Horizontal Gene Transfer

I find it very interesting how quickly microbes are able to develop resistance to antibacterial medication as well as certain types of virus. One of the ways that this is achieved is horizontal gene transfer. I showed this here by showing bacterial conjugation. In the first picture, the resistant bacteria have DNA that is colored orange, while the non-resistant bacteria’s DNA is blue. The viruses are unable to attack the resistant bacteria while they are able to attack and multiply from the non-resistant bacteria.

In the second picture, the resistant bacteria is transferring a resistant plasmid through the conjugation pilus to a non-resistant bacteria. After the new DNA is then incorporated  into the non-resistant bacteria’s DNA through homologous recombination. The third picture shows that after the population becomes resistant to the virus, the virus cannot harm the population anymore.

Here is a link to a study done that shows that bacteria have the ability  to become resistant to viruses given the correct conditions and mutations.


Ancient Microbes Found Hidden in Crystals

Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years


February 18, 2017



Microbes have been found inside giant crystals in caves in Chihuahua, Mexico. These microbes could have survived there for tens of thousands of years undisturbed. They are not like any other genus known currently and after genetic testing from microbial communities in the caves researchers do not think that the crystals were contaminated by other microbes since the crystal’s formation, confirming the age estimates for the microbes.


This goes hand in hand with the extremophile unit. These microbes survived for thousands of years without any contact with the outside world. The microbes could have also made spores since it is unknown if they were dormant for the entirety of thier time in the crystal or for a portion. Whatever the case researchers were able to wake the microbes up and study them in lab.

Critical Analysis:

I found it intersting when the article was talking about astrobiology becasue before this class I had no idea that was a field. Now that I know about it I can see the need in such a field. I also think that it is interesing how these microbes are like no other on Earth and this could help us find life on other planets.


How will NASA insure that no Earth microbes will make it to other worlds where they are studying life?

Bacteriophages the Soldiers of the Future

Bacteriophages, natural drugs to combat superbugs


April 18, 2017



Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine as well as the VA have found a way to decrease the level of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in lab mice. They are using bacteriophages to target the resistant bacteria that they have infected mice with. They hope that this will be a way to combat superbugs in the future.


This is something that could be the answer bacteria becoming resistant to common antibiotics.  Bacteriophages will only attack the bacteria in a host and should leave the host unharmed. However, since bacteria adapt so quickly it might not be a solution for long.

Critical Analysis:

I found the body’s response to infections very interesting. When the body is overactive it often leads to more problems than the infection itself. Usually, antibiotics were used to control the growth of the bacteria causing the infections, however with antibiotic-resistance growth is becoming harder to control. The bacteriophages  could provide the answer to this and save countless lives in the future.


Is there a way for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop a resistance to the bacteriophages that are being used?

Behind  the iron curtain: How methane-making microbes kept the early Earth warm


April 17, 2017



Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences use tropical mud to gain a better understanding of early Earth. They  now realize that ancient microbes used rust as a source of energy and likely suppressed early methanotrophs.


This reminds me of the unit on microbial metabolism. I think it shows just how diverse microbes are and how they can survive in the most inhospitable environments.  This is also interesting to me because we did not talk about microbes that used iron very much nor did we talk about how they competed with early methanotrophs.

Critical Analysis:

It is interesting how microbes seem to survive any condition and the struggles they seemed to have with other microbes. I thought it was very interesting to see how the microbes fought for survival in early Earth. I had never thought of the struggle for life on a microscopic scale. I think that this is scientifically accurate and cannot find any facts that I do not agree with.


Excluding Indonesia’s Lake Matano, are there other places that facilitate this type of microbial living?

Extra Credit: Microbial Worlds

Emergence: The Warming Climate is Waking Up Sleeping Microbes by Nancy Hausle-Johnson

I found this piece very pleasing. The striking colors and patterns made it very interesting to look at. I feel like this piece does embody the concept of waking microbes. The different sections hint that the microbes on top are waking up while the ones on the bottom are poised to make their appearance.

Permafrost Warming  by Mariah Henderson & Eric Henderson

I found it very interesting that so many pieces were over permafrost thawing. However, it does make sense since the thawing permafrost will have such a strong effect on our lives. This piece, I feel, is one of the best representations of thawing permafrost. In the first picture, you can see what looks like blue ice cycles and then small amounts of microbes. Then in the second picture, the ice cycles are absent and the picture is dominated by the growth of the microbes that have been released after the thaw. I think that it is very aesthetically pleasing and would not have done anything differently.

Inoculation The 1%  by Mariah Henderson & Eric Henderson

This piece makes me think of our term project. I had always wondered just how microbes were culture and after lab I now know. It still astounds me that less than 1% of bacterial species can actually be cultured like this. This also makes me wonder what bacteria is present from my collection site that I  was unable to culture.


I find it interesting how microbes are able to transfer genes horizontally to aid in resistance to antibiotics. I do not know how I would have shown this for sure by I might have used conjugation or transduction. I would have picked these two because I think that they will be easiest to show with the most aesthetic appeal.

Microbe Art

The top picture of the mushroom was my best one. It microbes grew in full and filled out the picture. However, in the second picture the microbes did not grow as much, but I think if given more time they would have been solid in the area where they were growing.