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a culture of service…

June, 2018


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The Bubonic Plague Genome Project
The Black Plague…
Older than once thought
To this day, uttering the words “bubonic plague” still sends a tremble down the spines of all who hear it. Over just a four year period starting in the year 1347, the infection took the lives of tens of millions of people during what is now coined the “Black Death.” While notable pandemics date back as far as 541 AD (The Justinian Plague of Rome), the recent uncovering of an ancient burial site has shown that the infamous causative agent of the plague, Yersinia pestis, at its full transmission potential dates back about 1,000 years earlier than originally thought.
The plague is categorized into three types or forms: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. Each type is dependent upon the region of the body that is afflicted. The more prevalent bubonic-type is characterized by the formation of swollen lymph nodes (or buboes) in the groin, neck, and/or axillary regions. Though neutrophils are capable of killing the bacteria, human macrophages are not. The bacteria are engulfed by the macrophages but are resistant to phagocytosis and flourish within the vacuoles. These macrophages are then carried through the lymphatic system until they ultimately lyse due to their bacterial load, thereby releasing the bacteria into the lymph nodes. When left untreated, bubonic plague may spread to the lungs, known as pneumonic plague, or to the blood, known as septicemic plague.


Double burial of two plague victims in Russia dated at 3,800 years ago.  Analysis of the Yersinia pestis genomes found therein suggests a Bronze Age origin for bubonic plague.


A recent genomic analysis of a strain of Y. pestis recovered from the 3,800 year old remains of two individuals in Russia suggests that the bubonic plague actually originated in the early Bronze Age. The study, conducted by The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, began with nine individuals found at the same burial site in today’s Samara region of Russia. Of these nine, two were confirmed to have been infected with the same strain of Y. pestis at the time of death. Most importantly, the strain was found to contain all the genetic components necessary for transmission of infection to humans, specifically transmission via fleas.
Yersinia pestis is related to the enteric pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis but is set apart by its enhanced transmission via flea vector and inability to colonize the gastrointestinal tract. Scientists have speculated that genetic mutations incurred during horizontal gene transfer (transposition mutations) may have led to the destruction of the microorganism’s ability to colonize the gut and its evolution into a new species, Y. pestis.
The dawn of the Bronze Age brought with it new trade routes and greater accessibility, which created the perfect storm for the spreading of this mutated Yersinia microorganism, thus leading the way for the Black Death that ultimately wiped out 30 to 60% of of Europe’s population, taking over 200 years to recover to its previous numbers.
By Sara Hylton
Technical Services Department
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Jay Walk
The term Jay Walk comes from the fact that “Jay” used to be a generic term for someone who was an idiot, dull, rube, unsophisticated, or simpleton.  More precisely, it was once a common term for “country bumpkins” or “hicks,” usually seen incorrectly as inherently stupid by “city” folk.
While Jay Walking is associated with pedestrians making illegal crossings today, the earliest references to “jay” behavior in the street were about horse-drawn carriages and automobiles.  The first references were in 1905 in Kansas, where “jay drivers” did not drive on the correct side of the street.
The term swiftly expanded to pedestrians by 1909, and the word was promoted by pro-automobile interests in the 1920s.
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Think about it…
The Thinker


  • Many animals probably need glasses, but nobody knows it.


  • Your future self is watching you right now through memories.
  • If you rip a hole in a net, there are actually fewer holes in it than there were before.
  • Despite the high cost of living, it still remains popular.
  • Humans actually have two lives. The second life starts on the day you understand that you only have one.

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Wisdom to Ponder…
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 ~ 1857


American essayist, lecturerphilosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a discerning critic of the countervailing pressures of society.






“What lies behind you and what lies in front of youpales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”

“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.”

“Hitch your wagon to a star.”
“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”






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Did you know? 
Hardy Diagnostics…
  • Is celebrating its 38th year of serving microbiologists.
  • Manufactures from two ISO certified factories; one in California and one in Ohio.
  • Is ISO 13485 certified for the manufacture of medical devices to give you confidence in our products.
  • Services over 10,000 labs and maintains a worldwide network of over 80 distributors.
  • Is a 100% Employee-Owned company. “If we act like we own the place…it’s because we do!”

