Beneficial Microorganisms in Humans and Corals

By Samantha Zuniga-Levy, Wesleyan ‘19 From Peixoto et al. 2017   What do you do when you’re having digestive issues? Assuming of course, that these issues are ongoing and not simply the result of some questionable fast food you ate last night, you might consider taking probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that, when ingested by … Read more

Fred’s March for Science address

On this Earth Day, many of us can recall a time, decades ago, when our country broadly supported protection of the Earth. We were motivated partly by human health—based on the science of health dangers from air and water pollution, we passed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, both with strong bipartisan … Read more

Meet Pantoea alhagi, Wheat’s Microbial Helper

  Sam Zuniga-Levy Wes ’19 What is the connection between the recent conflict in Syria and a new scientific study involving bacteria that promote plant health? Two words: climate change. According to a New York Times article by Henry Fountain, Syria experienced an extreme drought from 2006-2009 that was most likely due to climate change. The … Read more

Kiritimatiellaeota: A Case of Identity

By Isaac Klimasmith ’20 A case of concealed identity. True form unearthed, hiding in plain sight. A complicated backstory revealed. In short, all the trappings of a good Sherlock Holmes story. This is not a fictional tale written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but one written by evolution and adaptation. The players are not detectives … Read more

Recombination Does Not Hinder Prokaryotic Speciation

The biological species concept has dominated thinking about the origin of species since the 1940s, owing to the influential work of Ernst Mayr. The central idea behind the BSC is that recurrent recombination prevents populations from diverging into new species that are irreversibly separate; therefore, genetic exchange between populations must be severely reduced before they … Read more

The (rare!!) brain-eating amoeba in warm ponds

  Here I’m trying once again to offer tales from microbial ecology to make swimmers’ and divers’ lives better. As an open-water swimming enthusiast, I was particularly intrigued by this article on an amoeba that people can get from swimming in nature, particularly in warm water. This tale made me grateful that my open-water swimming … Read more

Swimmers’ flu and probiotics

The swim season comes at an awful time, epidemiologically speaking. It runs from November 1 through mid-February and longer for those star athletes competing in postseason. Timed perfectly to coincide with the peak of the cold and flu season! It’s been known for a long time that moderate exercise helps the immune system fight off … Read more

A new column on swimming and infection

As faculty advisor for Wesleyan’s Swimming and Diving team, I’m trying to give the athletes useful information as well as I can. I am a schlepper swimmer and have no special advice on how athletes can keep healthy and strong through swimming. I’ll leave that to our talented and dedicated coach Peter Solomon. So I … Read more

The Microbes We Should Be Thankful For

Thomas Kim, Wesleyan class of 2016 Antibiotics have prevented deadly pathogens from killing us for many decades now. However, widespread abuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance in our pathogens, causing at least 2 million deaths per year. Moreover, the repercussions of antibiotic abuse appear to go way beyond resistance. In his book Missing … Read more