New papers on microbiology of the built environment, November 8, 2015

Here are the papers on the built environment microbiology that I found in the past weeks. For more microbiology papers, please check out my daily blog MicrobiomeDigest.

Copper surfaces are associated with significantly lower concentrations of bacteria on selected surfaces within a pediatric intensive care unit – Michael G. Schmidt – American Journal of Infection Control (Open Access)

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 11.19.52 PMThe objective of this study was to quantitatively assess the bacterial microbial burden coincident with an assessment of the ability of antimicrobial copper to limit the microbial burden associated with 3 surfaces in a pediatric intensive care unit (…) The log10 reduction to the microbial burden from antimicrobial copper surfaced bed rails was 1.996 (99%). Surprisingly, introduction of copper objects to 8 study rooms was found to suppress the microbial burden recovered from objects assessed in control rooms by log10 of 1.863 (73%).

Copper and temperature modify microbial communities, ammonium and sulfate release in soil – Rui Ferreira – Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science

Copper (Cu) is commonly supplemented to soils as a fungicide in phytosanitary treatments although its consequences to the bacterial communities is frequently overlooked. Herein, we report on the influence of temperature and Cu on the microbial communities, namely those of the Phylum Firmicutes, from a soil collected at an olive orchard in S Portugal. Community fingerprints and band identification through sequencing was combined with measurement of SO equation image and NH equation image production at different supplemented amounts of Cu and at moderate and high temperatures (30°C and 50°C, respectively). Both temperature and Cu induced changes in these communities, selecting for specific bacteria.

Surface reflectance degradation by microbial communities – Meng-Dawn Cheng – Journal of Building Physics (not OA; I cannot get access the PDF, and the abstract is hard to read)

Building envelope, such as a roof, is the interface between a building structure and the environment. Understanding of the physics of microbial interactions with the building envelope is limited. In addition to the natural weathering, microorganisms and airborne particulate matter that attach to a cool roof tend to reduce the roof reflectance over time, compromising the energy efficiency advantages of the reflective coating designs. We applied microbial ecology analysis to identify the natural communities present on the exposed coatings and investigated the reduction kinetics of the surface reflectance upon the introduction of a defined mixture of both photoautotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms representing the natural communities. The findings are (1) reflectance degradation by microbial communities follows a first-order kinetic relationship and (2) more than 50% of degradation from the initial reflectance value can be caused by microbial species alone in much less time than 3 years required by the current standard ENERGY STAR® test methods.

Home dust microbiota is disordered in homes of low-income asthmatic children – Christina E. Ciaccio – Journal of Asthma (not OA)

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 11.36.14 PMThe objective of this study was to characterize the home microbiota of asthmatic children utilizing 16S rRNA-based phylogenetic analysis by microarray. (…) Nineteen homes were included in the analysis (14 asthma and five no asthma). About 1741 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were found in at least one sample. Bacterial genus richness did not differ in the homes of asthmatics and non-asthmatics. The microbial profile was significantly different between the two groups. (…) These results suggest that home dust has a characteristic microbiota which is disturbed in the homes of asthmatics, resulting in a particular abundance of Cyanobacteria and Proteobacteria. Further investigations are needed which utilize high-throughput technology to further clarify how home microbial exposures influence human health and disease.

How was the bacteria at York Hospital found?- Dylan Segelbaum – York Daily Record

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 11.29.56 PMWhen staff members from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived at York Hospital in July to investigate several cases of rare, bacterial infections, they already had a theory of how people had gotten them: Devices used during open-heart surgery to heat and cool the blood. (…) The CDC spent almost three weeks doing research at York Hospital, reviewing thousands of lab records and analyzing samples taken from the devices. “This isn’t an outbreak where we have 50 patients in the last month,” said Joseph Perz, an epidemiologist at the CDC who was in contact each day with the team in York. “This takes a lot more, careful analysis to tease it apart.”

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Elisabeth Bik

After receiving my PhD at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, I worked at the Dutch National Institute for Health and the St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein. In 2001, I joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford, where I have worked on the characterization of the human microbiome in thousands of oral, gastric, and intestinal samples. I currently study the microbiome of marine mammals. When I am not in the lab, I can be found working on my blog Microbiome Digest , an almost daily compilation of scientific papers in the rapidly growing microbiome field, or on Twitter at @MicrobiomDigest.