By Carole Gan
UC Davis microbiologists have analyzed swabs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station – and found pretty much the same types of microbes as in a home on Earth, according to an analysis published today (Dec. 5) in the journal PeerJ.
The International Space Station is interesting to scientists studying the microbial ecology of buildings because it is a “building” with very few ways to bring microbes in or out.
Citizen science and Project MERCURRI
The work was part of Project MERCCURI, a collaboration between UC Davis and other organizations including Science Cheerleader, a group of current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing careers in science and math.
By Lisa Howard
Soil Actually Has a Microbiome
Gut bacteria have been getting a lot of attention lately (yogurt, anyone?) but it turns out the soil in your own back yard is teeming with microbial life. According to Kate Scow, a professor of soil science and microbial ecology at UC Davis, a quarter teaspoon of soil can easily contain a billion bacterial cells. And she estimates there can be 10,000 to 50,000 different taxa of microbes in a single teaspoon. Soil is one of the most complex and diverse ecosystems on the planet, and it is one that is essential for human life through all the functions it provides: the breakdown of organic materials, food production, water purification, greenhouse gas reduction, and pollution cleanup, just to name a few.
Probiotics, those living bacteria and yeasts that offer a variety of health benefits, especially for the digestive system, are now available to consumers in yogurt and a variety of other food products as well as in nonfood supplements. But little is known about how the products containing those probiotics might influence their effectiveness.
Could it really be important whether you consume a probiotic in yogurt or other fermented foods and beverages rather than in a supplement? And is there something about dairy products that makes them particularly well suited for probiotics?