"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." - Friedrick Nietzsche

Atheist, scientist, secular Buddhist, rat lover, etc.

Originally from Iowa,I am a biology graduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Reblogged from laboratoryequipment  151 notes
laboratoryequipment:

Citizen Scientists Can Help Find Drugs in DirtMicrobes are not only a rich source of disease, but also a rich source of medicines, and experts think many life-saving compounds produced by as-yet-unnamed bacteria are awaiting discovery. But they don’t always give up their secrets easily. Researchers must know where to look to find promising bacteria, and how to get them to grow in the lab, the traditional route to identifying potentially valuable molecules they produce.Researchers in Sean Brady’s Laboratory of Genetically Encoded Small Molecules at Rockefeller Univ. are working on a way around these roadblocks. By using genomic sequencing technology, they can investigate the organisms that live in habitats like soil without having to grow the microbes in the lab. They are using this information to map out the location of gene clusters they believe may encode novel antibiotics, and, with help from citizen scientists around the country, they are hoping to process soil samples from areas they would never be able to visit on their own.Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/citizen-scientists-can-help-find-drugs-dirt

Oh hey, the organisms of interest here belong to the group of bacteria I work with called the Streptomyces.  These guys are responsible for producing some 2/3 of antibiotics currently used in human and veterinary medicine.  If you are wanting to collect some samples, here are a few thing to keep in mind:
 When selecting a sampling location, try to make it one with very limited human impact (ie don’t select an area where there is visible or potential human waste - this can mean either garbage or the other kind).  This will reduce the chances of sending in samples with possible pathogens.
If possible, try to put your sample in a sterile container.  When I take environmental samples, I use tubes like the ones below, though not everyone will have these just lying around.  If you don’t have something that is certified sterile and DNase-free, you can sterilize a plastic or glass tube/vial/etc. with some isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) or ethanol. 
Try to keep the temperature or your samples constant as DNA can degrade if it gets too hot, etc., and if the researchers want to attempt to isolate organisms from your sample later on the bacteria needs to be viable.  You can store them in a cooler or styrofoam container at room temperature for a few days, or better yet, store them in your refrigerator (you can put your sample tubes in a ziplock baggy if you are worried about cross contamination). 
Label your samples and keep a record! This is probably the most important thing in all honesty but I was too lazy to go back and put it as #1, so hopefully you’ve read this far!  The sample should be labeled with the date and location (if you have GPS coordinates, that would be really good).  Also keep  written or electronic notes of where and when your sample was collected, as well as any additional information that would be useful - what type of soil it was, what sort of vegetation was around, etc.  It is also a good idea to snap a photo of the location and, if you have multiple samples, have some sort of id system in place to know which sample came from what site.  
Unless you are a trained microbiologist working in an appropriate facility, you should never try to isolate organisms from your samples on your own.  You have no idea what organisms could be in it.  It is possible that your samples could contain pathogens or opportunistic pathogens (which is why it is important to sample away from areas of heavy human or other animal activity - don’t take a sample from right next to a pile of moose droppings!)
Now, go forth and science!

laboratoryequipment:

Citizen Scientists Can Help Find Drugs in Dirt

Microbes are not only a rich source of disease, but also a rich source of medicines, and experts think many life-saving compounds produced by as-yet-unnamed bacteria are awaiting discovery. But they don’t always give up their secrets easily. Researchers must know where to look to find promising bacteria, and how to get them to grow in the lab, the traditional route to identifying potentially valuable molecules they produce.

Researchers in Sean Brady’s Laboratory of Genetically Encoded Small Molecules at Rockefeller Univ. are working on a way around these roadblocks. By using genomic sequencing technology, they can investigate the organisms that live in habitats like soil without having to grow the microbes in the lab. They are using this information to map out the location of gene clusters they believe may encode novel antibiotics, and, with help from citizen scientists around the country, they are hoping to process soil samples from areas they would never be able to visit on their own.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/citizen-scientists-can-help-find-drugs-dirt

Oh hey, the organisms of interest here belong to the group of bacteria I work with called the Streptomyces.  These guys are responsible for producing some 2/3 of antibiotics currently used in human and veterinary medicine.  If you are wanting to collect some samples, here are a few thing to keep in mind:

  1.  When selecting a sampling location, try to make it one with very limited human impact (ie don’t select an area where there is visible or potential human waste - this can mean either garbage or the other kind).  This will reduce the chances of sending in samples with possible pathogens.
  2. If possible, try to put your sample in a sterile container.  When I take environmental samples, I use tubes like the ones below, though not everyone will have these just lying around.  If you don’t have something that is certified sterile and DNase-free, you can sterilize a plastic or glass tube/vial/etc. with some isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) or ethanol. 
  3. Try to keep the temperature or your samples constant as DNA can degrade if it gets too hot, etc., and if the researchers want to attempt to isolate organisms from your sample later on the bacteria needs to be viable.  You can store them in a cooler or styrofoam container at room temperature for a few days, or better yet, store them in your refrigerator (you can put your sample tubes in a ziplock baggy if you are worried about cross contamination). 
  4. Label your samples and keep a record! This is probably the most important thing in all honesty but I was too lazy to go back and put it as #1, so hopefully you’ve read this far!  The sample should be labeled with the date and location (if you have GPS coordinates, that would be really good).  Also keep  written or electronic notes of where and when your sample was collected, as well as any additional information that would be useful - what type of soil it was, what sort of vegetation was around, etc.  It is also a good idea to snap a photo of the location and, if you have multiple samples, have some sort of id system in place to know which sample came from what site.  
  5. Unless you are a trained microbiologist working in an appropriate facility, you should never try to isolate organisms from your samples on your own.  You have no idea what organisms could be in it.  It is possible that your samples could contain pathogens or opportunistic pathogens (which is why it is important to sample away from areas of heavy human or other animal activity - don’t take a sample from right next to a pile of moose droppings!)

Now, go forth and science!

Does anyone else get irrationally angry when people use “bacteria” and “virus” interchangeably?

Like, seriously.  Humans are more closely related to either of these than they are to each other.  

And while I’m at it: you can’t take antibiotics for a fucking cold or a flu because, surprise, these illnesses are caused by viral infections and antibiotics only work on bacteria.  You know, because viruses don’t have cell walls or ribosomes or really any of the necessary cellular components that antibiotics disrupt (because viruses aren’t even cells).  

Yes, there are antiviral drugs (and antifungal drugs) but neither of these things can be called an antibiotic, as that term is generally reserved for drugs that act against bacteria.