Month: June 2019

Unexpected surprises in disease ecology

As we grow up, we learn facts and explanations from textbooks and teachers about the world around us. Most classroom activities in K-12 and even in undergraduate courses use canned labs to demonstrate a concept or a mechanism that have one right solution if done correctly. Published studies paint a clean, straight story from idea to conclusions, leaving out the many failed starts and frustrations along the way. Serving such a sterilized version of science makes the impression that science itself is a tome of absolute and certain knowledge, gained in a straightforward process, and that most of what...

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Gut Pathogens celebrates its 10th anniversary

(Photo by Arek Socha via Pixabay) Gut Pathogens was founded in 2009 as a journal focusing on enteric infections and aimed at an audience in the Global South and middle income countries. The focus of the first articles remained directed at virulence, epidemiology and genomics of classical pathogens. However, soon after the developments in the field of probiotics turned the journal into a preferred venue for research on this topic. Furthermore, parallel developments in genomics of bacteria resulted in an increase of short articles documenting bacterial genomics, and this led us to create a new short article type called...

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Do schistosomes practice the art of host-manipulation?

Biomphalaria snail shedding schistosome cercariae into the water. Copyright Trustees of the Natural History Museum Parasites manipulating host behaviour is not a new story. There are lots of examples of parasites and parasitoids making their poor hosts do the most extraordinary things: grasshoppers purposefully jumping into water and drowning themselves, rats running towards cat urine smells, cockroaches walking into predator wasp lairs etc. This level of skilled “mind-control” would leave even our most talented illusionists agog with admiration and horror. From a public and veterinary health point of view, the concept of host manipulation is of particular interest when...

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Undocumented biodiversity of marine Oomycota is found in the Arctic

(Picture by robynm via Pixabay) We are interested in understanding the relevance of microbes, in particular in the Arctic Ocean. We know that microbes are the base of all marine food webs and make up more than 90% of all biomass in the ocean. Microbes are consumed by zooplankton, which are consumed by fish, which are consumed by whales – essentially, if there are no microbes there no whales. And when whales and other large organisms die, they are again consumed by microbes, closing the loop. Sudden Oak Death US Dept Agriculture We recently turned our attention to exploring...

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The changing narrative of MRSA infection control in the United States

© ksass / Getty Images / iStock A quote often attributed to Winston Churchill aptly observed “The Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.” This observation has never been truer when one looks at our approach to the control of MRSA. Through a series of policy iterations, the United States appears to have progressed from MRSA being a serious public health problem which has to be controlled, to one which we do not have control and usually it “is no big deal”. The time-tested strategy for containing an MRSA...

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