This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday October 12, 2015

A round-up of what we read last week in the media's coverage of biofilms and microbiomes research.

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Despite it being autumn here in the UK, and no longer ice cream season, we were drawn to this article on the Live Science website entitled ‘No More Sticky Mess! Scientists Develop Slower-Melting Ice Cream’. Referencing a paper from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the article explained how researchers have “discovered that a protein called BsIA, normally found in large bacterial communities in structures called biofilm, [that] can be used as an ingredient to keeps everything combined in ice cream”. Live Science gives a useful overview of the paper as well as insight from Cait MacPhee, a professor of biological physics at the University of Edinburgh, and one of the study’s co-authors. The team are yet to taste the BsiA-enhanced ice cream, Live Science reports.

The September 16 issue of Advanced Healthcare Materials featured a paper on ‘Harnessing the Multifunctionality in Nature: A Bioactive Agent Release System with Self-Antimicrobial and Immunomodulatory Properties’, which was picked up by microbiologist and journalist Tim Sandle for Digital Journal. The paper describes a silver-coated biofilm for use on medical implants to safeguard against bacterial contamination and reduce inflammation. Sandle reports that: “While the results are successful, further development work is required in order to show patient safety. The new film could be available within the next couple of years.”

BostInno highlighted the work of ‘microbial fingerprinting’ company Biomiic, based at the Harvard iLab. Biomiic is “developing a program that allows clinicians and researchers to get detailed data about the human microbiome” from human waste, or as one of the founders puts it to BostInno, “we’re making a streamline service from poop to data”. The founders say that their work is in an area that bigger firms are shying away from and that its application is still a long way off, but that they plan to raise a round of funding to launch later this year.

Providers of predictive research models Taconic Biosciences drew our attention to this paper from Microbiome in July 2015, in which the authors “implore scientists in the field to adopt and perfect” their proposed vocabulary for use in microbial community analysis. They state that: “The misuse of terms such as microbiome, microbiota, metabolomic, and metagenome and metagenomics among others has contributed to misunderstanding of many study results by the scientific community and the general public alike.”

We’d love to know your thoughts on the proposed “vocabulary of microbiome research” and to hear what you’ve been reading this week. Please comment below.

Jen Thoroughgood

Former Head of Communities, Springer Nature

I'm no longer with Springer Nature so please send your community-related queries to Thanks!