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This Bizarre Organism Builds Itself a New Genome Every Time It Has Sex

09/17/2014
Oxytricha trifallax lives in ponds all over the world. Under an electron microscope it looks like a football adorned with tassels. The tiny fringes are the cilia it uses to move around and gobble up algae. What makes Oxytricha unusual, however, is the crazy things it does with its DNA. Unlike ...

Fibroblast Expressing Ebola Virus

09/17/2014
Honorable Mention - 2008 Olympus Bioscapes International Digital Imaging Competition Dr. David McDonald Case School of Medicine Cleveland, OH, USA Specimen: Fibroblast Expressing Ebola Virus Technique: Fluorescence/Deconvolution Click "source" to view image.

Recruiting bacteria to be technology innovation partners

09/17/2014
For most people biofilms conjure up images of slippery stones in a streambed and dirty drains. While there are plenty of "bad" biofilms around – they even cause pesky dental plaque and a host of other more serious medical problems – a team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired ...

Ebola outbreak “out of all proportion” and severity cannot be predicted

09/17/2014
A mathematical model that replicates Ebola outbreaks can no longer be used to ascertain the eventual scale of the current epidemic, finds research conducted by the University of Warwick. Dr Thomas House, of the University’s Warwick Mathematics Institute, developed a model that incorporated data from past outbreaks that successfully replicated their ...

Healthy humans make nice homes for viruses

09/17/2014
The same viruses that make us sick can take up residence in and on the human body without provoking a sneeze, cough or other troublesome symptom, according to new research. On average, healthy individuals carry about five types of viruses on their bodies, the researchers report. The study is the ...

Motorcycling to Ebola Treatment Could Spread the Infection

09/17/2014
Ambulances are scarce in areas of west Africa roiled by the Ebola outbreak, so when ill patients and their families need to go to the clinic they often turn to the next best thing—a motorcycle taxi. An ill passenger will wrap her arms around the driver’s waist and away they ...

How I Learned to Think Like a Mushroom

09/16/2014
We need fungal Solutions to Pollution, Global Pandemics, and Starvation, says Tradd Cotter, a microbiologist and professional mycologist. I have been studying mushrooms, inside and out, macroscopically and microscopically, for the past 22 years. At times I imagine myself deep into their chemical consciousness to figure out what they are thinking ...

Strategic Self-Sabotage? MRSA Inhibits Its Own Growth

09/16/2014
Scientists at the University of Western Ontario have uncovered a bacterial mystery. Against all logic, the most predominant strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in North American produces an enzyme that degrades skin secretions into compounds that are toxic to itself. The research is published online ahead of print ...

Pitt-Developed Vaccine Proves Effective Against Deadly Middle East Virus

09/16/2014
A vaccine developed by an international team of scientists led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine successfully protects mice against a contagious and deadly virus spreading across the Middle East. The vaccine is a promising candidate for immunizing camels, thought to be the source of human infection. Details of ...

Fighting Poisons With Bacteria - Going Inside the Rice Microbiome

09/16/2014
When Harsh Bais grows rice plants in trays of water in his greenhouse at the University of Delaware, he can easily spot the ones that have been exposed to arsenic: They are stunted, with shorter stems and shrunken, yellow-tinged leaves. Dr. Bais is working to develop rice plants that take up ...

Enterovirus D68 sickens more than a dozen in New York

09/16/2014
More than a dozen cases of Enterovirus D68 have been confirmed in New York state, according to officials. "EV-D68 is causing cases of severe respiratory illness ... sometimes resulting in hospitalization, especially among children with asthma," the NYS Department of Health said in a statement Friday. Enteroviruses are quite common in September; ...

Fact or Fiction?: The Ebola Virus Will Go Airborne

09/16/2014
Could Ebola go airborne? That’s the fear set off last week by a New York Times op-ed entitled “What We’re Afraid to Say about Ebola” from Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Although clinicians readily agree that the Ebola ...

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Hang Out in Hog Workers

09/16/2014
Careful what you sniff. Especially if you work at an industrial hog farm. Because a small study finds that drug-resistant bacteria may hang out in the noses of some workers even after four days away from work following exposure. Almost half of the tested workers continued to harbor drug-resistant bacteria ...

How evolutionary principles could help save our world

09/15/2014
The age of the Anthropocene--the scientific name given to our current geologic age--is dominated by human impacts on our environment. A warming climate. Increased resistance of pathogens and pests. A swelling population. Coping with these modern global challenges requires application of what one might call a more-ancient principle: evolution. That's the ...

