Archive for the ‘Microbiology’ Category

Show me which bacteria you left behind and I will tell you who you are!

Friday 2 April, 2010

Beware! Don’t leave a bacterial fingerprint behind you in a “crime scene” or elsewhere!

Your skin is more than what you think it is. Even if you don’t leave a “visible” fingerprint on my laptop monitor, on your car windows, or anywhere else, you are leaving millions of bacteria there. What’s new? We all new that our fingers are a wonderful niche where invisible bacteria thrive?
What IS new is that these bacteria are highly diagnostic too. Tell me which bacteria you left behind; I tell you who you are. Thus claims a paper by Noah Fierer and coworkers from Colorado…
Fierer, N., Lauber, C., Zhou, N., McDonald, D., Costello, E., & Knight, R. (2010). Forensic identification using skin bacterial communities Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1000162107


Pigs can’t fly, but their viruses flew!

Monday 27 April, 2009

The common idiom states that pigs cannot fly. I don’t think this statement can be easily debated. However, the swine flu viruses now seem to have flown around the globe quickly (with cases in New Zealand, New York, Canada, California, and of course Mexico). As always, with such things that one cannot easily interpret, both news agencies and conspiracy theorists are always ahead of scientists with a mixture of quasi-scientific, scientifically inaccurate, and entertaining stories (or maybe not).

It is hard with conditions such as the current eventual flu pandemic to get the facts straight. I cannot claim having any additional knowledge, but I would rather read what the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) have to say first:



The parasite of our parasite is our friend?!

Thursday 7 August, 2008

I don’t know how to introduce it!! I have only few minutes to tell you simply that all what we teach you is already old, very old!! All what is published in new textbooks is also old. Even what is in journals is already old! The third millennium’s science is really quick.

In the advance online section of the journal Nature comes the news: viruses are not safe from infection! There is now a “virophage”: a virus that attacks a bigger virus. The first virophage has been named Sputnik (after a prototypic satellite).

the first virophage (Nature)

Meet Sputnik: the first virophage (image from Nature)

(image source)

We were talking about the pathogen’s pathogen, the bacteriophage! Here comes the pathogen’s pathogen’s pathogen!

Read more here and here.

To learn about microbes, think like a microbe!!

Monday 25 February, 2008

Adopt a Microbe! a very interesting blog that artistically represents microbes, makes you think like one of them, then you will definitely know them better.

I think each microbiology student should have his own way of representing a microbe: draw a picture of them, write a song, even a play!

When your job is to discover microbes and give them names…

Saturday 23 February, 2008


Dr. Mostafa Elshahed–a graduate of Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University (FOPCU), Class of 1993–will give a seminar about his research to uncover the hidden soil microbiome. Dr. Elshahed was a demonstrator in the Department of Microibology and Immunology at FOPCU who got his PhD from the University of Oklahoma and is currently an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Elshahed’s work is focused on the discovery of new microbial strain, especially extremophilic bacteria and archaea. It is really an interesting job to isolate microorganisms from the environment; the challenge is that most of these organisms cannot be cultured!

This work raises a lot of interesting questions: How to find new organisms when you cannot culture them? How to know that the microbial DNA you belongs to a new organism? How to analyze complex metagenomic data (with multiple living forms involved in a single habitat)? How to name the new organisms? Can you give them your name (aren’t there bacteria called Pasteurella after Louis Pasteur)? Do you have to study Latin grammar?

Dr. Elshahed has kindly accepted to answer all these questions in an article that he wrote specially to Read the article here

Fall2007 Competition: More Winners at Stage II

Saturday 27 October, 2007

Here are the winners of stage II of the competition:

Group A:

The winners are those (top FIVE) who found the largest number of bacteria where quorum sensing and biofilm formation have been discovered. Any spelling mistake negatively affected the score. Those who listed the references got extra points.

  1. Radwa Raed Sharaf رضوى رائد شرف (second fastest, more than 40 strains + 5 references)
  2. Sarah Atef Amin سارة عاطف أمين (fastest, got 20 strains, but mentioned no references)
  3. Eman Adel إيمان عادل (got 18 strains but 2 spelling mistakes, listed 8 references)
  4. Aya Ali Elhusseiny آية علي الحسيني (got 20 strains, with 7 capitalization errors, listed 9 references
  5. Ahmed Said أحمد سعيد (got 16 strains, no references)
  6. Gehad Mahmoud جهاد محمود علي الصوفاني (got 7 strains)
  7. Mariam Medhat مريم مدحت تكلا (got 8 strains but all the genus names were not capitalized – corrected them in a second email)

Group B:

Question: If the generation time of M. tuberculosis is 15 hours, approximately how long it takes 100 actively dividing cells of this bacterium to form a 3 km-long line? (length of 1 cell is 3 microns)

Answer: 346.5 h (approximately 345 h or

The winners are those the first four who solved the problem:

  1. Mohammed Hassan Ahmed محمد حسن أحمد (Wed 17 Oct, 11:10 AM)
  2. Nada Essam El Din Mohammed Radwan ندا عصام الدين محمد رضوان (Wed 17 Oct, 11:15 AM)
  3. Yasmeen Saad ياسمين سعد (Wed 17 Oct, 2:00 PM)
  4. Nehal Adel Mohamed Fahmy نهال عادل محمد فهمي (Thur 18 Oct, 5:00 PM)
  5. Noha El Shamy نهى الشامي (Fri 19 Oct, 4:00 PM)

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