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Harvard scientists control cells following transplantation, from the inside out

Harvard stem cells scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT can now engineer cells that are more easily controlled following transplantation, potentially making cell therapies, hundreds of which are currently in clinical trials across the United States, more functional and efficient.
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Why Scientists Are Trying Viruses To Beat Back Bacteria

Not all viruses are bad for us. Some of them might even help up us fight off bacterial infections someday.

Naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages attack specific types of bacteria. So researchers at the University of Leicester decided to try and take advantage of phages' bacteria-d... Read More

Retrospective, June 2013

We continue our semi-annual ritual and post this quick tour of our blog posts published since December, 2012.

Pictures Considered

Our new section dealing with “pictures that made a difference but may be nearly forgotten by now” seems to be off to a good start. Please send us suggestions of... Read More

Scientists re-define what’s healthy in newest analysis for Human Microbiome Project

University of Michigan microbiologist Pat Schloss, Ph.D., describes latest findings from Human Microbiome Project. Based on their findings in today’s Nature, there is no single healthy microbiome. Rather each person harbors a unique and varied collection of bacteria that’s the result of life his... Read More

Microbes Swim to Hydrogen Gas

Scientists have long believed that microorganisms that produce methane swim toward the hydrogen gas they need to stay alive, but it has been too hard to prove in the lab.

Montana State University researchers have now overcome those challenges, allowing them to verify it for the first time, sa... Read More

How zinc starves lethal bacteria to stop infection

Australian researchers have found that zinc can 'starve' one of the world's most deadly bacteria by preventing its uptake of an essential metal.

The finding, by infectious disease researchers at the University of Adelaide and The University of Queensland, opens the way for further work to des... Read More

Termite digestive-tract microorganisms: A resource to fuel the future

With increasing attention toward generating cost-effective biochemical conversion methods for producing biofuels, it helps to follow the leaders who have perfected the process. The mere Reticulitermes flavipes, or eastern subterranean termite, a famous feaster of lignocellulosic plant materials ... Read More

Yellowstone Caldera, Wyoming

Bacterial mats, golden brown in color, seen at the outer edges of Chromatic Pools. The blue water in the center is the hottest water at ~199 F and cooling to ambient the farther you get from the center. Cyanobacteria grow around 163 F or lower. Read More

Intestinal Bacteria Influence Food Transit Through the Gut

Food transit through the small intestine affects the body's absorption of nutrients and, consequently, our health. The discovery that food transit time is regulated by a hormone indicates new ways to increase the intestinal absorption of nutrients, and thus potentially treat malnutrition.

One... Read More

Blood test can determine whether illness is caused by virus or bacteria

Researchers at Duke University say they have created a blood test that can determine whether a person's respiratory illness is caused by a bacterial infection or a virus, with over 90 percent accuracy.

What's more, the test only takes about 12 hours to get results. Current methods take severa... Read More

Innovative vaccine in trial for advanced ovarian cancer

A clinical trial of an innovative vaccine is occurring. The vaccine could offer hope to patients with advanced ovarian cancer. The vaccine, which is derived from the patient's tumor cells, is designed to jumpstart the patient's immune system to attack and kill cancer cells.

Ovarian cancer is ... Read More

Cancer virus discovery helped by delayed flight

Bad weather and a delayed flight might be a recipe for misery - but in one instance 50 years ago it led to a discovery that has saved countless thousands of lives.

The discovery of the Epstein Barr virus - named after British doctor Anthony Epstein - resulted from his specialist knowledge of ... Read More

Dictyostelium amoeba eating bacteria (video)

Actin is shown in red. From Clarke, M., and Maddera, L. (2006). Phagocyte meets prey: Uptake, internalization, and killing of bacteria by Dictyostelium amoebae. Eur. J. Cell Biol. 85:1001-1010; reproduced with permission from Elsevier. Honorable mention 2013 Bioscapes Competition. Dr. Margaret ... Read More

Microbial ‘Starstuff’

Famed astronomer and writer Carl Sagan said in his book Cosmos: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” And so are microbes, we must add. To understand the s... Read More

Teaching Pseudomonas to Endocytose

I offer this as an echo to Elio's post from last October, Teaching E. coli to Endocytose. There Elio reported the recent education of E. coli by the heterologous expression of a mammalian gene. I tell of a bacterium instructed by a phage.

Apparently Pseudomonas phage φ6 missed that classic 19... Read More

Stockpiles of Roche Tamiflu drug are waste of money, review finds

Researchers who have fought for years to get full data on Roche's flu medicine Tamiflu said on Thursday that governments who stockpile it are wasting billions of dollars on a drug whose effectiveness is in doubt.

In a review of trial data on Tamiflu, and on GlaxoSmithKline's flu drug Relenza,... Read More

Dual virus-receptor duel

Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites: they must enter a cell to reproduce. To gain access to the cell interior, a virus must first bind to one or more specific receptor molecules on the cell surface. Cell receptors for viruses do not exist only to serve viruses: they also have cellular f... Read More

By Chance and Necessity: The Role of the Cytoskeleton in the Genesis of Eukaryotes

One of the most exciting and enduring obscurities of biology lies in the early stages of the evolution of “our” eukaryotic cells (Figure 1). The endosymbiotic theory accounts well for the present existence of the mitochondrial and chloroplast organelles of eukaryotes. Although there is evidence ... Read More

How Flesh-Eating Strep Bacteria Evolved into an Epidemic

Bacteria aren’t kind enough to leave behind a fossil record (save for cyanobacteria), but they’re evolving fast. Really fast. Their short life cycles mean that generations come rapid-fire, adapting through natural selection into the monster pathogens that are currently shrugging off our finest a... Read More

Randomized Treatments May Be More Effective at Stopping Disease Outbreaks

Mathematicians have found that by varying the timing of treatments, doctors may be able to increase the odds that a disease outbreak will die off suddenly.

Herding cats is a cakewalk compared with getting people to take flu vaccine shots in the last weeks of summer—work, school, limited pharm... Read More

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