Microbiology Today May 1999
This issue focuses on biophysics and the applications that are
relevant to microbiology. The set of articles discusses the physics of
instruments, what limits their performance and the possibilities for
extending our knowledge of micro-organisms that recent developments in
technology are opening up.
Microscopes are a vital tool of the microbiologist. Dave
Roberts and Gianfranco Novarino of the Natural History Museum consider the
various factors that are important in producing a good image, such as
resolution, contrast and depth of field, and describe how cameras, videos
and computers can be used to record and enhance the final product.
Atomic Force Microscopes achieve molecular resolution and
enable samples to be imaged under fluids, permitting the real-time
observation of biological processes in near native conditions. Alastair
Smith describes how a range of biological materials can be studied using
AFM, including proteins, membranes and nucleic acids and their complexes
Cryo-electron microscopy allows the observation of biological
samples in a layer of vitrified water. The images obtained show details of
the entire specimen. Stephen Fuller, a senior researcher at the European
Molecular Biology Laboratory, explains how recent exciting developments in
the technique are being exploited by scientists.
X-ray crystallography has been used to study viruses for over
20 years. David Stuart and his colleagues describe how the technique has
recently enabled research into the structure of bluetongue virus to make
Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) allows the structural study of
small macromolecules in solution. It produces information which is
complementary to both X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy.
Stephen Matthews shows how it is being used to study the molecular basis
of bacterium host-cell interactions in enteropathogenic E. coli.
Raman spectroscopy is used in biology mainly to measure changes
in vibration states of macromolecules or related small molecules. In
microbial ecology, the technique can provide information on the molecular
composition of the natural environment and how it changes with time.
Nozomi Ytow describes the different types of Raman light scattering and
After all the hard science, Howard Gest gets back to the basics of
bacterial classification. He argues that scientists should not be
too hasty in making changes to taxonomy based only on the latest molecular
How do molecules cross microbial membranes? This topic will be
discussed in depth at the SGM meeting at the University of Leeds, 7-10
September 1999. Bruce Ward, co-organiser of the symposium (which will be
published in book form) gives a taster of the extensive range of subjects
to be covered.
How do you make your scientific meetings go with a swing? Philip
Mortimer, convener of the Clinical Virology Group, suggests that holding a
debate stimulates discussion and gets the latest findings over in a
Hot off the Press highlights some new developments in
microbiology research that have been published in recent issues of SGM
journals - Microbiology, Journal of General Virology and
International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology. Topics include:
Archaeology meets microbiology
Microbes from the deep blue sea
A fatal break
Viruses and transgenic crops
Last updated 29 May 2003