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Solid catalyst simplifies turning algae into biodiesel

As home biodiesel brewers know, it's a time-consuming and chemically intensive process to transform French fry grease into a fuel. And then there's the problem of burning something in your truck that could have fed people; canola oil can be used for food or fuel, for example. Read More

Biomass: Can Renewable Power Grow on Trees?

Dear EarthTalk: There’s a lot of talk today about solar and wind power, but what about biomass? How big a role might this renewable energy source play in our future? Couldn’t everyday people burn their own lawn and leaf clippings to generate power?
-- Deborah Welch, Niagara Falls, NY

The old... Read More

Sweet Home Microbiology?!

Found this little southern rock classic reworked for the microbiology-minded via YouTube. It's pretty funny, if not outright ridiculous. Here are the lyrics: Big spores keep on drifting Carry me to my new hosts skin Contact airborne isolation Its time to infect someone again I know its a sin M... Read More

Salmonella Evolves into Something More in Space

Research conducted on the International Space Station in 2006 and 2008 has finally revealed for certain something that virology experts have suspected for a long time, and namely that salmonella grows to be more or less dangerous depending on its environment. In the micro-gravity surroundings of... Read More

Oral Yogurt 'Vaccine' Could Blunt Ouch Factor

Imagine how much nicer it would be to get vaccinated by drinking a yogurt smoothie
instead of being poked by a needle. That might someday be the case, thanks to Northwestern University researchers who developed a new oral vaccine using probiotics, which are healthy
bacteria found in dairy prod... Read More

Researchers Warn of Bacteria Found in Desserts in Mexico

A study to be published in the April issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reports that desserts from restaurants in Mexico are likely to give patients travelers’ diarrhea, and are yet another food to avoid when visiting developing countries where sanitation may not be o... Read More

Gene exchange common among sex-manipulating bacteria

Certain bacteria have learned to manipulate the proportion of females and males in insect populations. Now Uppsala University researchers have mapped the entire genome of a bacterium that infects a close relative of the fruit fly. The findings, published in PNAS, reveal extremely high frequencie... Read More

New Test Could Speed Tuberculosis Results

Tuberculosis killed one million three hundred thousand people around the world in two thousand seven. In addition, almost half a million people who were infected with tuberculosis and with H.I.V. also died. Those were listed as H.I.V. deaths. Read More

Green hair bleach?

The new blond is bound to be green – that is if chemists at a Japanese beauty company have their way. New research, presented today at the American Chemical Society meeting in Salt Lake City, has uncovered an enzyme that can remove dark pigment from hair. Read More

This scientist's passion: Ending the scourge of parasitic diseases

Even as a child, Peter Hotez held a grown-up's fascination for the tiny creatures living in the creek near his house. Inspired by Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters, a popular book on disease detectives, Hotez persuaded his parents to buy him a microscope. He spent hours watching little animals wri... Read More

Improved Antibiotic: Genes For Synthesizing Thiostrepton Identified

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have identified the genetic machinery responsible for synthesizing thiostrepton, a powerful antibiotic produced by certain bacteria. Though effective against the dangerous MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and vancomycin-resista... Read More

New Enzymes Created For Biofuel Production

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and world-leading gene-synthesis company DNA2.0 have taken an important step toward the development of a cost-efficient process to extract sugars from cellulose--the world's most abundant organic material and cheapest form of solar-... Read More

Beneficial Bacteria at Risk from Sunscreen

A study by University of Toledo researchers discovered that nano-titanium dioxide used in personal care products reduced biological roles of bacteria after less than an hour of exposure. The findings suggest that these particles, which end up at municipal sewage treatment plants after being wash... Read More

Oozing Through Texas Soil, a Team of Amoebas Billions Strong

After producing superlatives like the world’s biggest statue of a jackrabbit and the nation’s most unpopular modern-day president, Texas can now boast what may be its most bizarre and undoubtedly its slimiest topper yet: the world’s largest known colony of clonal amoebas. Read More

New Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV Research Created in South Africa

A groundbreaking partnership between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa will establish an international research center focused on making major scientific contributions to the worldwide effort to control the devastating co-epidem... Read More

Probiotics: They Sound Good, but How Friendly Are They?

What exactly is going on in those Activia ads, anyway? One minute actress Jamie Lee Curtis is talking. Then comes a graphic of a female-looking abdomen with a bunch of yellow dots swarming around in the middle. As 14 calendar pages flip, the dots arrange themselves in the shape of a downward-poi... Read More

Death Nets and Premature Babies

When locked in mortal combat with infection, some mature white blood cells have a formidable weapon: they literally cast a DNA net—called a neutrophil extracellular trap (NET)—that captures and kills bacteria that invade the human body. But the ability to form this "death" NET is missing in the ... Read More

Flies May Spread Drug-resistant Bacteria From Poultry Operations

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found evidence that houseflies collected near broiler poultry operations may contribute to the dispersion of drug-resistant bacteria and thus increase the potential for human exposure to drug-resistant bacteria. The findings demo... Read More

World Tuberculosis Day 2009

Today is World Tuberculosis Day.

"World TB Day, 24 March 2009, is about celebrating the lives and stories of people affected by TB: women, men and children who have taken TB treatment; nurses; doctors; researchers; community workers--anyone who has contributed towards the global fight agains... Read More

No Phosphorus? No Problem! (There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Phytoplankton)

A recent post from the Small Things Considered blog comments on an interesting paper on how phytoplankton in the ocean use non-phosphorus lipids in response to phosphorus scarcity.

"A recent paper revisits an earlier finding that marine cyanobacteria and small eukaryotes (the “phytoplankton”)... Read More

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