Sarah Larcombe - My Final Thoughts

Posted by on 23 August 2015

It's time for me to say goodbye, and pass the reigns of the ASM Twitter onto the next lucky ASM Communication ambassador! I've learnt a lot in the past two weeks, especially in terms of juggling a new role along with all the other ones us scientists tend to assume on a day-to-day basis (apart from actually doing lab work!).

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Sarah Larcombe - First Blog Entry

Posted by Sarah Larcombe on 10 August 2015

Larcombe Sarah small Hi everyone! I’m Sarah and I’d like to welcome you into my world for the next couple of weeks as I take the reigns of the ASM blog and Twitter account!

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David Cleary - First ASM Blog

Posted by on 20 July 2015

IMG 2253I am not Australian. Phew! I’m glad we got that out of the way. Yes I am indeed not from these shores.  I am from the UK and for the next two weeks I’ve been given unprecedented access to you via your laptops, tablets and smartphones as an ASM communications ambassador. In addition to the occasional blog here, I’ll also endeavour to keep you entertainingly informed of developments that I hope will be of interest to you via the ASM twitter account. I also tweet from @bacterioskeptic

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Bish Marzook - First Post

Posted by on 29 June 2015

BishMarzook pic1Hi all, my name is Bish Marzook and I’ll be managing (or should I say micro-managing? #sorry #notsorry) the Communication Ambassador role here at ASM for the next few weeks. I’m pretty excited to be able to share my interests (scientific and otherwise) with all of you!

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Sam Manna - ASM mini-interview with Associate Professor Ashley Franks, Applied Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Head at La Trobe University

Posted by on 25 June 2015

SM: Can you tell us a little bit about your PhD and what have you done since then?

AF: I conducted my doctorate research as part of the Centre of Marine Biofouling and Bioinnovation at the University of New South Wales by investigating antifungal compounds produced by marine bacteria in biofilms. During my PhD I spent 4 months at the University of Exeter in the UK on an Adrian Lee fellowship to develop dual bacterial/yeast biofilm systems. On graduating I moved to the Biomerit Research Centre in Cork, Ireland to worked on bacterial-plant interactions as a Government of Ireland Fellow in Science Technology and Engineering. This research looked at how to use bacteria to help plant growth. I then took a position as a Senior Scientist and Research Professor within the Geobacter Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the USA where I worked on microbes that can eat and breath electricity.

SM: What is your current area of research?

AF: I currently work in the area of applied environmental microbiology. I work with electromicrobiology, soil biology and microbiome communities for their application in bioremediation, phytoextraction and in the context of the gut-brain axis. I am also using synthetic biology to engineer microbes for detection of pollutants in the environment.

SM: What made you choose this area of research?

AF: I have always enjoyed studying the complex interactions and processes that bacteria carry out. I seems like a large complex puzzle that has to be teased apart. I am also always amazed at the process that bacteria can carry out.

SM: To date, what would you say are some of your biggest achievements in microbiology?

AF: I think the in situ real-time monitoring of gene expression in biofilms on an electrode surface or the understanding of community levels drives during interactions with plants.

SM: What advice would you give to any students or early career researchers with a desire to become successful researchers?

AF: Don’t be afraid to take a risk and fail. Finding out the ways not to do something can be as important as finding out the way to do it.

For more information:

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Sam Manna – La Trobe University Researcher Dr Steve Petrovski investigates the potential application of viruses in wastewater treatment

Posted by on 21 June 2015

Recently, I had the opportunity to contribute to some work that focused on methods of wastewater treatment. While there are various methods to remove chemical contaminants, the removal of biological contaminant can be difficult. Among these possible methods is the use of bacteriophages to target bacteria that interfere with the wastewater treatment process. So I thought I would tell you all a little about it.

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Sam Manna - ASM mini-interview with Dr Edward Fox, Research Microbiologist at CSIRO

Posted by on 19 June 2015

SM: Can you tell us a little bit about your PhD and what have you done since then?

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Sam Manna - ASM mini-interview with Dr Sanja Aracic, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at La Trobe University

Posted by on 17 June 2015

SM: Can you tell us a little bit about your PhD?

SA: Curdlan, an extracellular polysaccharide (EPS), is produced by Agrobacterium. The most consistently described feature of curdlan production is that it occurs optimally during stationary phase under N-limiting and C-rich conditions. My PhD investigated the genetic basis for the association between curdlan production and N-limitation in Agrobacterium sp. Investigations dissected the role of the widely recognised global two-component regulatory system, NtrB/C, in curdlan production and also the role of the less well characterised NtrY/X system. The study advanced knowledge of the requirements, roles and consequences of these two-component regulatory systems in curdlan production. It also revealed unexpected effects on the production of additional EPS (EPS-X and EPS-Y) and highlighted a regulatory interplay between all three EPS. This study provided insight into additional regulatory controls that apply in curdlan production including the importance of metal ions. Investigations of survival advantages that accrue from EPS production revealed that curdlan and EPS-X serve different functional roles in the life of Agrobacterium, presumably enhancing its ability to occupy a variety of niche habitats.

SM: What is your current area of research?

SA: Detection and quantification of a wide range of hazardous substances (e.g. heavy metals) is required to minimise harm to the ecosystem of contaminated environments. Analytes of these hazardous substances can enter and accumulate in the food chain causing potential harm to humans. Current detection methods of contaminants in water and soil environments are not always practical as they are time-consuming, costly and require off-site testing. These limitations can be overcome using whole cell biosensors. The ability to genetically manipulate regulatory elements to produce a detectable and measurable signal with a range of sensitivities and specificities has resulted in the utilisation of commonly used laboratory microorganisms as biosensors. For whole cell biosensors to be feasible for the detection of contaminants in the environment, a wider range of microorganisms with integrated output systems is required. This study is focused on utilising electroactive bacteria (Pseudomonas, Shewanella and Geobacter) as biosensors. These microorganisms can interact directly with electrode surfaces and have the potential to be integrated into electronic devices.

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