An Invisible Bug Ate My Experiment:  What to Do about Greenhouse Infestation

An Invisible Bug Ate My Experiment: What to Do about Greenhouse Infestation

In theory, the greenhouse is a controlled laboratory environment where only the organisms you’ve introduced live. But in practice, just as other laboratory environments suffer from ‘unwelcomed guests’ (e.g. contamination and infestation), greenhouses are not always as sterile as you would like. To avoid any experimental issues, you have to be vigilant about these pesky…

Laser in a droplet

Laser in a droplet

When you hear about a laser, you likely imagine a medium-size apparatus with a light beam coming out of it, not a bacterium in a drop of liquid. Well, Turkish and British scientists went beyond ordinary imagination – they expressed a fluorescent protein in E.coli and suspended live bacteria in droplets. Illuminated droplets served as…

How to Eliminate 99% of the Water from Your Culture, or Solid State Fermentation

How to Eliminate 99% of the Water from Your Culture, or Solid State Fermentation

When you think about culturing bacteria or fungi in large quantities, you likely envision flasks shaking or maybe bioreactors filled to the brim with liquid media. But did you know that many bacteria and fungi can grow on solid carriers without being submerged in liquid? Enter solid state fermentation (SSF). In this article, I’ll introduce…

“Viable But Non-Culturable (VBNC)”: Zombies of the Bacterial World

“Viable But Non-Culturable (VBNC)”: Zombies of the Bacterial World

Imagine that you want to test the efficiency of an antimicrobial treatment in inhibiting a certain bacterial pathogen. As part of the experiment, you expose the bacteria to the treatment and monitor the cultivability of the microorganism by counting the number of colony forming units (CFU) formed on culture media. If the microorganism is sensitive…

The Amazing World of Biofilms

The Amazing World of Biofilms

What do water pipe slime, dental plaque, and persistent contact lens case contamination have in common? All are the result of biofilms! Biofilms are aggregates of microbes that adhere to surfaces using secreted matrices. Although relatively under explored, this fascinating phenomenon plays a critical role in some of the biggest challenges currently facing medicine, ranging…

Handling Your Bacteriophage in a Sea of Bacteriologists

When I first told a lab colleague I was going to be doing phage work in a lab that had otherwise only dealt with bacteria, I was met with expressions of awe, and then fear. Being that a bacteriophage is essentially a predator of bacteria, this reaction is legitimate for a bacteria-loving scientist. Also, we…

Introducing You to the Wonderful World of Microbes!

Introducing You to the Wonderful World of Microbes!

Welcome to the microbe series where we have a very exciting line-up planned over the coming months. Here we will talk about everything microbial, including the uses of microbes in industry and medicine, emerging pathogens, diagnostics, and much, much more! Let’s kick off this series with an introduction into these wonderful, yet sometimes nasty, organisms…

E.coli Electroporation vs Chemical Transformation

E.coli Electroporation vs Chemical Transformation

This is the first in a three-part series on the transformation of E.coli. By the end of this, you should be an expert on E.coli transformation and on which strains to choose for different applications. If you’re already an expert, I hope it’ll be an enjoyable refresher for you. In either case, please comment below…

The World of Microbes (II): The Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease

The World of Microbes (II): The Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease

If you google “What’s hot in medicine,” you will see the word “gut microbiome” popping up in every corner of the webpage. Microbes keep your body functioning in balance – from digesting complex carbohydrates to fighting off foreign pathogens and educating your immune system. They have even been linked to maintaining brain function as well….

How Thermophilic Bacteria Survive, Part II: DNA

How Thermophilic Bacteria Survive, Part II: DNA

In part I, I answered the question, “How do proteins in thermophiles survive under high temperatures?” In this part, I’ll look look at how nucleic acids survive -thrive, even- in conditions that are too hot for most of us, but ideal for a number of organisms, including the one that gave us Taq polymerase and…

Go For Gram! Staining Bacteria for Light Microscopy

Go For Gram! Staining Bacteria for Light Microscopy

The Gram stain is another commonly used special stain in the histology lab. Why use a Gram stain? The Gram stain is a type of differential staining technique which represents an important initial step in the characterization and classification of bacteria using a light microscope. It is named after a Danish scientist, Hans Christian Gram,…

Tips for Heating up Agar in the Microwave

Tips for Heating up Agar in the Microwave

One of our readers posted the following question to us and we decided to pass it along to everybody’s favorite microbiology expert, Aunt Yersinia: For one year I am working in different research laboratories, after I got from school. I keep wondering why EVERYBODY is using pre-made Agar solutions for pouring plates, and EVERYBODY is…