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Why CRISPR Doesn't Work in E. coli

We received this query:

»I enjoyed the article on your blog 'Six Questions About CRISPRs' by Merry Youle. I am an ex-lambdologist, having quit phage lambda in the early 70s and moved to GM-plants. There is one thing about CRISPR that I do not understand: Why did lambdologists not find CRISPR?... Read More

Ancient Viruses Lurk In Frozen Caribou Poo

A careful examination of frozen caribou poop has turned up two never-before-seen viruses.

The viruses are hundreds of years old: One of them probably infected plants the caribous ate. The other may have infected insects that buzzed around the animals.

The findings prove viruses can survive... Read More

The Way You’re Born Can Mess With the Microbes You Need to Survive

Throughout the animal kingdom, mothers transfer microbes to their young while giving birth. Different species of tadpoles acquire specific skin bacteria from mother frogs even though they all live in the same pond with the same bacterial background. Emerging chicken eggs get inoculated with micr... Read More

Vaccine-resistant polio strain discovered

The global initiative to eradicate poliomyelitis through routine vaccination has helped reduce the number of cases by more than 99% in 30 years. However, major epidemics are still occurring today. Researchers have identified the virus responsible for deadly and recent outbreaks, and have sequenc... Read More

Flu virus key machine: First complete view of structure revealed

Scientists looking to understand – and potentially thwart – the influenza virus now have a much more encompassing view, thanks to the first complete structure of one of the flu virus’ key machines. Knowing the structure allows researchers to finally understand how the machine works as a whole, a... Read More

Pictures Considered #22. ¡Viva La Resolucion!

Why should we consider this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry, and why in our 'Pictures Considered' section in the first place? A hint comes from one of the many press releases: "... for improving the resolution of optical microscopes." Aha! Microscopes are at the heart of microbiology since Rober... Read More

Antibodies discovery could lead to universal dengue vaccine

A major new class of antibodies that can make the four different types of dengue virus (DENV) non-infectious has been discovered by a group of international researchers, including from the University of Melbourne.

The discovery could lead to the development of better vaccines and laboratory t... Read More

Comparing the genomes of the leprosy bacteria

Leprosy is a chronic infection of the skin, peripheral nerves, eyes and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, affecting over a quarter million people worldwide. Its symptoms can be gruesome and devastating, as the bacteria reduce sensitivity in the body, resulting in skin lesions, nerve damage ... Read More

Microbe, Enzyme or Mineral? A Riddle in the Soil

When most people look at soil, they just see dirt. When I look at soil, I see billions of microorganisms crawling atop one another, consuming the dead in a feasting frenzy that stops for nothing save a deep freeze. I see microbes and their enzymes, the digestive juices that break down, transform... Read More

Study Shows Bed Bugs Can Transmit Parasite that Causes Chagas Disease

The bed bug may be just as dangerous as its sinister cousin, the triatomine, or “kissing” bug. A new study from Penn Medicine researchers in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics demonstrated that bed bugs, like the triatomines, can transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that ... Read More

Nibbled to Death: U.Va. Researchers Discover New Way Human Cells Are Killed

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine studying a potentially deadly parasitic infection have discovered a previously unknown way that human cells are killed, with the parasitic amoeba essentially nibbling cells to death – as a piranha might attack its prey.

Until now, r... Read More

Events In Your Past Determine Which Microbes Live On You

A scientist with a swab and a microscope could tell what school you went to. Trillions of microbes live in and on our body. We don’t yet fully understand how these microbial ecosystems develop or the full extent to which they influence our health. Some provide essential nutrients, while others c... Read More

Think We're Rid of Measles? Think Again

Over the last few weeks, the numerous outbreaks of measles in Canada have led many public health officials and microbiologists to shake their collective heads. The reason is simple: this should not be happening. Of all the pathogenic viruses, this one has been on our radar for nearly 200 years a... Read More

Microbe helps switchgrass 'detox' polluted soil.

Switchgrass successfully removed up to 40 percent of the PCBs from contaminated soils in lab experiments. When a PCB-oxidizing microorganism joined in, the removal rate reached 47 percent.

The researchers investigated how adding an aerobic PCB-oxidizing microorganism could enhance the oxidati... Read More

ASM GM 2014 - This Week in Virology #286: Boston TWiV Party

The American Society for Microbiology hosted a live podcast of This Week in Virology with Vincent Racaniello with co-host Alan Dove that includes guests Paul Duprex, Director of Cell and Tissue Imaging Core, Boston University, National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL), and Ju... Read More

Malaria transmission linked to mosquitoes’ sexual biology

Sexual biology may be the key to uncovering why Anopheles mosquitoes are unique in their ability to transmit malaria to humans, according to researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and University of Perugia, Italy. Through analysis of 16 Anopheles genomes, they found that these... Read More

Who Made That Flavor? Maybe A Genetically Altered Microbe

For practically our whole history of cooking and eating, we've gotten our spices and most flavors (not to mention all of the other basic nutrients that keep us alive) straight from plants.

But researchers and biotech companies are starting to produce some of these nutrients and flavors — espe... Read More

Insight into pathogenic fungus

The fungal pathogen Candida albicans causes yeast infections, diaper rashes and oral thrush, and is the most common fungal pathogen to infect humans. Researchers have identified a protein that the fungus uses to defend itself against the human body. Another concern with the fungus is that it can... Read More

The pathogen detectives: sourcing the post-earthquake cholera outbreak in Haiti

Natural disasters such as earthquakes can have far-reaching effects beyond the damage caused on the day they occur. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti damaged the already limited sanitation systems leading to areas without adequate toilet and washing facilities; perfect for the spread of infection dis... Read More

Superbugs should scare you more than Ebola in US

The first case of Ebola in the United States was announced today, with a patient in Dallas who traveled to the US from Liberia. The resultant hysteria and xenophobia prompts this reminder. There is NO need to panic.

Ebola is NOT transmitted before a patient develops symptoms. Ebola is transmi... Read More
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