I just noticed that it was Microbial Week over at Deep-Sea News! How exciting. If I had only known, I would have dressed for the ocassion (wait, we're microbiologists...what does dress for the ocassion even mean?). Perhaps this will provide me with some motivation to write about microorganisms, instead of anything but...
But let me catch you up on the happenings thus far. The week started off with a wonderful introduction by Christina Kellogg (who I need to email and let know that are coral microbiology website is getting off the ground this month - and that we're still very interested in her submitting sequences to our database) - anyway, she starts off with this:
Greek mythology portrays Atlas supporting the world, but the time has come to break it to you, Atlas is a metaphor for the vast unseen majority - the microbes. The few microbes that cause blood to spew from every human orifice get all the press. Most microbes are quietly minding their business and keeping life on this planet functioning. Beer, wine, cheese, bread, Penicillin--these are not just the components of a hot date, but everyday examples of microbiology in action.
I love it! The microbial world is indeed the true Atlas - today in my class, we focused on cycling of nitrogen and phosphorus in the ocean, and lets just say that if these guys weren't out there...cycling...then we wouldn't be here, doing whatever it is that we do. Christina ends her intro post with this:
This is a microbial world and they just let us live here.
Well put! And true. But the week gets even better, with an Ode to the Microbe. And the comment section here cites more tributes to the microbial world...classics, no doubt. But there's more! Christina goes on to talk about one of my favorite subjects these days: microorganisms associated with corals. While we're working with shallow water corals (the lab is sampling again next week off of the southern coast of Puerto Rico) - she writes a bit about deep-sea corals, a very different ecosystem from their shallow counterparts. She also notes the...well, the irresistible microbe - and would total 'get' my christmas list for that special microbiologist in your life. But another post really caught my attention: it was about a deep-sea hydrothermal mussel and the bacteria that have been spotted within the byssal threads that help anchor the organism. Here's part of what they wrote:
Bacteria have been spotted within these threads and may be responsible for the unusually high metal concentrations of iron, copper, and zinc in the byssus, as demonstrated by X-ray microanalysis of the deposits surrounding bacterial cells.
That's quite interesting to me, because a student with my group, just today in fact, was using advanced electron microscopy approaches to look at zinc localization within a microorganism, a Burkholderia strain that we've been studying for some time. We're interested in the microorganism themselves - but we're also interested (or even more so) in the membrane vesicles that are produced in abundance by this strain, that appear to become enriched in zinc...and iron! We're trying to figure out if the membrane vesicles facilitate metal sequestration - and if so, in a positive or negative ways (it's easy to argue either way). Hmmmm. The microbial world is indeed a fascinating place.
And all of this lead me to The Other 95%, who was asked by the organizers of Microbe Week to produce the much needed theme song - O Bacteria. This is hilarious. This is a theme week with momentum, and even myself, a microbiologist who spends her off hours trying to run from her all-consuming work world, has caught the fever! Twisted Bacteria has an interesting contribution, as does Small Things Considered.
I might be motivated to come up with something.
Because a little motivation is always something that one needs. I found out today that a grant was rejected. Rejected with extremely good reviews. No negatives. Just a 'we're sorry, but funds were limited but you wrote a great proposal' kind of review. It was a traineeship proposal, a different kind of proposal than I'm used to writing - but the reality is that I liked it. Alot. I liked what I submitted and wanted it to get funded (which is as it should be). But it didn't. I'm in that 24 hours-post grant rejection period, with a glass of wine in hand, pondering this whole scientific life.
But the reality, the true bottomline, is that I think the microbial world is a fascinating place.
So tomorrow I'll take a look over at Deep-Sea News and see how day four of Microbial Week is progressing...and I'll start working on the next grant submission. It's what I do.