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Tips from the journal mBio

Life on a Dead Deep-Sea Vent

When a deep-sea thermal vent goes cold and dormant the microbial life around it does not just stop. Instead, it adjusts and picks up the slack according to researchers from University of Southern California (USC) in the current issue of mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

A hydrothermal vent is a fissure in a planet's surface from which geothermally heated water issues. The area around deep-sea hydrothermal vents is relatively more biologically active than other areas on the ocean floor and scientists have been studying the microbial diversity around these vents since the 1970s. Katrina Edwards and her colleagues from USC and the University of Minnesota chose to study the microbial communities surrounding inactive vents and found some striking differences.

They found that the microbes that thrive on hot fluid methane and sulfur spewed by active hydrothermal vents are supplanted, once the vents go cold, by microbes that feed on the solid iron and sulfur that make up the vents themselves. Scientists have long known that active vents provided the heat and nutrients necessary to maintain microbes, but dormant vents were once thought to be devoid of life.

New Genomic Data Could Aid Rapid Detection of Hospital Infections

Enterococci bacteria, and in particular vancomycin-resistant enterococci, have emerged as a leading cause of multidrug-resistant hospital-acquired infections. Key to treating and controlling these infections is rapid identification of the pathogen and treatment with the appropriate antibiotics to be effective.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and The Broad Institute report new genomic sequencing data that can help aid in the advance detection of pathogenic enterococci. They report their findings in the current issue of mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

"In this study, we examined genome sequence data to define traits with the potential to influence host-microbe interactions and to identify sequences and biochemical functions that could form the basis for the rapid identification of enterococcal species or lineages of importance in clinical and environmental samples," write the researchers.


Contact: Jim Sliwa
American Society for Microbiology

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