This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday November 16, 2015

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

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The American Museum of Natural History, New York, US is hosting a new exhibition dedicated to the microbiome. The Secret World Inside You opened on November 7 and “explores the rapidly evolving science that is revealing the complexities of the human microbiome and reshaping our ideas about human health, offering new perspectives on common health problems including allergies, asthma, and obesity”.

Numerous media outlets highlighted the exhibition, including Tech Insider, which took the opportunity to present ‘30 mind-blowing facts about the microbes that live inside of you’, including that ‘women's hands typically harbor more lactic acid bacteria than men's hands’.

Signal, a new health and medicine podcast series from STAT - itself a new publication “focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery” - dedicated its first podcast to the human microbiome. Authors Meg Tirrell and Luke Timmerman speak to leaders in the field, including to Martin Blaser about how antibiotic overuse can kill bacteria important for a healthy microbiome. Especially interestingly, they also talk to Mark Smith of OpenBiome, Roger Pomerantz of Seres Therapeutics and Lee Jones of Rebiotix about fecal transplants, and the potential competition between these companies’ approaches.

This paper published online on November 10 by mBio was picked up by technology-focused publication Ars Technica. The research suggests that antibiotics may have more side effects on the gut, over a longer period, than previously thought. “In the mouth, on the other hand, researchers found that microbial communities fared much better, rebounding in weeks after antibiotic treatments… [This] could imply that oral microbiomes are innately more resilient, a quality that would be useful to replicate in microbial communities all over the body.”

Away from the world of the human microbiome, a paper from the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering caught the eye of Silicon Republic, which published the feature ‘UCD researchers develop cheap, green biofilm removal technique’. The article explains how “enzyme-coated nanoparticles could gently brush and clean biofilm grown on plastic surfaces”. Silicon Republic quotes lead author on the study, Eoin Casey of University College Dublin, Ireland, who said: “The results of our study demonstrate that enzyme-functionalised nano-beads may potentially pave the way for the identification of a new family of non-corrosive and environmentally-friendly anti-biofilm and anti-fouling agents”.

Finally, MD Magazine published a brief update from the 2015 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in San Francisco, US, highlighting an abstract presented by Gregg Silverman and colleagues at the NYU School of Medicine, US. The team’s research suggests that “clinical SLE [Systemic lupus erythematosus] disease is associated with microbiome imbalances, specifically with decreases in the diversity and blooms of specific operational taxonomic units in the the intestine”.

We’d love 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!