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TWiM #24: This year in microbiology



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello... Read More

Snottites - slimy, dripping stalactites made of goo, that contain bacteria in abundance and beautiful microscopic gypsum crystal formations.

Snottites have captivated cave-goers and scientists alike since the earliest publication on cave microbes by Hoeg in 1946. These biofilms cover the walls with a thick snot-like film, from which they derive their particularly appropriate name. A variety of cave systems, the Frasassi caves in Ital... Read More

Antibiotics: Killing Off Beneficial Bacteria… For Good?

It’s an accepted concept by now that taking antibiotics in order to quell an infection disrupts the personal microbiome, the population of microorganisms that we all carry around in our guts, and which vastly outnumbers the cells that make up our bodies. That recognition supports our understandi... Read More

TWiM 29 Letters

Charlotte writes:

At the beginning of Twim #28 Michael articulated his love for math and around minute 12 his desire for "ground truthing" the number of times one touches their face. In response I o... Read More

TWiV 185: Dead parrots and live Wildcats



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Sarah Connolly, Andrew Karaba, Read More

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the CDC: A Long, Tangled Tale

David Tuller, health journalist and Berkeley faculty member, has written a piece on the CDC's handling of CFS. His account draws from interviews, a close reading of a fraction of the 4608 epidemiologic studies that pop up on a PubMed search for “chronic fatigue syndrome,” and a review of many pa... Read More

Study Debunks Common Myth That Urine Is Sterile

Researchers have determined that bacteria are present in the bladders of some healthy women, which discredits the common belief that normal urine is sterile. These findings were published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology by researchers at Loyola University Chicago Strit... Read More

Dr. Kiki's Science Hour Guest Vincent Racaniello

Professor Vincent Racaniello will be a guest today, Thursday 28 July, on Dr. Kiki's Science Hour. Tune in to live.twit.tv at 7:00 PM EDT and listen to Dr. Kirsten Sanford discuss viruses with the host of 'This Week in Virology', 'This Week in Parasitism', and 'This Week in Microbiology'. Read More

Do Gut Microbes Travel From Person to Person?

It’s an exciting time for ecologists who study microbes. DNA sequencing has grown so cheap and fast that they can run around identifying bacteria living just about anywhere they can reach with a cotton swab. Turns out, bacteria are everywhere, even in the cleanest houses, and scientists are star... Read More

Dip Chip biosensor uses microbes to instantly detect almost any toxic substance

Once upon a time, tasters were employed by the well-to-do, in order to check that their food or drink wasn't poisonous. Today, there are electronic biosensors that can do more or less the same thing. Unfortunately, as was no doubt sometimes the case with the tasters, the biosensors can’t always ... Read More

Flesh Eating Bacteria Makes Super Molecular Glue

The same bacteria that eats flesh can make a super glue used to bind molecules.

Dr. Mark Howarth, with his graduate student Bijan Zakeri in Oxford University's department of biochemistry, developed an adhesive that sticks molecules together, nearly inseparably.

They used the bacteria Strep... Read More

TWiV 182 Letters

Joe writes:


Vince, here is the text of my post on Peter S site. I was disappointed in the quality of his article as I have much previous experience with his work and see him as the "David Baltimore of Risk Communication". If you could get him on as a guest you would e... Read More

H5N1 Bird Flu Pandemic Potential Revealed

Two papers published this week, and one last month, reveal the pandemic potential of H5N1 "bird flu". One identifies four, another identifies five, genetic changes the virus would have to undergo before it could spread easily in humans, and the third paper suggests some of these changes are alre... Read More

Potential New Treatment Identified for Leishmaniasis

Researchers at the College of Life Sciences have identified fexinidazole as a possible, much-needed, new treatment for the parasitic disease visceral leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis is named after William Leishman, a Glasgwegian doctor serving with the British Army in India, who first identified... Read More

Discovering novel viruses in insect vectors using metagenomics

I listen to TWiM and perhaps this story (from mine ha!) will be of interests. A nicely written microbiology blog talking about two papers that use metagenomic sequencing on viruses in insect vectors: mosquitoes (animal viruses) and whitefly (plant viruses)

Not only did we find known human an... Read More

Biofuel Research Boosted by Discovery of How Cyanobacteria Make Energy

A generally accepted, 44-year-old assumption about how certain kinds of bacteria make energy and synthesize cell materials has been shown to be incorrect by a team of scientists led by Donald Bryant, the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology at Penn State and a research professor in the D... Read More

Genetic variation in human gut viruses could be raw material for inner evolution

A growing body of evidence underscores the importance of human gut bacteria in modulating human health, metabolism, and disease. Yet bacteria are only part of the story. Viruses that infect those bacteria also shape who we are. Frederic D. Bushman, PhD, professor of Microbiology at the Perelman ... Read More

Ultraviolet rays believed to prevent chickenpox spreading

Ultraviolet rays help prevent the spread of chickenpox, meaning people in milder climates are more at risk of catching the disease, according to new research. The discovery could lead to new ways of preventing chickenpox and its more severe relative, shingles.

A researcher at St George’s, Uni... Read More

Moffitt Cancer Center Researchers Discover How Cancer Cells “Hijack” a Mechanism to Grow

Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues at the University of South Florida have discovered a mechanism that explains how some cancer cells “hijack” a biological process to potentially activate cell growth and the survival of cancer gene expression.

Their study appeared in a recen... Read More

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Linked to Saliva Bacteria


The bacteria in your mouth could one day be used as an early test for pancreatic cancer, a new study suggests.

In a small study, pancreatic cancer patients were found to have different levels of certain bacteria in their saliva than healthy people did. While researchers weren't sure if the ... Read More
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