TS Picks: April 1, 2015

Microbial ecology of fermented foods; NASA twin study; new cleaning protocols for superbug-associated scope

Tracy Vence
Apr 1, 2015


Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • Microbiologists Rachel Dutton of Harvard and Benjamin Wolfe of Tufts are studying fermented foods to understand the formation and maintenance of microbial communities. “Fermented foods can be valuable models for processes in less tractable microbiota,” Dutton and Wolfe wrote in a Cell review published last week (March 26).
  • If sensitive results emerge when NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has his genome sequenced after spending a year at the International Space Station, the findings may never be published, Nature reported last week (March 26). Researchers will be studying Kelly and his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, to deduce differences between the siblings that “could reveal how the body copes with extreme environments,” according to Nature. “We’re not really comparing Mark and Scott so much as, the changes between Mark and Scott will be environmentally influenced, and let’s follow that in the two of them,” neurobiologist Fred Turek of Northwestern told Nature.
  • In an effort to cut down on the risk of superbug infections tied to a medical device used in hospitals, Olympus America has issued new protocols for cleaning duodenoscopes, which have been implicated in several recent outbreaks, The Washington Post reported.
  • Syracuse University’s endowment is now the largest to divest entirely of fossil fuel stocks, The New York Times reported. “Syracuse has a long record of supporting responsible environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship, and we want to continue that record,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement. “Formalizing our commitment to not invest directly in fossil fuels is one more way we do that.”