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The virus detective who discovered Ebola in 1976

Nearly 40 years ago, a young Belgian scientist travelled to a remote part of the Congolese rainforest - his task was to help find out why so many people were dying from an unknown and terrifying disease.

In September 1976, a package containing a shiny, blue thermos flask arrived at the Instit... Read More

How do they make it work? Genomic Revelations on a Bacterial Consortium

Do you ever look at a couple and wonder… ‘Why are they together? What does X see in Y. I just don’t get it. Is X in it only for the money’? Who doesn’t at times ponder about such matters? There’s practically an entire economy based on it. However, you didn’t find this article while waiting to ... Read More

TWiM 89 Letters

Peter writes:


Dear Michele,


Prof. Szybalski might have been referring to a truck with a wood gas generator


Apparently they are still in use north of the b... Read More

Source of Justian Plague Sequenced?

In a fascinating story that was presented on NPR by Nell Greenfieldboyce we learn that the source of the Justian Plague (541-543AD) was recently identified by sequencing blood extracted from the dental pulp of the teeth associated with two skeletons recovered from Munich. For many years it was... Read More

Three Irish Teens Win Google Science Fair Using Bacteria to Grow Food

A trio of Irish high-schoolers nabbed the top prize in this year's Google Science Fair with a project that speeds up crop growth by tapping into the naturally cozy relationship between soil microbes and plants.

After 11 months of experiments, the three 16-year-olds—Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, a... Read More

A Snippet: One Fungus, Two Bacteria

How often have you heard of two or more bacterial species coexisting within the same cell of a host? It’s known to happen with some frequency in some amebas, insects and other invertebrates (including the strange case of the mealybug bacteria, which have an endosymbiotic bacterium that carries a... Read More

A Letter to STC from Julian Davies

Bravo Randy Schekman!

I strongly support your comments on the tyranny of "impact factors" and I will be pleased to join in efforts to prevent the misuse of these ratings.

Impact Factors have become a symbol of terror for scientists in all disciplines and their use in promotion and other ... Read More

US Travelers Return Home With Tropical Disease. Will It Spread In The States?

If you happened to be reading state health departments’ outbreak announcements this past weekend, you might have seen something interesting.

(You don’t do this? Hmm.)

Three states — Rhode Island, North Carolina and Tennessee — all said that they have identified residents who have been diag... Read More

Bacteria: A day in the life

MIT study finds ocean bacteria follow predictable patterns of daily activity.

We are all creatures of habit, and a new MIT study finds ocean bacteria are no exception.

In a paper published this week in Science, researchers from MIT and elsewhere report that microbes in the open ocean follo... Read More

Bird flu 'danger zones' mapped

The "danger zones" in Asia which are vulnerable to a deadly bird flu have been mapped by scientists.

The virus, called H7N9, has infected 433 people mostly in China and has killed 62.

The study, published in Nature Communications, showed parts of Bangladesh, India and Vietnam could easily ... Read More

Bacterial 'communication system' could be used to stop, kill cancer cells, study finds

Cancer, while always dangerous, truly becomes life-threatening when cancer cells begin to spread to different areas throughout the body. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have discovered that a molecule used as a communication system by bacteria can be manipulated to prevent cancer ... Read More

Retrospective, December 2013

We continue our semi-annual ritual and post this quick tour of our featured blog posts published since June 2013.

Evolution

Microbial ‘Starstuff’. Associate blogger Gemma Reguera tells us how the remnants of a dying star become transmuted into microbial stuff, including cellular structures... Read More

UEA researchers discover Achilles’ heel in antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Scientists at the University of East Anglia have made a breakthrough in the race to solve antibiotic resistance.

New research published today in the journal Nature reveals an Achilles’ heel in the defensive barrier which surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells.

The findings pave the way f... Read More

Untapped Plant Microbiome Could Help Feed Billions

The Human Microbiome Project revealed tens of trillions of microbes residing in and on humans. Now scientists are taking a census of plant microbes—and not just the hundreds of billions found in soils. Distinct microbial communities live inside roots, on leaves and within flowers, and all in all... Read More

Drugs fail to reawaken dormant HIV infection

Scientists report that compounds they hoped would "wake up" dormant reservoirs of HIV inside immune system T cells -- a strategy designed to reverse latency and make the cells vulnerable to destruction -- have failed to do so in laboratory tests of such white blood cells taken directly from pati... Read More

Deadly Human Pathogen Cryptococcus Fully Sequenced

DURHAM, NC - Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus neoformans -- a fungus responsible for a million cases of pneumonia and... Read More

Plants prepackage beneficial microbes in their seeds

Plants have a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria. These 'commensal' bacteria help the plants extract nutrients and defend against invaders -- an important step in preventing pathogens from contaminating fruits and vegetables. Now, scientists have discovered that plants may package thei... Read More

Scientists Call for Investigation of Mysterious Cloud-like Collections in Cells

About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don’t know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a c... Read More

Second American infected with Ebola

A second American aid worker in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola, according to the Christian humanitarian group she works for.

Nancy Writebol is employed by Serving in Mission, or SIM, in Liberia and was helping the joint SIM/Samaritan's Purse team that is treating Ebola patients in Monr... Read More

Staph ‘gangs’ share nutrients during infection: study

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can share resources to cause chronic infections, Vanderbilt investigators have discovered. Like the individual members of a gang who might be relatively harmless alone, they turn deadly when they get together with their “friends.”

The findings, reported Oct. 8 in... Read More

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