New Tracking Technologies Aim to Prevent Sloppy Handling at U.S. Biolabs

09/15/2014
Two months after safety breaches at federal labs first set off a public furor, top health officials are auditioning new checks on worker safety including specialized time-lapse cameras and digital worksheets to track crucial steps such as bacterium inactivation. The goal: to prevent future debacles with dangerous pathogens and protect ...

Artificial Spleen Cleans Ebola from Blood

09/15/2014
Researchers have developed a high-tech method to rid the body of infections — even those caused by unknown pathogens. A device inspired by the spleen can quickly clean blood of everything from Escherichia coli to Ebola, researchers report on September 14 in Nature Medicine. Blood infections can be very difficult to ...

Watching an Endosymbiont Becoming an Organelle?

09/15/2014
Ah, endosymbiosis and the origin of eukaryotic cells… Wasn't this one of the grandest of all the grand events in Biology? In its ability to boggle the mind, it comes in second only to the origin of life. This, one of the most decisive events in evolution, had a unique ...

Malaria parasites sense and react to mosquito presence to increase transmission

09/12/2014
Many pathogens are transmitted by insect bites. The abundance of vectors (as the transmitting insects are called) depends on seasonal and other environmental fluctuations. A new article demonstrates that Plasmodium parasites react to mosquitoes biting their hosts, and that the parasite responses increase transmission to the mosquito vector. Click "source" to ...
09/12/2014
U.S. researchers have found a link between intestinal bacteria and the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. And the finding could have important implications for how vaccines are given. Our intestines are full of bacteria; they help us digest our food. But scientists are starting to learn how important these microbes can ...

Vaginal Microbe Yields Novel Antibiotic

09/12/2014
Bacteria living on human bodies contain genes that are likely to code for a vast number of drug-like molecules — including a new antibiotic made by bacteria that live in the vagina, researchers report in this week's issue of Cell. The drug, lactocillin, hints at the untapped medical potential of this ...

Of Terms in Biology: Metagenomic Binning

09/12/2014
Summer's almost gone. Imagine you're strolling along the shores of a lake enjoying nature's colors during sunset. Sparkle catches your eyes where the lake languidly laps against the shore. You start pondering whether microbes — and if so which ones, and how many different — cause these glistening, somewhat slimy foam flakes at the ...

Mapping could help stop Ebola's spread

09/11/2014
Whether it’s the Black Death of 1350 or the Ebola virus in West Africa, one thing deadly pandemics have in common is that their progress takes a geographical course. But researcher Lars Skog at KTH Royal Institute of Technology is one of those developing geoinformation systems that can help health ...

Bacteria Harbor Secret Weapons Against Antibiotics

09/11/2014
The ability of pathogenic bacteria to evolve resistance to antibiotic drugs poses a growing threat to human health worldwide. And scientists have now discovered that some of our microscopic enemies may be even craftier than we suspected, using hidden genetic changes to promote rapid evolution under stress and developing antibiotic ...

Cancer Survivor Saved by Measles Virus Raises Funds for Expanded Trial

09/11/2014
After battling blood cancer for 10 years, Stacy Erholtz has no signs of the disease, thanks to an experimental treatment that used an engineered version of the measles virus. Now, a year after finishing her treatment, the 50-year-old mother of three is transitioning from patient to advocate, working with the Rochester, ...

Researchers Unlock the Genetic Code of Cancer-Causing Liver Fluke Parasite

09/11/2014
An international team of scientists from Singapore, Thailand, China and Australia has cracked the genetic code of the liver fluke parasite, Opisthorchis viverrini, using a unique DNA analysis technique developed at A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). GIS’s DNA analysis technique has allowed the researchers to further study the biology ...

'Immortal' flatworms: Weapon against bacteria

09/11/2014
A novel mode of defense against bacteria, such as the causal agent of tuberculosis or Staphylococcus aureus, has been identified in humans by studying a small, aquatic flatworm, the planarian. This discovery highlights the importance of studying alternative model organisms, and opens the way towards new treatments against bacterial infections. Click ...

Scientists discover hazardous waste-eating bacteria

09/10/2014
Tiny single-cell organisms discovered living underground could help with the problem of nuclear waste disposal, say researchers involved in a study at The University of Manchester. Although bacteria with waste-eating properties have been discovered in relatively pristine soils before, this is the first time that microbes that can survive in the ...

