Our Microbes, Ourselves: Soil Bacteria Treat Stress Disorders

Photo credit: Susan Moran

Photo credit: Susan Moran

Microbes and Stress Resilience (starts 5:13) If you’re worried that some dirt still clings to your skin under your fingernails after planting or weeding in the garden, fear not. In fact, the more you feel and even breathe its fumes, the better, research suggests. As part of our series called “Our Microbes, Ourselves,” we explore today a newly published study that adds to a growing body of research into the benefits of certain soil and gut microbes on our mental and physical health. Dr. Christopher Lowry, an associate professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, discusses with host Susan Moran the study, which he led. It shows that a common soil bacterium called M. vaccae can boost the immune system to help fight stress and inflammation. The research, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted on mice, but the health implications for humans are far-reaching.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Using the Microbiome to Determine Time of Death

MicrobiomeUsing the Microbiome to Determine Time of Death (starts at 5:40): This week on How on Earth, we speak with Jessica Metcalf, an evolutionary biologist, who studies bacteria, specifically the microbiome. One of her research interests is using molecular biology to address basic hypotheses about the role of microbes in corpse decomposition. The time since death, or postmortem interval, also known as (PMI), is important for criminal investigations because it can lead to the identification of the deceased and validate alibis. PMI is critical to both forensic science and pop culture (e.g. TV shows Bones, CSI). Recently she co-authored a paper published in Science, describing how various species of the microbiome can be used to accurately and repeatedly determine the post-mortem interval.

Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Our Microbes, Ourselves — Special Call-in Show

human gut microbes

human gut microbes

Our Microbes, Ourselves, Dec. 31, 2015: Roughly one hundred trillion bacteria are living, and gorging, in our gut–all the more so during the indulgent holidays. Microbes influence our health and well-being, by affecting our gut directly, as well as the crops we eat and the soils in which we grow crops. These microbial communities  – called the gut microbiome — have been linked to many disorders, including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, and even mental illness. We are just at the dawn of a new era of microbial treatments for many illnesses. After a recent How On Earth show generated so much interest, we decided to bring our guest, Amy Sheflin, back for an hour-long call-in show on A Public Affair on KGNU. Amy is a doctoral student at Colorado State University in food science and human nutrition. She studies how the food we eat alters the microbial communities in our gut, and how those microbes in our bodies influence our overall health. For more info on the gut microbiome, check out Amy’s favorite books on the topic: The Good Gut, by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg; and The Inside Tract, by Gerard Mullins. Also check out the American Gut Project.

Host: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran

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Mighty Microbes in Our Gut & Soils

Amy_Flask

Amy Sheflin Photo credit: Carolyn Hoagland

Mighty Microbes (start time: 5:45): Microbes – fungi and bacteria and probably viruses — are essential to life on Earth. They’re found in soil and water and inside the human gut. There’s a lot happening these days in microbiology, as scientists try to better understand what role these invisible powerhouses play in our health and that of the planet. Amy Sheflin, a PhD candidate at Colorado State University in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, speaks with host Susan Moran about her and others’ research into how microbial communities an enhance the health of our human gut, soils and crops.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Rosetta // Autism & the Microbiome

Caltech Scientist Sarkis Mazmanian

Caltech Scientist Sarkis Mazmanian

We talk with Joel Parker about his Denver Science Museum presentation.  Joel is a project leader for one of the scientific instruments on board the Rosetta space mission.  We also discuss new findings about how improving the health of the human digestive tract, with the use of beneficial microbes, might improve mood disorders, including reducing the anxiety that’s common with autism.

Producer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Rosetta Wakes Up // Jelly Sandwich Earth // Hospital Acquired Infections // Microbes Reduce Autism in Mice

Outsourcing Pollution (01:08) What’s sent to China comes back to the good old U S of A.

Arctic Frontiers (02:03) How on Earth’s  Susan Moran flies to Norway Conference

RosettaWake Up, Rosetta!   (3:00) As project manager for the Rosetta Alice UV Spectrometer, How on Earth’s  Joel Parker shares tense moments, waiting for  Rosetta to wake up.

