This Week In Biofilms And Microbiomes: Monday March 14, 2016

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

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In a recent post of ‘This Week in Biofilms and Microbiomes’, we highlighted a study, published in Water Research, that tested the efficiency of disinfectants in removing biofilms from dental water lines and found that none of the disinfectants recommended by dental unit manufacturers were completely effective on a polymicrobial biofilm. A new research, published in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, has further probed the bacterial biofilms in hospital water pipes and through the use of cutting-edge metagenomic techniques, generated the most metagenomic data so far for the organisms living in these water systems. Researchers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Georgia Institute of Technology investigated the composition of microbial communities growing on five hospital shower hoses using both 16S rRNA gene sequencing of bacterial isolates and whole-genome shotgun metagenome sequencing. The resulting data revealed a Mycobacterium-like population, closely related to M. rhodesiae and M. tusciae, to be the predominant taxon in all five samples. In contrast, the fraction recovered by culture was mostly affiliated to Proteobacteria, such as members of the genera Sphingomonas, Blastomonas, and Porphyrobacter. The biofilm community harbored genes related to disinfectant tolerance (2.34% of the total annotated proteins), and a lower abundance of virulence determinants related to colonization and evasion of the host immune system. Additionally, genes potentially conferring resistance to beta-lactam, aminoglycoside, amphenicol, and quinolone antibiotics were detected. Though well-known pathogens weren't seen in abundance, the presence of genes for antibiotic resistance, resistance to water disinfectants and virulence raises concerns because bacteria can share such genes to potentially become more significant health threats. The work provides a foundation for new research into the types of water disinfection used in hospitals and highlights the need to understand the microbiome of drinking water biofilms using metagenomic approaches. Read the press release covered by EurekAlert, Digital Journal, and Science Daily.

This paper, published in Scientifc Reports, was covered in a recent press release by EurekAlert and Science Codex. Researchers from the University of Missouri have reported a unique microbiome in the male reproductive system that may be responsible for prostatitis, a precursor for prostate cancer, and later health disorders in offspring. The male reproductive tract includes a unique niche in which bacteria thrive, i.e. the seminal vesicles. These glands produce the seminal fluid, which is slightly basic and enriched with carbohydrates; thereby, creating an ideal habitat for microbes or a potential seminal fluid microbiome (SFM). The researchers studied the SFM of wild-type (WT) and estrogen receptor-alpha (ESR1) knockout (KO) male mice and found that the bacterial composition of the SFM is influenced according to whether mice have functional Esr1 genes. The SFM of WT mice contained greater abundance of Propionibacterium acnes, causative agent of chronic prostatitis possibly culminating in prostate cancer, compared to ESR1 KO mice. "The data showed that the bacterial composition found in the male reproductive tract contained potentially detrimental bacteria that can be transmitted to female reproductive partners and offspring," said Cheryl Rosenfeld, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center. “Understanding how genetic and environmental factors influence this particular microbiome could help in understanding how possible developmental disorders and diseases are passed down by fathers to their offspring."

We’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this week. Please comment below.

Richa Dandona

Partnerships and Operations Manager, Nature Partner Journals, Nature Research