May 2008 - Bugs get everywhere


Microbes are phenomenally well adapted to almost every environment imaginable, surviving the freezing conditions in Antarctica to the blasts of UV radiation in space. Indeed, there are very few uninhabited areas on Earth. This issue follows microbial life as it travels the oceans and the skies, posing some difficult questions.

Space bugs!
Space is not as empty as we might think, with microbes living happily on the International Space Station. Lewis Dartnell explores the realm of space bugs and considers the risk of forward contamination.

Is microbial life on Mars possible?
There is life on Mars - almost certainly we have delivered terrestrial bacterial spores via probes. But is there indigenous life on Mars? Charles Cockell answers this hotly debated question.

Antarctica: a last frontier for microbial exploration
Since the realization that there is life on the Antarctic continent, research has revealed a multitude of suitably adapted microbes. Brent C. Christner and John C. Priscu peer into this icy habitat.

Antarctic lichens: life in the freezer
Approximately 2% of Antarctica's surface is ice-free, allowing life to flourish. Paul Dyer and Peter Crittenden describe the Antarctic lichens, which dominate the vegetation in terms of biomass and biodiversity.

Ship ballast tanks: how microbes travel the world
Microbial stowaways in ship ballast tanks travel thousands of miles around the world's oceans. Fred C. Dobbs takes us on their journey and looks at the consequences of migrating microbes.

Comment: Fungi as biological controls of insect disease vectors
The use of microbes as biopesticides remains controversial. But as more disease vectors arrive with impending changes in our climate, Nancy Beckage thinks fungi may be needed to control these insects.

Schoolzone
Gemma Sims reports the results of this year's MiSAC competition: Medicines from fungi, and looks at the recent changes in science education.

Gradline
Getting published can be tricky; Jane Westwell offers some helpful advice and gives us Charles Penn's rules for publication success.

Going Public
Research presented at SGM's 162nd meeting in Edinburgh hit the headlines and Lucy Goodchild collects the clippings. Bernard Dixon wonders why so many people are ignorant when it comes to microbes.

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:

  • The 'eyes' have it
  • Novel bacterium from the whale-carcass ecosystem
  • Two pathogens with one drug
  • Just say NO!

Last updated 14 July 2008