MDR Infection Risk Rises With Each Hospital Day

09/10/2014
Extended stays in hospital appeared to increase the risk of infection with a multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogen, researchers said. In a single-center study, the risk of such infection rose by 1% for every day in hospital, according to Tonya Smith, PharmD, of the University of Utah. But the risk varied markedly with the ...

Five Questions about Filoviruses

09/10/2014
The virus family Filoviridae is home to Ebola virus, as well as several other viruses that can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates. Ebola virus is in the news because of the outbreak in Guinea that has spread to several neighboring African countries. The fatality rate of ...

Gene sequencing refines threatening parasite list

09/05/2014
Twenty-six species of Cryptosporidium have been recognised and 18 species declared non-valid in a recent shake-up of the parasite's taxonomy using DNA sequencing techniques. Cryptosporidium is the second biggest cause of infant diarrhoea and death in developing countries, and is found across 95 nations, including Australia. The parasite spreads by reproducing in ...

Synthetic Fabrics Host More Stench-Producing Bacteria (podcast)

09/05/2014
Micrococcus bacteria thrive on the open-air lattice of synthetic fibers--where they sit chomping on the fatty acids in our sweat, turning them into shorter, stinkier molecules. Christopher Intagliata reports. Click "source" to listen to podcast.

Avian influenza virus isolated in harbor seals poses a threat to humans

09/05/2014
A study led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists found the avian influenza A H3N8 virus that killed harbor seals along the New England coast can spread through respiratory droplets and poses a threat to humans. The research appears in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications. The ...

Knowing how bacteria take out trash could lead to new antibiotics

09/05/2014
A team of scientists has reconstructed how bacteria tightly control their growth and division, the cell cycle, by destroying specific proteins through regulated protein degradation. All organisms use controlled protein degradation to alter cell behavior in response to changing environment. A process as reliable and stable as cell division also ...

Mutating virus suppresses cow’s immune response

09/04/2014
Bovine viral diarrhea virus infections result in one of the most costly diseases among cattle with losses in U.S. herds estimated at $2 billion per year, according to professor Christopher Chase of the South Dakota State University Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department. "It is an immune-suppressive disease," he explains. The virus ...

W.H.O. Concerned About Another Ebola Cluster in Nigeria

09/04/2014
The World Health Organization expressed worry on Wednesday about a second cluster of Ebola virus patients in Nigeria — in the center of its oil industry — because one of the three confirmed victims was a doctor who had treated patients and socialized after he became contagious. The doctor, in the ...

What’s the diference between cow TB and human TB?

09/04/2014
In 1901, when Robert Koch proposed that the bacilli causing human and bovine tuberculosis were not identical, this view caused much controversy. 113 years later we know that the bovine tuberculosis agent, Mycobacterium bovis, together with other animal strains, forms a separate phylogenetic lineage apart from the human Mycobacterium tuberculosis ...

A Friend Turns 95 and Keeps Working in the Lab

09/04/2014
Abe Eisenstark is an old friend of both of us. Elio was a graduate student in the Midwest when he first met him. Abe was then a young faculty member at nearby university and was an inspiring mentor to whom Elio gravitated straightaway. The story is a bit different for ...

Bacteria Used to Create Fossil Fuel Alternative

09/03/2014
British and Finnish scientists have found a way of generating renewable propane using a bacterium widely found in the human intestine and say the finding is a step to commercial production of a fuel that could one day be an alternative to fossil fuel reserves. "Although we have only produced tiny ...

Ebola Now Poses a Threat to National Security in West Africa

09/03/2014
The Ebola virus outbreak entrenched in west Africa has become a real risk to the stability and security of society in the region, the top U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said today after returning yesterday from a visit there. Failure to tamp down Ebola’s spread is stressing the ...

Human trial of experimental Ebola vaccine begins this week

09/02/2014
A highly anticipated test of an experimental Ebola vaccine will begin this week at the National Institutes of Health, amid mounting anxiety about the spread of the deadly virus in West Africa. After an expedited review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, researchers were given the green light to begin ...

MERS: Low transmissibility, dangerous illness

09/02/2014
Research led by the University of Bonn Virologists reveals transmission rate of the MERS virus The MERS coronavirus has caused disease outbreaks across the Arabian Peninsula and spread to Europe several times. The severe pneumonia virus has claimed the lives of several hundred people since its discovery in 2012. For a ...

