Microbiology Today is the Microbiology Society's quarterly magazine. Aimed at both the specialist and the general reader, the magazine has a colourful and stylish layout with a lively range of features and articles, which proves a valuable resource for anyone wishing to know more about current issues and research in microbiology. The content is carefully balanced to meet the needs of the Society’s members and the magazine aims to provide informative and enjoyable broad-interest articles for all stakeholders, including parliamentarians and policy-makers.
Within Microbiology Today, we have a dedicated education section called Schoolzone, which features previews of new school resources, recommended microbiology practical experiments and articles written by leading experts.
In recent history, diseases have spread across the globe and had drastic effects on human and animal populations’ health. Before colonisation and the arrival of European settlers to countries across the world, indigenous people were only exposed to certain diseases that were present in their own country. The arrival of settlers meant the introduction of new pathogens that the indigenous people did not have natural immunities to.
Bioinformatics is the method of using computer programming to interpret biological data. The teaching of bioinformatics in schools is becoming an integral part of the curriculum and understanding the evolutionary relationships between species at the genomic level is an important skill. However, the basic process of how these relationships are determined is fundamental in understanding all of these relationships.
The activities in this issue demonstrate how the evolutionary history of different strains of a virus or other micro-organism can be determined by using both modern (computer) and historical (observation) methods.
Concepts around when life evolved, and how life is formed, can be complex for students to understand. These examples of practical activities can be done with students to demonstrate how long microbes have been in existence, and also show how cells assemble, giving both large-scale and small-scale demonstrations of where life comes from.
Ten years ago, Moore et al. (2005) concluded that the most likely answer to the question “how much are your children taught about fungi in schools?” was “very little or nothing at all”. They remarked that the word ‘fungus’ did not appear in the then current National Curriculum for England Programme of Study for Science, and although fungi tended to be treated reasonably in the specifications for the GCSE Biology examinations, the references were largely along with bacteria as decomposers without reference to the basic distinction between the two groups.
Zoonoses are a fascinating topic for school students; the spread of diseases that can pass between animals and humans holds a gruesome appeal. But how can we teach about zoonoses in schools in an engaging way, when, for obvious reasons, we cannot carry out wet laboratory experiments using any of these pathogens? In this article we explore student activities covering various aspects of the subject, including emerging zoonotic diseases, biosecurity and the spread of infection.
Light can have a dramatic effect on the growth and activity of microbes, through both direct and indirect influences. In this edition of Schoolzone, we suggest three ways in which the influence of light on the growth and activity of microbes can be investigated.
On European Antibiotic Awareness Day, 18 November 2014, we launched the Small World Initiative, giving the general public, students and educators in the UK and Ireland the opportunity to work with scientists as part of a global initiative to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria.
One of the many grants the Society offers is the Microbiology in Schools Fund. Launched in 2014, the grant offers school members up to £1,000 for any microbiology-based activity for their pupils. The scope is very broad, anything related to microbiology is considered. So with this much choice, how do you choose what to do?
Centuries ago, in a time of myths of dragons and gods, seafarers and beach dwellers were baffled by the flashes of light and glowing lights seen in oceans all over the world. Today, we now know this is caused by bioluminescence, a chemical emission of light seen across the tree of life, in fish, invertebrates, annelids, arthroprods and, most interestingly for us, micro-organisms.
Worldwide, infectious diseases are the leading cause of death of children and adolescents, and one of the leading causes in adults. Three of the top ten causes of death (2012 data) are from infectious diseases: lower respiratory infections (3.1 million), HIV/AIDS (1.5 million) and diarrhoeal diseases (1.5 million).