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Pictures Considered #10. The Origin of Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis

In May 1984, readers of an article by Schwartz and Cantor in the prestigious journal Cell were to stumble upon pictures of DNA agarose gels that were among the lousiest of such ever published after the method was introduced in the early 70s. Why did the editors of Cell risk their reputation? Or ... Read More

Lyme bacteria show that evolvability is evolvable

Natural selection favours those with a greater capacity to generate genetic variation.

Some gamblers succeed by spiriting cards up their sleeves, giving them a wider range of hands to play. So do some bacteria, whose great capacity for genetic variability helps them evolve and adapt to rapidl... Read More

Compound stymies polyomaviruses in lab

There is no approved medicine to treat polyomaviruses, which afflict people with weakened immune systems, but scientists have found that a chemical compound called Retro-2 is able to reduce significantly the infectivity and spread of the viruses in lab cell cultures. Now they are working to impr... Read More

New research reveals how bacteria construct tiny flagella ‘nanomachines’ outside the cell

Cambridge scientists have uncovered the mechanism by which bacteria build their surface propellers (flagella) – the long extensions that allow them to swim towards food and away from danger. The results, published this week in the journal Nature, demonstrate how the mechanism is powered by the s... Read More

Dengue Fever Makes Inroads into the U.S.

The mosquito-borne infection is cropping up in Florida, but mysteriously not in similar regions in the nation.

Most Americans lose little sleep over dengue fever. The mosquito-borne infection is a leading killer in the tropics and subtropics, but it’s been a long-held belief that ubiquitous a... Read More

Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops

Evolution is relentless process that seems to keep going and going, even when creatures live in a stable, unchanging world.

That's the latest surprise from a unique experiment that's been underway for more than a quarter-century.

Evolution is so important for biology, medicine and a genera... Read More

TWiM #68: The fungus among us

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Hosts: Vincent RacanielloElio Schaechter Read More

TWiM 68 Letters

Dr. Robert Kelley writes:


Dear Twim Docs,


I just finished listening to the latest episode it Twim on the microbiote's effects on obesity. There was discussion about the use of donor feces in the treatment of human disease. I thought this might be of interest.<... Read More

Better batteries through biology?

MIT researchers find a way to boost lithium-air battery performance, with the help of modified viruses.

Lithium-air batteries have become a hot research area in recent years: They hold the promise of drastically increasing power per battery weight, which could lead, for example, to electric c... Read More

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and a dead human neutrophil. Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID). Read More

Study Finds Molecular Recognition Mechanism That Assists Outer Membrane Fusion in Myxobacteria

Molecular biologists at the University of Wyoming have found a molecular mechanism that allows myxobacteria to recognize related strains that lead to the transient fusion of their outer membranes to exchange lipids and proteins.

Results of the study, led by Associate Professor Daniel Wall in ... Read More

MERS-CoV

Transmission electron micrograph of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID).

From the CDC:

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Ara... Read More

Malaria: A race against resistance

Several African nations could strike a major blow against malaria by sacrificing the efficacy of some older drugs. Can they make it work?

It is September in southeastern Mali, and Louka Coulibaly is standing in the shade of a squat, concrete building, giving instructions to a dozen men and wo... Read More

Tel Aviv University team finds bacteria-killing protein, could replace antibiotics

A group of Israeli researchers has succeeded in isolating a protein that kills bacteria, in what is a first step toward developing a substitute for antibiotics. The substance isolated by a Tel Aviv University team prevents bacteria from dividing, thus destroying them and combatting infections. “... Read More

Structure of bacterial nanowire protein hints at secrets of conduction (w/ Video)

Tiny electrical wires protrude from some bacteria and contribute to rock and dirt formation. Researchers studying the protein that makes up one such wire have determined the protein's structure. The finding is important to such diverse fields as producing energy, recycling Earth's carbon and min... Read More

Influenza A viruses in bats

It is well known that aquatic birds are a major reservoir of influenza A viruses, and that pandemic human influenza virus strains of the past century derive viral genes from this pool. The recent discovery of two new influenza A viruses in bats suggests that this species may constitute another r... Read More

Coxiella burnetii, the bacteria that cause Q fever

A dry fracture of a Vero cell exposing the contents of a vacuole where Coxiella burnetii are busy growing. Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID). Read More

Mathematical analysis helps untangle bacterial chromosomes

When an E. coli cell divides, it must replicate its circular chromosome and pull the resulting circles apart to take up residence in two new cells. It sounds easy enough—like a magician's trick with rings—but actually involves a complicated process of unknotting and unlinking of tangled DNA.

... Read More

Preprints come to life

A dedicated website for sharing biology papers before peer review leaves journals divided.

What are biologists so afraid of? Physicists, mathematicians and social scientists routinely post their research to preprint servers such as arXiv.org before publication, yet few life scientists follow ... Read More

Researchers apply new technique to manipulate virus, make it a possible cancer treatment

Purdue University researchers successfully eliminated the native infection preferences of a Sindbis virus engineered to target and kill cancer cells, a milestone in the manipulation of this promising viral vector.

"This virus had been known to be a good vector for delivering therapeutic cargo... Read More

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