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Microbe, Enzyme or Mineral? A Riddle in the Soil

When most people look at soil, they just see dirt. When I look at soil, I see billions of microorganisms crawling atop one another, consuming the dead in a feasting frenzy that stops for nothing save a deep freeze. I see microbes and their enzymes, the digestive juices that break down, transform... Read More

Immune cell ‘defenders’ could beat invading bacteria

An international team of scientists has identified the precise biochemical key that wakes up the body’s immune cells and sends them into action against invading bacteria and fungi.
The patented work, published in Nature today, provides the starting point to understanding our first line of defen... Read More

Adhering To The 'Replicon Model' The Sloppy Way

Sixty years ago Jacob, Brenner and Cuzin devised their 'Replicon Model', inspiring and useful guideline for replication research ever since. According to the model, a 'Replicon' is a genetic element replicated from a single 'Replicator'—replication origin, in modern terms—and replication is trig... Read More

Microgravity research helping to understand the fungi within

(Phys.org) —You may not recognize it by name, but if you have ever had a child with a diaper rash, that child was likely a host to Candida albicans (C. albicans). This unwelcome "guest" can be hard to control, as it can potentially lead to serious illness in humans with weakened immune systems. ... 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

Investigating the Cheese Microbiome

We need to understand how diverse communities of microbes interact, but doing so in the gut is hard. Why not turn to a model system, where diverse microbial communities interact, but in an environment that’s easier to study? We have a long history of using model systems in biology – the mice I m... Read More

Muddled about MERS? Here’s A Quick Guide

While I was working on the “H1N-What?” post, I also knew there would soon be questions about MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), just as there were about SARS. So here are the essentials of what we know and don’t know about MERS—which has just been reported in the U.S.—as well as intriguing... Read More

New ways of cultivating valuable marine microorganisms

A four-year EU-funded project has identified new ways of cultivating marine microorganisms and screening them for potentially useful marine bio-compounds. This could have implications for the healthcare, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, which are just a few of the sectors that are eager ... Read More

Nibbled to Death: U.Va. Researchers Discover New Way Human Cells Are Killed

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine studying a potentially deadly parasitic infection have discovered a previously unknown way that human cells are killed, with the parasitic amoeba essentially nibbling cells to death – as a piranha might attack its prey.

Until now, r... 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

Rare byproduct of marine bacteria kills cancer cells by snipping their DNA

Yale University researchers have determined how a scarce molecule produced by marine bacteria can kill cancer cells, paving the way for the development of new, low-dose chemotherapies.

The molecule, lomaiviticin A, was previously shown to be lethal to cultured human cancer cells, but the mech... Read More

Natural History is Dying, and We Are All the Losers

A few weeks ago, I came across a new paper in BioScience called “Natural History’s Place in Science and Society” that contained the following graph.

On the right axis and indicated by the line surrounded by dots is the proportion of introductory biology texts devoted to natural history since ... Read More

How a plant beckons the bacteria that will do it harm

A common plant puts out a welcome mat to bacteria seeking to invade, and scientists have discovered the mat's molecular mix. The study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals new targets during the battle between microbe and host that researchers can ex... Read More

The Result of the Microbiome Poll

What have we learned?

The various comments confirm that the term microbiome means different things to different people.

Lita points out that in the early days when HMP was formed, the NIH officially defined the human microbiome as “all of the microorganisms and their genes and genomes whic... 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

From the archives: life at 90°C

Prokaryotes are by far the most successful superkingdom in terms of both biochemical diversity and the variety of environments conquered. Bacteria can be found living in all kinds of adverse conditions; from high alkaline lakes, to below freezing temperature, to hot volcanic vents which in some ... Read More

My Global Video Challenge by Dr Charles J ELIKWU, Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Nigeria

This is in celebration of the Global Handwashing Day, 2013. To God be Glory
Theme: The Power is Your Hand
Organized by the Infection Control Committee, Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria Read More

Clear halo in petri dishes by Acetobacter pasteurianus

Growth of Acetobacter pasteurianus on glucose, yeast extract, calcium carbonate, ethanol medium.
Formation of acetic acid from ethanol oxidation is shown by a clear halo around bacterial growth due to dissolution of calcium carbonate.
Organism: Acetobacter pasteurianus. Incubation conditions:... Read More

Dairy scientist targets heat-resistant microbes

Corralling desperados with names like bacillus and paenibacillus will require ingenuity and an arsenal of weapons. These outlaws aren't rustling cattle—they're making milk sour and cheese soft and crumbly.

For more than a century, milk has been heated to kill any bacteria or pathogens that ca... Read More

Brewing yeasts reveal secrets of chromosomal warfare and dysfunction

Using two yeasts that have been used to brew tea and beer for centuries, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have revealed how reproductive barriers might rapidly arise to create species boundaries. Schizosaccharomyces pombe has been used to brew beer in Africa, whereas its clo... Read More

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