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“As Hardy Diagnostics enters its 38th year of serving microbiologists in the laboratory, I would like to thank each of our customers for their support and loyalty. It truly has been a pleasure to serve you!
If there is any way we can improve or expand upon our service, would you please let me know?”
Jay Hardy, CLS, SM(NRCM)


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The Concrete Microbiome
Microbial communities may predict 
the integrity of concrete
Actinobacteria, one of the types of bacteria found in and on concrete.


As many may know, the gut microbiome has been a hot topic in microbiology in recent years. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has launched a Human Microbiome Project to better characterize them using metagenomics technologies.  While we may have heard of the human microbiome or gut microbiome, another type of microbiome that is now being studied has materials engineering implications. It is the concrete microbiome. Yes, you read that right!  – Concrete microbiome as in the concrete commonly used as a building material.
It has been recently discovered that concrete is actually home to a fascinating microbial community. Dr. Julie Maresca, an associate professor in the College of Engineering at University of Delaware, is a pioneer in this area of research. Recently, Dr. Maresca discussed the role of concrete microbiome in the June 2018 American Society of Microbiology (ASM) microTalk podcast titled “Content in Cement.”
In this microTalk podcast, Dr. Maresca explains how the environment created by concrete is a unique place for microorganisms to thrive as it has a very hard, dry, salty, and high pH environment with an abundance of cations such as magnesium, calcium, aluminum, and silica. When concrete is freshly poured, the pH is around 12.5, which is about the same pH of bleach. As we know, bleach has bactericidal properties. Nonetheless, even with this incredibly harsh and non-nutritious environment, there are over 100 species of bacteria that thrive in and on concrete. Some of these bacteria are alive and culturable in a laboratory setting, while most others are dormant. Through DNA extraction directly from concrete, it has been discovered that the bacteria that dominate these concrete microbial communities are usually Actinobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria, which are well adapted to dry, salty, alkaline environments.
Dr. Maresca’s research involves making test cylinders of concrete that are left in the external environment to be exposed to normal weather conditions and investigating these cylinders for changes in microbial communities.


Concrete cylinders placed on the roof of Dr. Maresca’s research laboratory to study the effects of weathering
on the concrete microbiome.


It was found that the same microbial communities growing on concrete are able to grow within concrete as well and may be at least partly responsible for the degradation of concrete. Furthermore, Dr. Maresca’s research suggests that the microbiome fluctuates as concrete degrades, especially in concrete that is susceptible to the alkali-silica reaction, also known as ASR, which is colloquially termed “concrete cancer.” It is associated with symptoms that include swelling and often occurs when concrete has been exposed to frequent moisture. Concrete cancer or ASR appears as a cracked-like appearance.
Physical appearance of “concrete cancer,” or ASR, demonstrated by the cracked pattern.


 This research will allow for further insight into the identification of bioindicators that suggest concrete weakness before the damage becomes apparent. If we can use the fluctuating microbial communities in concrete as early warning signals of potential concrete damage, weakness, or decreased integrity, engineers can better anticipate structural deterioration of buildings without having to wait for visible signs of structure damage.


Nasim Delavari
Technical Services Department


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   Optical oddities… 
This is an untouched photo of a dry lake in Death Valley, California, known as “The Racetrack.” Many rocks on the dry lake appear to have moved and left tracks behind them. Was it caused by a magnetic disturbance, animal activity, aberrant gravitational pull, prehistoric native Americans, or a modern day prank?
Scroll to bottom to find out…



  “Believe half of what you see

and none of what you hear.”

 ~ Benjamin Franklin ~



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Patient Compliance
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* Did you hear about the lifeguard that refused to save the hippie? He was too far out.
* Did you hear about the guy that was angry when it didn’t get his bread? He was lack toast intolerant!



* “Liquidity” – A financial term meaning the examination of your investments and wetting your pants.


* Did you hear about the antennas on the roof getting married? I hear that the wedding wasn’t much, but the reception was great!
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for luxuriant growth of all anaerobes.
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“Stay away from negative people. 
They have a problem for every solution.” 
Albert Einstein

Over 250 formulas that are used
by thousands of labs daily.

The latest theory, and perhaps the most plausible one,  for the “sailing rocks,” is that weather conditions created a thin film (several millimeters thick) of ice that floated on the mud of the dry lake during cold winter nights. The ice sheet which surrounded and held a rock were pushed by very strong winds coming off the surrounding mountains. As the ice sheet moved (about 5M/minute), the rocks plowed up the mud and left behind the tracks that we see today. This theory was confirmed when scientists tracked 60 rocks by GPS in 2013.
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