Raw oysters, a delicacy for foodies and a purported hangover cure (it isn’t) aren’t always the safest thing to eat. Pathogens such as Vibrio vulnificus, norovirus and Hepatitis A sometimes lurk in oyster flesh. These little nasties can cause food poisoning and norovirus specifically has no treat... Read More
Giving the flu vaccine to pregnant women may bring significant benefits to their babies even before birth, a new study has found.
Canadian researchers studied the records of 55,570 mothers of singletons, of whom 23,340 were vaccinated during pregnancy from November 2009 through April 2010. Co... Read More
The swine flu virus that caused a 2009 pandemic has been found in elephant seals off the central California coast, according to new research. The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, is the first report of the virus H1N1 in any marine mammal. Researchers are now being advised to wear protec... Read More
Researchers have identified the dose of dengue virus in human blood that is required to infect mosquitoes when they bite. Mosquitoes are essential for transmitting the virus between people, so the findings have important implications for understanding how to slow the spread of the disease.
By... Read More
One widely-used tactic for defense against phage and other mobile genetic elements is to deploy a CRISPR-Cas system (click here and here) to recognize and chop them into pieces. Based on sequenced genomes, 60% of Bacteria and 90% of Archaea have the wherewithal to dispatch invaders this way. But... Read More
With cold temperatures, low humidity and high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, conditions 10 kilometers above Earth’s surface may seem inhospitable. But next time you’re flying, consider this: The air outside your airplane window might be filled with an array of microscopic life that affect... Read More
Using the same strategy that a common virus employs to evade the human immune system, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine have modified adult stem cells to increase their survival -- with the goal of giving the cells time to exert their natural... Read More
I can tell you the exact date that I began to think of myself in the first-person plural — as a superorganism, that is, rather than a plain old individual human being. It happened on March 7. That’s when I opened my e-mail to find a huge, processor-choking file of charts and raw data from a labo... Read More
Symbiotic algae that live within reef-forming corals scoop up available nitrogen, store the excess in the form or uric acid crystals, and slowly feed it to the coral as needed, according to a study in mBio this week. Scientists have known for years that these symbiotic microorganisms serve up ni... Read More
I had a conversation with some colleagues last week about “personalized medicine,” which has been transformed now into the term “precision medicine.” The conversation revolved around what to do about the perceived effects of antibiotic treatment on the microbiota of individuals. How does one tre... Read More
The cellular interior is criss-crossed by protein-based cables known as microtubules, each formed from 13 'protofilaments' composed of the protein tubulin. Microtubules are also associated with a host of other specialized proteins that help coordinate the transport of molecular cargoes and link ... Read More
Certain types of anti-depressants have been linked to an increase in the risk of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) finds a study in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine. Awareness of this link should improve identification and early treatment of CDI.
Certain types of anti-dep... Read More
Plants associated bacteria play a key role in host productivity and health. These bacteria are phylogenetically diverse and form interactions considered neutral, beneficial or detrimental. A better understanding of these interactions will have a direct impact in agriculture by promoting sustaina... Read More
IF we’re to believe half a century of daytime TV commercials, housekeeping is war — a perpetual battle against the sneaky soldiers of nature. For decades, we’ve armed ourselves with cleaning products to slay bacteria, scrape away fungus and torture mites. As our household organisms move up the e... Read More
A top New York chef teams up with Harvard scientists to explore the role of bacteria in fermentation. He hopes to better understand and tweak the process to create new and unique flavors to entice the palate. Sharon Reich reports. Read More
Here is a transcript of TWiM episode #46, "Spore!". Thanks to Frank Shinneman for transcription.
The transcript is also available as a pdf file - click here to download.
Back when the Time Lord and I were still engaged, we went shopping for wedding rings. He only had one criteria: he wanted his ring to be made of platinum or a similar material forged in a supernova. It’s not quite as exotic as it sounds: most heavy elements were formed in supernovae, via a proce... Read More
Face masks help prevent people from getting the flu. But how much protection do they provide?
You might think the answer to this question would be well established. It’s not.
In fact, there is considerable uncertainty over how well face masks guard against influenza when people use them ou... Read More
DNA preserved in calcified bacteria on the teeth of ancient human skeletons has shed light on the health consequences of the evolving diet and behaviour from the Stone Age to the modern day.
The ancient genetic record reveals the negative changes in oral bacteria brought about by the dietary ... Read More