August issue of Microbiology Today out now
08 August 2017
Archaea are not as well known as other microbes, but are diverse and thrive in conditions that most life can't endure. Untroubled by searing temperatures or extremes of pH and pressure, archaea can be found in the depths of the ocean and the insides of volcanoes. However, little is known about these organisms and they could have properties, both good and bad, that research has yet to identify. In this issue we explore what we do know about these fascinating organisms and what research may yet discover.
Graeme Nicol opens the issue describing the role of archaea in one of the central processes of life on Earth, the nitrogen cycle. He explains how archaea could play a pivotal role in helping support our soils after decades of fertiliser use, which has disrupted the natural nitrate levels and affected localised ecosystem nitrogen cycles. Next, Marta Filipa Simões and André Antunes give insight into how archaea are helping process wastewater to manage and protect our environment.
Daniela Barillà takes us to the infernal, unforgiving 'burning fields' of Italy where Sulfolobus solfataricus survive at 80 °C. She tells us how research on the genome of thermophilic archaea could be key to all life on Earth. Laura Eme and Thijs Ettema provide some historical context on archaea and how they evolved, exploring the different theories on endosymbiosis and fusion, and consider how research from the bottom of the sea could provide the answer.
Qunxin She and Wenyuan Han draw our attention to archaeal CRISPR systems, discussing the Cas accessory proteins and their role in this complex system. To date, no pathogenic species of archaea have been discovered. In the Comment piece James Chong questions why this is, he highlights the hazards of working with archaea in the lab and the potential hidden dark side of these microbes that may yet be revealed.
You can also find out more about the new online Member Directory in this edition, along with updates on Society events, journals, outreach activities and the ECM Forum, and the work of our members in the Q&A and Schoolzone articles. There is also information on the UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations resources available from Public Heath England.View the latest issue now.