Dandruff-Causing Skin Fungi Discovered Unexpectedly in Deep Sea Vents, Antarctica

09/02/2014
Until relatively recently, the fungus Malassezia was thought to have one favorite home: us. As the dominant fungus on human skin and sometimes-cause of dandruff, the yeast Malassezia was thought to live a simple if sometimes irritating domestic existence humbly mooching off the oils we exude. No more. Thanks to the ...

HIV Lessons from the Mississippi Baby

09/02/2014
The news in July that HIV had returned in a Mississippi toddler after a two-year treatment-free remission dashed the hopes of clinicians, HIV researchers and the public at large tantalized by the possibility of a cure. But a new commentary by two leading HIV experts at Johns Hopkins argues that despite ...

Scientists Call for Investigation of Mysterious Cloud-like Collections in Cells

09/02/2014
About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don’t know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a cell, and ...

A new way to diagnose malaria

09/02/2014
Using magnetic fields, technique can detect parasite’s waste products in infected blood cells. Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and looks under a ...

"Immortal" Cells from Henrietta Lacks Lead to Updated Rules on Genomic Data Sharing

09/02/2014
Scientists who work on genomics and are funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) must post their data online so that others can build on the information, the agency has said in an update to its guidelines. The change, which expands the remit of an earlier data-sharing policy, ...

Scientists develop ‘electronic nose’ for rapid detection of C-diff infection

09/02/2014
A fast-sensitive “electronic-nose” for sniffing the highly infectious bacteria C-diff, that causes diarrhoea, temperature and stomach cramps, has been developed by a team at the University of Leicester. Using a mass spectrometer, the research team has demonstrated that it is possible to identify the unique ‘smell’ of C-diff which would lead ...

Synthesis produces new antibiotic

08/29/2014
A fortuitous collaboration at Rice University has led to the total synthesis of a recently discovered natural antibiotic. The laboratory recreation of a fungus-derived antibiotic, viridicatumtoxin B, may someday help bolster the fight against bacteria that evolve resistance to treatments in hospitals and clinics around the world. As part of the process, ...

UTHealth researchers find up to 3,000 times the bacterial growth on hollow-head toothbrushes

08/29/2014
Solid-head power toothbrushes retain less bacteria compared to hollow-head toothbrushes, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry. The results of the study are published in the August issue of the Journal of Dental Hygiene. Lead author and professor at the UTHealth ...

Small Molecule Acts As On-Off Switch for Nature's Antibiotic Factory

08/29/2014
Scientists have identified the developmental on-off switch for Streptomyces, a group of soil microbes that produce more than two-thirds of the world's naturally derived antibiotic medicines. Their hope now would be to see whether it is possible to manipulate this switch to make nature's antibiotic factory more efficient. The study, ...

From bite site to brain: How rabies virus hijacks and speeds up transport in nerve cells

08/29/2014
Rabies is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal into muscle tissue of the new host. From there, the virus travels all the way to the brain where it multiplies and causes the usually fatal disease. A new article sheds light on how the virus hijacks the transport ...

Home is where the microbes are: Home Microbiome Project announces results of study on household microbes

08/29/2014
A person’s home is their castle, and they populate it with their own subjects: millions and millions of bacteria. A study published tomorrow in Science provides a detailed analysis of the microbes that live in houses and apartments. The study was conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne ...

Ebola genomes sequenced

08/29/2014
Speedy analysis reveals mutations, insights into outbreak, along with clues to origin, spread. Responding rapidly to the deadly outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa, a team of researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard University, working with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and researchers elsewhere, ...

Zombie bacteria are nothing to be afraid of

08/29/2014
Recently identified cell-cycle controls are targets for new drugs that fight infections by shutting down division. A cell is not a soap bubble that can simply pinch in two to reproduce. The ability to faithfully copy genetic material and distribute it equally to daughter cells is fundamental to all forms of ...

Malaria’s Clinical Symptoms Fade on Repeat Infections Due to Loss of Immune Cells

08/28/2014
Children who repeatedly become infected with malaria often experience no clinical symptoms with these subsequent infections, and a team led by UC San Francisco researchers has discovered that this might be due at least in part to a depletion of specific types of immune cells. Working in Uganda, one of the ...

