Today February 2000
This issue is the first to be published in the new millennium.
We have indulged in a little crystal-ball-gazing to mark the occasion, but
also focus on some
innovations in microbiology and consider the professional development of
To make progress in microbiology - such as combating the effects of
or harnessing microbial activities to solve problems - money is required.
SGM President Howard Dalton explains how effective communication of our
science to the
public and policy makers is crucial if future research is to be funded
One of the major challenges facing microbiologists is to develop new
microbial infections. Petra Oyston covers the wide-ranging topics
speakers in the SGM/SfAM symposium at the SGM meeting at the University of
(10-11 April 2000).
The widespread emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance means that there
is no longer a pill
for every ill. Ian Chopra, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Leeds
the rise of the superbugs and shows how genomics is offering
for the discovery of new antibiotics.
The incidence of foodborne disease seems to be rising inexorably.
Tom Humphries and
his colleagues at the PHLS laboratories in Exeter look at some of the
for this unacceptable situation and describe the focus of current research.
Clinicians have long used smell as a means of diagnosing disease. Tim
Gibson of Bloodhound
Sensors describes how this arcane art is being turned into a science by
the development of
Microbes have an amazing capacity to degrade and transform a wide range of
pollutants in nature.
Now engineers and microbiologists are collaborating to harness these
powers to treat waste
products of industrial processes. Ajay Sharman and Cliff Burton of
Viridian EHC Ltd have developed
a novel bioremediation system to treat waste solvent in the
In Europe a consortium of research groups is investigating mobile
genetic elements in
bacteria, with a view to exploiting their potential in industry,
and environmental management. Chris Thomas and Konny Smalla, of MECBAD
(Mobile Genetic Elements'
Contribution to Bacterial Adaptability and Diversity), describe how the
concerted efforts of
molecular biologists and ecologists is helping to bring this about.
Microbiologists should exercise caution before embarking on a new project,
for as Milton Wainright
of Sheffield University warns, it may all have been done before! He takes
some examples from the
older literature of past work on current hot topics, and speculates
that many good ideas
lay forgotten in dusty tomes on the library shelves.
In satirical mood, Howard Gest, Emeritus Professor at Indiana University,
reports on the discovery
of the bacterial taxonomy gene, thus supporting his contention that
scientists may well be
barking up the wrong phylogenetic tree.
Microbiologists have their professional development to consider, as well
as their research. Those
teaching in academia are currently under scrutiny from the Quality
Assurance Agency. This body is
now turning its attention to benchmarking of degree courses. Helen
O'Sullivan of Liverpool
Hope University describes the implications for microbiology teaching in
Learned societies have to look to the future, no matter how successful
they are at present. Ron
Fraser, Executive Secretary of the SGM, explores the issues that face
representing life scientists in the new millennium.
Hot off the Press
[Acrobat PDF] highlights some new developments
in microbiological research that have been published in the Society's
Microbiology, Journal of General Virology and
International Journal of
Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. Topics covered include:
[Acrobat PDF] covers a range of successful
activities to teach children about microbiology
- Glowing in the dark - the effects of UV light on bioluminescent
- Out of Africa - the geographical origins of ONN and CHIK
- Fire and ice - new species of bacteria, some from Icelandic
Springs and others from
- Cats and dogs - the transmission of parvoviruses from pets to
- Dung lovin' thermophiles - the microbial secrets of chicken
- Stuck on you - Candida albicans and streptococci bond in
- 'Permo-Triassic Park' - can bacteria survive in rock salt for
millions of years?
Other items include:
Last updated 29 May 2003