Microbiology Today May 2007 - Actinobacteria
From the bacteria that bring us useful
secondary metabolites, there are stories of death and destruction, beauty
and benefit. Anything is possible when it comes to the ever-surprising
actinobacteria, and this issue of Microbiology Today explodes myths
about the group that has antibiotics at its core.
An introduction to the
The actinobacteria have progressed from being obscure soil-dwelling
organisms to some of today's most recognized and industrially useful
microbes. David Hopwood gives us an overview of the group, charting their
story from discovery and confusion in the 1870s to the commercial
excitement of the 1960s and modern genome analysis.
not just antibiotics
They are good at what they do, but it's no reason to ignore the remainder
of their wide-ranging abilities. Rosemary Loria shows us that
Streptomyces don't always cure our ills and can leave a trail of
devastation, especially for potato farmers.
Good, bad, but
beautiful: the weird and wonderful actinobacteria
Meet Frankia, helpful microbes that fix atmospheric nitrogen. And
Leifsonia, plant pathogens that terrify sugar cane farmers. And how
about Nocardia, that sometimes form hyphae, and sometimes don't.
Paul Hoskisson surveys the rocky terrain of the actinobacteria and
illustrates just how diverse they can be.
good guys and the bad guys
Here is a group that contains commensals that are also pathogens causing
diseases like diphtheria, and one of the most important model microbes,
Corynebacterium glutamicum. Michael Bott takes a look at the
corynebacteria and explores their metabolic potential.
Two significant and persistent diseases, leprosy and tuberculosis, can
attribute their success to the ingenuity of the mycobacteria. Matt
Hutchings reviews the ways in which we are attempting to eradicate the
pathogens, and looks at the use of non-pathogenic species as model
organisms to aid investigations.
Comment: Review of UK
The success of microbiology is fundamental to the wellbeing of the UK's
biological research base. Charles Dorman recalls the recently completed
review of research funded by BBSRC and discusses various implications for
Encouraging young scientists is simple. Just take an awards ceremony,
throw in some glitz and glamour... and a little Ronan Keating goes a long
way! Above all, school students need the freedom to develop their own
research projects, as Jane Westwell and Sue Assinder illustrate.
Jane Westwell recounts presentations by microbiologists about their
careers and asks PhD - what's next?
Hot off the
highlights some new developments in microbiological research published in
the Society's journals -
Microbiology, Journal of General Virology, International
Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology and Journal of
Topics covered include:
- Iron-Age TB
- A new bioinsecticide against Colorado beetle
- Vaccinia virus fights back
- Gonorrhoea in court
Other items include:
Last updated 9 July 2007