Breakthrough antibacterial approach could resolve serious skin infections

08/28/2014
Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for some 80 percent of total bacterial infections ...

Gut bacteria that protect against food allergies identified

08/28/2014
Common gut bacteria prevent sensitization to allergens in a mouse model for peanut allergy, paving the way for probiotic therapies to treat food allergies. The presence of Clostridia, a common class of gut bacteria, protects against food allergies, a new study in mice finds. By inducing immune responses that prevent food ...

Ebola Doctor Reveals How Infected Americans Were Cured

08/28/2014
Last week two American aid workers who had contracted Ebola while working in west Africa were released from a U.S. hospital and pronounced “recovered.” They had been flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta from Liberia earlier this month to receive care in the hospital’s specialized infectious disease unit. Kent ...

Ebola Could Eventually Afflict Over 20,000, W.H.O. Says

08/28/2014
As the tally of deaths from the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus continued its seemingly inexorable rise, the World Health Organization said on Thursday that the epidemic was still accelerating and could afflict more than 20,000 people — almost seven times the current number of reported cases — ...

Self-Assembly For Me

08/28/2014
I have the grating feeling that the subject of self-assembly of complex biological structures may not always amass the level of respect it deserves. I reckon that its importance is generally appreciated but, as topics go, it tends at times to be set aside. Yet, this is one of the ...

The Curious Case of a Protein and a Pilus

08/25/2014
If you’re like me, every morning you reluctantly roll out of bed and automatically reach for your toothbrush. One of the earliest learned practices of personal hygiene, brushing surely serves more than just preventing daybreak halitosis — but have you ever pondered about the plaque you try to dislodge from your teeth ...

NIH Scientists Establish New Monkey Model of Severe MERS-CoV Disease (press release)

08/22/2014
National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have found that Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in marmosets closely mimics the severe pneumonia experienced by people infected with MERS-CoV, giving scientists the best animal model yet for testing potential treatments. Researchers at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ...

Experts question value of common superbug control practices

08/22/2014
The jury is still out on the effectiveness of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) superbug control policies in hospitals, according to leading infectious disease experts. In particular, screening and isolating infected patients -- which have long been regarded as the gold standard MRSA prevention strategy and are required by law in ...

Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis

08/22/2014
This video contains images of LaDuke hot spring in Gardiner, Montana, along the Yellowstone River, near Yellowstone National Park. The images show the rich mat community of chlorophototrophic bacteria that grow along the hot spring's effluent channel. The dark-green-colored organisms are mainly cyanobacteria. The Leptolyngbya cyanobacteria strain is from the ...

Viruses take down massive algal blooms, with big implications for climate

08/22/2014
Humans are increasingly dependent on algae to suck up climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sink it to the bottom of the ocean. Now, by using a combination of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, researchers have evidence showing that viruses infecting those algae are driving the life-and-death dynamics of ...

Polio: mutated virus breaches vaccine protection

08/22/2014
Thanks to effective vaccination, polio is considered nearly eradicated. Each year only a few hundred people are stricken worldwide. However, scientists are reporting alarming findings: a mutated virus that was able to resist the vaccine protection to a considerable extent was found in victims of an outbreak in the Congo ...

Dandruff-Causing Skin Fungi Discovered Unexpectedly in Deep Sea Vents, Antarctica

08/22/2014
Until relatively recently, the fungus Malassezia was thought to have one favorite home: us. As the dominant fungus on human skin and sometimes-cause of dandruff, the yeast Malassezia was thought to live a simple if sometimes irritating domestic existence humbly mooching off the oils we exude. No more. Thanks to the ...

Bacterial Nanowires: Not What We Thought They Were

08/21/2014
New videos of morphing bacteria reveal that the strange, distinguishing features of so-called “electric bacteria” aren’t quite what they at first appeared to be. For the past 10 years, scientists have been fascinated by a type of “electric bacteria” that shoots out long tendrils like electric wires, using them to power ...

Seals Brought Tuberculosis to Americas

08/21/2014
Ancient bacterial genome sequences collected from human remains in Peru suggest that seals first gave tuberculosis (TB) to humans in the Americas. Modern TB strains found in North and South America are closely related to strains from Europe, suggesting that the Spaniards introduced the disease to the New World when they ...

Life Found 800 Meters Down in Antarctic Subglacial Lake

08/21/2014
A cold breeze blew off the Antarctic plain, numbing the noses and ears of scientists standing around a dark hole in the ice. Flecks of ice crackled off a winch as it reeled the last few meters of cable out of the hole. Two workers in sterile suits leaned over ...

