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Thinking Big About Something Small

Microbiologists like to say that 99 percent of bacteria can't be cultured in a lab, and the saying drives Mike the Mad Biologist "up a wall." The problem, Mike says, is that microbiologists aren't being creative enough when it comes to finding way to grow bacteria. When he was a postdoc, Mike did a simple comparison using standard rich lab medium and a home-brew low nutrient agar to grow some microbes, and found that his special plates had 20 to 40 times as many bugs as the standard plates. These days, one of the side benefits of the Human Microbiome Project is that researchers are getting very creative in their methods to grow human bacteria, as well as waiting longer than would be usual for normal cultures. "These are very cool results, and I hope they put the 99 percent of bacteria are unculturable myth to rest," Mike says. "Seriously, have some pride, fellow microbiologists, and be clever when you isolate."

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.