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 actinobacteria
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.

Streptomyces: 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.

Corynebacteria: the 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.

The mycobacteria
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 microbial science
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 the future.

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 Press 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 Medical Microbiology. 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