Experimental Vaccine For Chikungunya Passes First Test

08/20/2014
Scientists have taken the first steps to developing a vaccine for chikungunya — an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has infected more than a half million people in the Western Hemisphere this year. About 600 Americans have brought the virus to 43 states. The study was small. Only 25 people were given ...

The Discoverability Challenge – How Can We Make Research Data Easier to Find and Use?

08/20/2014
Enhancing the discoverability of public health and epidemiology research data is a key to ensuring that it gets more widely used. This was the topic of a recent workshop hosted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where researchers and data experts explored the findings of a recent ...

Microbiology: Microbiome science needs a healthy dose of scepticism

08/20/2014
Explorations of how the microscopic communities that inhabit the human body might contribute to health or disease have moved from obscure to ubiquitous. Over the past five years, studies have linked our microbial settlers to conditions as diverse as autism, cancer and diabetes. This excitement has infected the public imagination. 'We ...

Ebola crisis: A doctor's view from Sierra Leone

08/20/2014
West Africa's Ebola epidemic, the deadliest on record, presents particular challenges for medical staff. Here, Irish doctor Gabriel Fitzpatrick describes working for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) at the centre of the outbreak in Sierra Leone: MSF constructed a special Ebola treatment centre here in Kailahun that opened at the end of ...

Vaccines can cut the spread of meningitis by nearly 40 per cent

08/20/2014
Investigators at the University of Southampton have discovered that two new vaccines can prevent the transmission of meningitis bacteria from person to person. The vaccines do this by reducing ‘carriage’ of the responsible bacteria in the nose and throats of the population. Meningitis is a devastating condition and the Southampton ...

Progress in the fight against harmful fungi

08/20/2014
A group of researchers at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories has created one of the three world's largest gene libraries for the Candida glabrata yeast, which is harmful to humans. Molecular analysis of the Candida glabrata fungus mutations led to the discovery of 28 new genes that are partly responsible ...

Zombie ant fungi manipulate hosts to die on the 'doorstep' of the colony

08/19/2014
A parasitic fungus that must kill its ant hosts outside their nest to reproduce and transmit its infection, manipulates its victims to die in the vicinity of the colony, ensuring a constant supply of potential new hosts, according to researchers at Penn State and colleagues at Brazil's Federal University of ...

Farmers Fight Poisonous Wheat Fungus with Cleaning and Waiting

08/19/2014
Dave Wiechert of Nashville, Illinois, does good business most years cleaning seed for farmers in preparation for planting season. But this year, Wiechert is doing big business after harvest: cleaning fungus off wheat so farmers can sell it. The "head scab" fungus can produce vomitoxin, a chemical that is poisonous to ...

Scientists Finally Catch On to Social Media

08/19/2014
In 2011, Emmanuel Nnaemeka Nnadi needed help to sequence some drug-resistant fungal pathogens. A PhD student studying microbiology in Nigeria, he did not have the expertise and equipment he needed. So he turned to ResearchGate, a free social-networking site for academics, and fired off a few e-mails. When he got ...

New discovery: Microbes can create dripstones

08/18/2014
According to new research humble, microscopic organisms can create dripstones in caves. This illustrates how biological life can influence the formation of Earth’s geology - and the same may be happening right now on other planets in space. According to traditional textbooks dripstones are created by geological or geochemical processes with ...

In Hunt For New Antibiotics, Scientists Look At Bacteria In Insects' Stomachs

08/18/2014
Pampering leafcutter ants with fragrant rose petals and fresh oranges may seem an unlikely way to rescue modern medicine, but scientists at a lab in eastern England think it's well worth trying. As the world cries out for new antibiotics, researchers at the John Innes Center (JIC) in Norwich are also ...

A Tale of Two Strategies

08/18/2014
Bacteria are for the most part gregarious organisms, living predominantly in dense communities consisting of multiple strains. In fact, the majority of infectious bacteria occur as multi-layered structures called biofilms, many of which are composed of multiple types of bacteria. As one can imagine, neighbor relations in such complex populations ...

Harnessing the Power of Bacteria’s Sophisticated Immune System

08/15/2014
Bacteria’s ability to destroy viruses has long puzzled scientists, but researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say they now have a clear picture of the bacterial immune system and say its unique shape is likely why bacteria can so quickly recognize and destroy their assailants. The researchers ...

