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Vertical Transmission

We recognise that the discipline of Microbiology is changing rapidly, and we continually strive to bring diverse offerings to our members. For example, we organised the Australian Microbial Ecology conference (AusME), successfully held in 2017 and 2019, to specifically meet the needs of our members interested in microbes and their environments. We also recently established new interest groups, such as the Bacteriophage Biology and Therapeutics and Eukaryotic Microbes SIGs, because of the growing interest in these areas. We have also successfull...

Dena Lyras     22 November 2019


This issue of Microbiology Australia is a special one that is composed of articles from Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from The Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM). Following an invitation for expressions of interest, ten ECRs were invited by the Editorial Board, to submit full articles. These peer reviewed publications showcase some of the exciting and diverse breaking research underway in microbiology labs of ASM members.

Editorial Board     22 November 2019

The changing epidemiology and challenges of paediatric Clostridium difficile infections

Clostridium difficile (recently also named Clostridioides difficile)1 is an anaerobic spore-forming Gram-positive rod, the leading cause of hospital-acquired diarrhoea in high-income countries and a significant cause of community-acquired diarrhoea2. Since the first isolation of C. difficile as a commensal organism in healthy infants in 19353, this ubiquitous pathogen has led a chequered life as a pathogen of children. Despite high rates ...

Sicilia Perumalsamy and Thomas V Riley     14 November 2019

Cytotoxic factor influencing acquired antimicrobial resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

The Gram-negative opportunistic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is associated with different types of human infections and because of emerging multidrug-resistant strains, these infections are of major global public health concern. Certain strains possess a unique cytotoxic effector protein ExoU, which contributes to the fitness of this organism in different ecological niches and is associated with acquired antibiotic resistance. This article summarises the current knowledge of the exoU gene in P. aeruginosa, including gen...

Dinesh Subedi, Ajay Kumar Vijay, Scott A Rice and Mark Willcox     29 October 2019

Tackling superbugs in their slime castles: innovative approaches against antimicrobial-resistant biofilm infections

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The rise of ‘superbugs' like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus threatens human health on a global scale. Bacteria have established many ways to withstand antimicrobial treatments, evade the immune system and protect them from external stressors. Current medical care frequently fails to eradicate multi-drug resistant bacteria, microbial biofilms and small colony variants that can hide from antibiotic treatments inside human cells, therefore, drug discovery and drug development to improve healthcare is pivotal. In this art...

Katharina Richter     11 November 2019

Enlisting plants in the battle for new antibacterial compounds

A rise in antibacterial drug resistance comes at a time when our once reliable sources of antibacterial natural products, bacteria and fungi, are failing us. The search for new drugs to fight pathogens has led to a range of innovative approaches and includes screening organisms which have developed evolutionary adaptions to prevent bacterial attack. The discovery of antibacterial phytochemicals from plants can be achieved using an activity-guided platform involving biological and chemical pre-screening, compound isolation, structure elucidation...

Dane Lyddiard and Ben W Greatrex     08 November 2019

Corynebacterium and Dolosigranulum: future probiotic candidates for upper respiratory tract infections

The presence of the bacterial genera Corynebacterium and Dolosigranulum has consistently been associated with a healthy upper respiratory tract (URT). Commonly occurring together in the nasopharynx of healthy children, the role of these commensal organisms in nasopharyngeal health is unknown, as few studies have sought to determine whether they actively contribute to maintaining a healthy state. We recently identified Corynebacterium pseudodiphtheriticum and Dolosigranulum pigrum as the major nasopharyngeal species a...

Rachael Lappan and Christopher S Peacock     11 November 2019

Pathogen adaptation to vaccination: the Australian Bordetella pertussis story

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious vaccine preventable respiratory disease caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Despite high level vaccination coverage over the past 20 years, Australia has one of the highest per capita burdens of pertussis globally. One of the primary factors associated with the re-emergence of pertussis is pathogen adaptation of B. pertussis to the current acellular vaccines used. This article will focus on the genomic and proteomic changes that have occurred in the Australi...

Laurence Don Wai Luu     08 November 2019

Profiling bacterial communities in low biomass samples: pitfalls and considerations

Bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing studies are popular across many fields of biology. This technique has allowed us to study bacterial communities like never before, leading to significant insights into microbial ecology and host– microbe interactions. However, 16S rRNA gene-based workflows are vulnerable to confounding and bias at every step. Many studies are plagued by entrenched methodological errors, producing data riddled with experimental artefacts. These issues are amplified in the study of low bacterial biomass samples, such as f...

Lisa F Stinson, Jeffrey A Keelan and Matthew S Payne     14 November 2019

Detecting co-cultivation induced chemical diversity via 2D NMR fingerprints

Rediscovery of already known compounds is a major issue in microbial natural product drug discovery. In recent years, progress has been made in developing more efficient analytical approaches that quickly identify known compounds in a sample to minimise rediscovery. In parallel, whole genome sequencing of microorganisms has revealed their immense potential to produce secondary metabolites, yet the majority of biosynthetic genes remain silent under common laboratory culturing conditions. Therefore, increased research has focused on optimising cu...

Larissa Buedenbender, Anthony R Carroll and D İpek Kurtböke     11 November 2019

Small but mighty: microorganisms offer inspiration for mine remediation and waste stabilisation

Understanding the natural microbiological mechanisms that promote iron cycling in iron ore mine environments may provide novel tools for the remediation of the fragile, iron-rich duricrust ecosystems associated with these environments as well as provide a solution for the stabilisation of hillslopes and tailings (waste) dams. A diverse array of microfossils is frequently identified throughout metre-scale duricrusts (canga; >50 wt.% Fe) that cap iron ore deposits in Brazil, shedding light on the intimate role of microorganisms in the evolution o...

Alan Levett, Emma J Gagen and Gordon Southam     14 November 2019

An updated view on bacterial glycogen structure

Glycogen is a homogenous and multi-disperse polysaccharide that is present in many clinically significant bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholera and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Its structure and metabolism have been linked with environmental viability, intracellular growth, pathogenicity and transmission capacity. However, due to the harsh extraction conditions and also the inconsistent methods for structure characterisation, understanding of bacterial glycogen structure and its association with bacterial metabo...

Liang Wang and Michael J Wise     08 November 2019

Certification scheme for the medical laboratory science profession to become a reality by 1 July 2020

After two years of information gathering, discussion and reflection (and two to three decades of debate), the medical laboratory science profession in Australia will soon have its own national professional certification scheme. Representatives from AIMS, AACB, ASM, HGSA, ASC, ANZSBT, ASCIA, FSA, THANZ, ACS, the RCPA Faculty of Science, and representatives from the histology discipline have all worked together to design a model of medical laboratory science certification for professionals, no matter their chosen discipline.

2020 Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB) and The Australian Institute of Medical Scientists (AIMS)     15 November 2019

Volume 40 Number 4

22 November 2019

Feature Product

Nema and the Xenos

Nema and the Xenos

The tale of a tiny worm, the bacteria that live inside her, and a tree being munched on by a grub.

Feature Product

Guide to Venomous and Medically Important Invertebrates

Guide to Venomous and Medically Important Invertebrates

An illustrated guide to aid identification, provide protection measures and guidance on treatment.

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A fully updated introduction to the biology, ecology and identification of plankton.

The Australian Society of Microbiology

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