PB&JSandwichJelly Sandwich Earth  (5:40) CU-Boulder’s Peter Molnar wins the world’s most prestigious prize for Geoscience -He speaks with How on Earth’s Jim Pullen

healthcare-associated-infectionsHospital Acquired Infections (8:00)   When Americans go to the hospital, they don’t expect to leave with a brand new illness.  But one out of every 20  receives a hidden time bomb during these visits — it’s a healthcare associated infection.   How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender visits Longmont United Hospital to see how ICU staff reduce infection risks.   If you want to compare how your hospital or clinic compares with the nation, and other Colorado hospitals, when it comes to infections, here are Colorado’s Latest Infection Rate Reports 

Brain4-1Gut Microbe Reverses Autism in Mice (15:22) A recent study  and a commentary in Cell indicate that feeding mice a beneficial bacteria  reduces their autistic symptoms.  CU Biofrontiers Institute scientists Dorota Porazinska and Sophie Weiss discuss the implications with Shelley Schlender.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Jim Pullen
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Ted Burnham, Kendra Krueger, Susan Moran, Jane Palmer,  Joel Parker

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Fecal Microbial Transplant for C. Diff Colitis

We bring you two recent science releases involving Colorado scientists.  One features bumblebees and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.  The second looks at new tick-born disease from Missouri that was tracked down by Harry Savage, CDC Fort Collins.

We also share a story about an unusual medical treatment that is saving people from a devastating gut infection called recurrent C-Diff Colitis.  The treatment that cures this condition the most effectively is a fecal microbial transplant.  Giving perspectives about the “cure” are CU Health Sciences Gastroenterologist Steve Freeman, and CSU Veterinary Scientist, Rob Callan.  As for the treatment, this spring, the FDA put up hurdles so it was harder for doctors to do fecal transplants.  So much outcry arose, this summer, the FDA lifted the ban.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Gut Microbes and Autoimmune Disease // What’s in YOUR Gut? The American Gut Project

 

Headlines:

  1. New CU Studies on GroundLevel Ozone, with NOAA’s Sam Oltmans, CU researcher Daven Henze and NASA’s Kevin Bowman
  2. Good Cholesterol, Bad Cholesterol and “Ugly” Cholesterol
  3. Tonight’s Denver Cafe Sci features Tad Pfeffer:  Getting sea level predictions right

Features:

We look at a new study where researchers, led by Jayne Danska transferred gut microbes from male mice to young female mouse pups, and in the process, raised the testosterone level in the female mice and protected them from getting Type 1 Diabetes.  Danska’s research team includes Daniel Frank   at University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, and Chuck Robertson at CU Boulder.

And we look at a new kind of science, offered in The American Gut project, featuring CU scientist Rob Knight.

Hosts: Joel Parker and Jim Pullen
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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The American Gut – What’s in YOUR Gut?

humanfoodproject.com/american-gut/

from humanfoodproject.com/american-gut/

We share three new findings that include contributions from Colorado scientists:  1.  Diane McKnight coauthors study about Bacteria that thrive in a frigid hell-hole – the pitch-dark, super-salty, poisonous Lake Vida in Antarctica, 2.  William Colgan offers new ways to calculate a glacier’s melting rates, 3.  Alicia Karspeck offers a new weather forecast – Cloudy with a Chance of Flu?

(6:00) Then we talk with Jeff Leach, founder of the Human Food Project, which has teamed up with CU researchers who include Rob Knight to create a crowd-sourced, crowd-funded way to learn more about the microbes that live in us and on us.  The new project is called The American Gut.  The deadline to sign up is January 7th.

Hosts: Jim Pullen and Tom McKinnon
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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We Breathe Microbes with Noah Fierer

Noah Fierer

We explore the world microbes, and how they’re everywhere, and how the University of Colorado at Boulder has scientists such as Noah Fierer who are trying to track all those microbes down and figure out which ones help us and which ones don’t, and how they interact.  These scientists have studied the microbes on a human hand, the microbes in the air from dog feces, and they’re lastest project is known as Miasma.  That stands for Mapping and Integrated Analysis of Microbes in the Atmosphere.

Hosts: Ted Burnham and Breanna Draxler

Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Headlines: Tom Yulsman
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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