussed how microbes can leave microbial signatures along their surroundings and how they are more prevalent the longer the microbes are present in that certain environment.

As for the hospital setting, Simon Lax retrieved his data from various hospital rooms, hospital floors, door knobs, doors, patients, and etc. He then used this data to study and compare the microbiomes that were found. Simon Lax also made concrete graphs and tables that explained his data efficiently.

I really liked how detailed and organized Simon Lax’s presentation was, especially the data that he presented. What really peaked my interest was the concept of microbial signatures because its interesting how microbes interact with their surroundings. Also, I find it interesting that the longer a person stayed in their specific environment, the more similar the microbes are to each other.


Hi Everyone! My name is Albert Espejo. I’m a returning student, with a degree on A.A.S Process Technology. Currently, I’m a Senior college student working towards my pre-pharmacy requirements. I’m hoping to go to a Pharmacy school in the near future. I’m a dancer/choreographer. I used to teach Hip-hop at Mo Holland Dance Studio for about 3 years, and I’m currently in a choreographer showcase in Fairbanks showing this March 2017.