This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday December 7, 2015

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

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Scientific American’s 60-second podcast this week was intriguingly titled ‘Espresso Machines Brew a Microbiome of Their Own’. Highlighting a paper recently published in Scientific Reports, the podcast reveals that “espresso machines can harbor a whole menagerie of bacteria, including some pathogenic species more commonly associated with the toilet”.

Researchers sampled ten Nespresso brand espresso machines and found that nine of the ten machines (although not the coffee pods) harbored residues rich in Enterococcus bacteria and Pseudomonas. Pseudomonas appears to thrive in the presence of caffeine, and break it down, which suggests the bugs might be put to work decaffeinating coffee, or cleaning caffeine residues from our waterways, says Scientific American.

Scientific American makes it clear that the study’s authors say it's "absolutely not the case" that Nespresso machines are dangerous for human health. Read the full paper in Scientific Reports…

Another microbiome-related podcast this week is from KERA, public media publisher for North Texas, US, who recorded a 50 minute-long interview with Rob DeSalle about the state of current microbiome research. DeSalle is curator of entomology in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, US and co-author of Welcome to the Microbiome: Getting to Know the Trillions of Bacteria and Other Microbes In, On, and Around You.

The Kavli Foundation has published the transcript of an interesting roundtable discussion with three of the scientists who authored the Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI) proposal, recently published in Science.

Rob Knight from the University of California, San Diego, US and founder of the American Gut Project, Janet Jansson, chief scientist of biology in the Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, US and coordinator of the Microbiomes in Transition (MinT) initiative, and Jeff F Miller, director of the California NanoSystems Institute, US, a multidisciplinary research organization, and the corresponding author of the consortium’s Science paper, spoke to The Kavli Foundation about the reasons for the UMI, their hopes for the initiative and their own research.

The New Zealand Herald this week focused on the work of New-Zealand-scientists who recently received NZD 1 million funding through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Smart Ideas science investment round. One such resaercher is professor Gary Evans, of the Ferrier Research Institute at Victoria University, who aims to develop materials which could reduce infections that cause orthopaedic implants to be removed. In the study, Professor Evans will team up with researchers from Callaghan Innovation and University of Otago to engineer entirely new materials through coating titanium with molecules that stop biofilm formation.

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!