In early 2016, the American Society of Microbiology is launching two new journals, mSphere™and mSystems™. Like their predecessor, mBio®, the journals will be open-access, online-only, with rolling publications posted online weekly prior to consolidation into each issue.
This week, the first mSphere™articles were posted online. Editor-in-chief Michael Imperiale wrote an introductory editorial emphasizing the goals of this new journal: publication of high-quality science with maximum speed and author satisfaction. He also gives praise to the amazing editorial and publishing staff, citing the late, great Bo Schembechler – an apt source, given that all three current publications have a University of Michigan connection.
New genes, new targets in bloodstream infections
One of the two research papers, from the lab of Dr. Harry Mobley, looks into which Acinetobacter baumannii genes are required for bloodstream infection. First author Dr. Sargurunathan Subashcharadrabose used transposon mutagenesis and competition assays to identify bacterial genes needed for bloodstream infection in mice. Their results found that a number of genes involved in iron acquisition or complement resistance play a role in growth in blood and serum, presenting potential new drug targets for treating Acinetobacter septicemia.
New drug targets are necessary as A. baumannii infections are a growing clinical concern. The number of nosocomial infections caused by this bacterium is on the rise, increasing hospital stays and endangering already-vulnerable patients. Not only is the bacterium a potent pathogen, especially in immunocompromised hosts, but the bug can also harbor multiple drug resistance cassettes, making these infections difficult to treat. Identifying the bacterial processes required for growth is the first step toward generating treatments against this microbe.
Gut microbiome makeup influences tumorigenesis
The other research paper, from Pat Schloss’ lab, focuses on the role of the gut microbiome in colon cancer formation. Here, first author Dr. Joseph Zackular builds on his previous research investigating the role of gut microbiota in tumor formation. He tested this by using antibiotics to alter the gut flora and found that altering the gut flora also altered the final numbers of tumors in a mouse model of inflammation-induced colon cancer. The group was then able to generate a model predicting the tumor count based on the bacterial OTUs present in the colon.
This model adds a level of complexity to previous studies that have made associations between colon cancer and single bacterial species or genera. It also suggests that colorectal cancer treatment might be aided with diet or other ways of manipulating the intestinal microbiome. While the colon cancer can be successfully treated when found early, it remains the second-leading cause of cancer in the U.S. One of every 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer, so the more mechanisms we have to decrease its associated mortality, the better.
mSphere™ reviews: no Experimentitis Infinitum
The reviews of mSphere™ reviews have so far been positive. (Does that make this a review of the reviews of the reviews? – how meta.) Michael Imperiale posted a photo that encompasses the spirit of the journal:
Others have also advertised their satisfaction with the review process. As the author of the first mSphere™ research article, Pat Schloss has also written an essay discussing his decision to publish with the new journal. But you don’t have to take my word for it! Have you submitted to mSphere™? Read these newly released research articles? Have a thought about open access journals or online publications? Leave a comment to start the discussion below!
-- Julie Wolf