Characterizing Microbial Communities

dustMicrobesMicrobial communities are all around us: in our homes, gardens, oceans, even deep underground but their roles in the function of the biosphere are poorly understood. Today Beth spoke with Professor Noah Fierer, at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, who uses DNA to identify microbes in communities ranging from insect microbiomes to Antarctic soils. He has discovered lots of previously unknown bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic critters which are everywhere, eat everything, and perform surprising roles in ecosystems ranging from our guts to Antarctic soils. You can see more at the Fierer Lab website. And check out the New Yorker article on shower heads. With this episode we resume our series on Our Microbes, Ourselves.

Hosts: Beth Bennett & Chip Grandits
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer
: Beth Bennett
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Never Home Alone by Rob Dunn

NeverHomeAloneNever Home Alone (starts at 4:26) In this week’s How on Earth, Beth interviews Professor Rob Dunn. In his recent book, Never Home Alone, he gives a sneak peak into the natural history of the wilderness in our homes, from the microbes in our showers to the crickets in our basements. You can find out more about his book here, find out more about his lab and research at http://robdunnlab.com, and to contribute to their project visit the iNaturalist site.

 

Hosts: Beth Bennett, Gretchen Wettstein
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions: Alejandro Soto, Gretchen Wettstein
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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2016 Retrospective

2016-resetFor this end-of-the-year How on Earth show, we look back to 2016 with clips from some of our features from the past year: selections from the Our Microbes, Ourselves series, research about Zika, gravitational waves, and carbon farming.  Those are just a few of the topics we covered in 2016, which also included: electric cars, electric airplanes, renewable energy, climate change, using the microbiome as indicator of length of time after death, star gazing, pesticides, life on other planets, planets around other stars, stars in other galaxies, eggs, plant diversity, marine animal sex, wildfires, recent science graduates describing their thesis work, PTSD, light pollution, pollinators, lead in water supplies, Alzheimer’s research, the Rosetta mission, the New Horizons mission, missions to Mars – past, present, and future, sleep, cell phones, and more!

Hosts: Joel Parker, Chip Grandits
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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I Contain Multitudes–Our Microbes, Ourselves

Multitudes of Microbes (start time: 3:38): You may find it unsettling to learn that our human cells make up only half of our bodies. The other half is a bunch of microbes (in the neighborhood of 40 trillion), all living and reproducing in, and on, our bodies. What’s more, these invisible machines could have a powerful influence on your brain, and on your overall health. Ed Yong, a staff writer for The Atlantic, found it disconcerting at first to learn this when he researched his book called “I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life.” The book, published earlier this year, explores the mysterious partnerships between humans, and many other species, and the mighty microbes with which we have co-evolved. Today we air the full phone interview that How On Earth host Susan Moran recently had with Yong. We played short clips of the conversation during our fall pledge-drive show last Tuesday. Thanks to you listeners who pledged! And thanks to Yong’s publisher, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins, for donating to KGNU several copies, which some generous members are now reading. This interview continues our series called “Our Microbes, Ourselves.”

Hosts: Kendra Krueger, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Pledge Drive//Interview with Ed Yong

I Contain MultitudesThis week’s pledge- drive show features a teaser introduction to Ed Yong’s new book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. We play segments from the interview that host Susan Moran recently had with Yong, a science writer for The Atlantic. There still may be a copy left, so call now to have your own, with a pledge of at least $60 to KGNU. Call 303.449.4885.
The book explores the role that invisible yet mighty microbes play in our lives, as well as the lives of so many species with whom they have co-evolved. Yong highlights the research of many scientists in this emerging field who are studying how our gut microbiome influences our brain chemistry, and our overall mental and physical health. The book deepens our understanding of the ecosystems within our bodies as well as the ecosystems in the natural world.
Next Tuesday, Nov. 4, we will broadcast the complete interview with Ed Yong.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Beth Bennett, Kendra Kruger
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Additional Contributions: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
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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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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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How On Earth is produced by a small group of volunteers at the studios of KGNU, an independent community radio station in the Boulder-Denver metro area. KGNU is supported by the generosity and efforts of community members like you. Visit kgnu.org to learn more.

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