Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and five other institutions have discovered that the more diverse the diet of a fish, the less diverse are the microbes living in its gut. If the effect is confirmed in humans, it could mean that the combinations of foods people eat can influence... Read More
What if we could make the Great Pacific Garbage Patch just disappear? What if plastics didn't accumulate in our landfills? What if we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions while replacing up to 30 percent of the world's plastics with a biodegradable substitute?
Researchers have tried for deca... Read More
For cellphone whisperers, families that live near highways, airports or trains, music-loving commuters, and even individual cells, noise is an inescapable fact of life. In everyday human experience, the nuisance is often manageable. Soundproof barriers and noise-canceling headphones help scrub t... Read More
A controversy that has been brewing for several years in the world of influenza research may ignite again with the publication last week of a new paper that’s worth a read. I haven’t to date written about the controversy, which centers on what’s called “gain of function” research. In the case of... Read More
Creating synthetic organisms with specially-tailored genomes is a long way off, but the first synthetic eukaryotic chromosome is a big step forward.
Humans have been using what they know about the biological world to make stuff for centuries—from beer to antibiotics. But, what if you could ma... Read More
The placenta is full of microbes, a new study finds, raising questions about how that ecosystem and mothers' oral health influence the risk of pre-term birth.
Even before a baby is born a microbial ecosystem takes up residence in the placenta, creating a microbiome that may help shape the new... Read More
Researchers at ETH Zurich have isolated a protein from a fungus of the spruce which combats nematodes. The scientists hope that toxins of this kind will become the basis for the vaccination of livestock or domestic animals against zooparasitic nematodes.
Most terrestrial plants enter into bio... Read More
In 2012 I wrote a story for Nature about a strange illness called Kawasaki Disease whose cause has eluded scientists for over 50 years. The diseases causes inflammation of the blood vessels in small children that leads to fever, rashes and reddening, and even coronary aneurysms that can cause he... Read More
The instructions encoded into DNA are thought to follow a universal set of rules across all domains of life. But researchers report in the May 23 issue of Science that organisms routinely break these rules.
The finding has implications for the design of synthetic life: by designing organisms ... Read More
About 6,000 years ago, a bacterium underwent a few genetic changes. These allowed it to expand its habitat from the guts of mice to that of fleas. Such changes happen all the time, but in this particular instance the transformation eventually resulted in the Black Death that wiped out a third of... Read More
One of the food industry’s major recurring challenges, detecting highly carcinogenic toxins that occur naturally in our most common crops, could soon be solved by groundbreaking research that exploits aflatoxins’ fluorescent properties.
Aflatoxins are present in a wide... Read More
Peter Trimble found his formula through trial and error. A design student at the University of Edinburgh, he was aiming to produce an artistic exhibition for a module on sustainability, when he stumbled on "Dupe," a living alternative to concrete.
A lab technician introduced Trimble to Sporos... Read More
For most of my life, if I’ve thought at all about the bacteria living on my skin, it has been while trying to scrub them away. But recently I spent four weeks rubbing them in. I was Subject 26 in testing a living bacterial skin tonic, developed by AOBiome, a biotech start-up in Cambridge, Mass. ... Read More