In browsing the comment fields of my blog entries, I came across a comment by Rhea, blogger of The Apprenticing Lab Rat that got me thinking.
What are my favorite microbes?
So, I put my thinking cap on, and came up with the following list of my ...
Top Ten Favorite Microbes.
10. Nitrosomonas eutropha - I suppose you could put N. europaea here in this spot as well, they're very closely related. They make up one lineage of the Nitrosomonas genus, which happens to be the lineage you're most likely to find growing in wastewater treatment plants. This genus is also one of two major players (along with Nitrosococcus) in the first phase of ammonia oxidation, which sees the conversion of ammonia to nitrite, a necessary step in the Nitrogen Cycle.
9. Yersinia pestis - Any bug which can pretty much singlehandedly be responsible for what people would forever refer to as the "Black Death" gets my attention and respect.
8. Comamonas badia - Not an organism most people are going to have heard about, though I've blogged about it before. Nothing particularly exciting about this organism other than the fact that it forms flocs. Flocs are useful for wastewater treatment systems as it provides a matrix for organisms to grow on ... call them floating biofilms. If the flocs are of the right composition, they will settle out rapidly, a feature necessary for producing a quality effluent. It's on my list because in some of our genetic characterization studies, we've seen a relative of this organism but have yet to isolate it. I like challenges!
7. Escherichia coli - Come on, Who doesn't like E. coli? Of course, for the purposes of this question, we're excluding those individuals who are currently tied up with a bout of the Aztec two-step. For any gene jockey E. coli is an essential tool for cloning purposes. Heck, I even used E. coli for triparental matings way back when.
6. Legionella - How many organisms do you know that can spread through an air-conditioning system? I know of one in particular, and this one is it.
5. Pseudomonas aeruginosa - As a clinical microbiologist, P. aeruginosa is one of those organisms that is very easy to identify. If it smells like Welch's grape juice, it's P. aeruginosa. That, and it fluoresces. It does have this nasty habit of being very harmful to burn victims though. The damn bug grows just about everywhere, and is a friggin pain in the posterior to eradicate from a system once it takes root.
4. Borrelia burgdorferi - Say that fives times real fast. I've never had Lyme disease, and I never want to either. Spirochetes look cool too.
3. Vibrio cholerae - Two words for you: rice-water stool. Some things/phrases stick with you forever, and those two words are one such phrase I will never forget. I've also always been fascinated with quorum sensing, and this organism along with other Vibrio species, has seen the lion share of such research. V. cholerae was also responsible for helping Robert Koch refine his postulates, as well as bringing about the birth of epidemiology (see John Snow).
2. Neisseria gonorrhoeae - Spent more time working on this organism than any other. It's an exquisite organism, being an obligate human pathogen it has no vector and must rely on one of the few activities that most humans have a proclivity for -- sex -- for transmission. There is a documented case of fomite transmission as well.I crack up everytime I see that. The actual letter ... is a bit disgusting when you read it.
1. Deinococcus radiodurans - The coolest of the cool. Any organism that can take dosages of radiation that would kill a human a couple hundred thousand times over is neat! Not that this organism evolved after Chernobyl. Instead, this "super power" is most likely the result of surviving dessicated environments. That is why this xerophile (arid condition surviving organism) is at the top of my list! All extremophiles rock by the way!
So, what are some of the favorites of everyone else? Hmmm, should I make this a meme?