Treating Cancer With Bacteria Shows Real Promise

08/15/2014
n a groundbreaking study, researchers say injecting bacteria into a tumor helped shrink it. Bacteria are generally considered more foe than friend, but that may change, if results from a pioneering study are confirmed. Reporting in the journal Science Translational Medicine, scientists led by Dr. Saurabh Saha, a cancer researcher at biotech ...

Early antibiotic exposure leads to lifelong metabolic disturbances in mice

08/15/2014
Antibiotic exposure during a critical window of early development disrupts the bacterial landscape of the gut, home to trillions of diverse microbes, and permanently reprograms the body’s metabolism, setting up a predisposition to obesity, according to a new study. Moreover, the research shows that it is altered gut bacteria, rather ...

Ebola Protein Blocks Early Step in Body’s Counterattack on Virus

08/14/2014
One of the human body’s first responses to a viral infection is to make and release signaling proteins called interferons, which amplify the immune system response to viruses. Over time, many viruses have evolved to undermine interferon’s immune-boosting signal, and a new study describes a mechanism unique to the Ebola ...

Gut Flora Influences HIV Immune Response

08/14/2014
Normal microorganisms in the intestines appear to play a pivotal role in how the HIV virus foils a successful attack from the body’s immune system, according to new research from Duke Medicine. The study, published Aug. 13, 2014, in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, builds on previous work from researchers ...

Scientists boost potential of passive immunization against HIV

08/14/2014
Scientists are pursuing injections or intravenous infusions of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies (bNAbs) as a strategy for preventing HIV infection. This technique, called passive immunization, has been shown to protect monkeys from a monkey form of HIV called simian human immunodeficiency virus, or SHIV. To make passive immunization a widely ...

Mouth Bacteria Can Change Its Diet, Supercomputers Reveal

08/14/2014
Bacteria inside your mouth drastically change how they act when you're diseased, according to research using supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Scientists say these surprising findings might lead to better ways to prevent or even reverse the gum disease periodontitis, diabetes, and Crohn's disease. Marvin Whiteley, professor of ...

Pictures Considered #19. The Basal End of Bacterial Flagella

08/14/2014
The end of bacterial flagella that is near the cell is a marvel of mechanical miniaturization — a molecular wheel that turns, just like the axle of a car. The assembly consists of a stator, the part that holds it in place, and a rotor, the part that turns. The rotor ...

Asian Tiger Mosquito Could Expand Painful Caribbean Virus into U.S.

08/13/2014
Rapid expansion of this species, which is more aggressive than the species that is now spreading chikungunya into the Caribbean, is worrying scientists. In the past few months, passengers at North American airports have been warned that travel to the Caribbean might result in an unwanted souvenir. The first outbreak of ...

Graphic Warnings: Ebola Posters Keep The Virus On People's Minds

08/13/2014
The campaign is called "Kick Back Ebola." But the posters pack a punch. Sierra Leone has reported over 700 suspected Ebola cases, more than any other country this year. To help stop the outbreak, health workers have put up Ebola awareness signs all over Sierra Leone's seaside capital of Freetown. Posters are ...

Preemies’ gut bacteria may depend more on gestational age than environment​

08/12/2014
Scientists believe babies are born with digestive systems containing few or no bacteria. Their guts then quickly become colonized by microbes — good and bad — as they nurse or take bottles, receive medication and even as they are passed from one adoring relative to another. However, in infants born prematurely, ...

The viruses that spread antibiotic resistance

08/12/2014
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria, and in the great war between humans and pathogenic bacteria they can act as allies for both sides. Phages that destroy their host bacteria can be used as antimicrobial therapy, complementing or replacing antibiotics. On the other hand as phages are essentially little capsules ...

Highly Drug Resistant, Virulent, Strain of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Arises in Ohio (press release)

08/12/2014
A team of clinician researchers has discovered a highly virulent, multidrug resistant form of the pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in patient samples in Ohio. Their investigation suggests that the particular genetic element involved, which is still rare in the United States, has been spreading heretofore unnoticed, and that surveillance is urgently ...

Elusive viral 'machine' architecture finally rendered

08/12/2014
Biologists have worked with the Lambda virus as a model system for more than 50 years but they've never had an overarching picture of the molecular machines that allow it to insert or remove DNA from the cells that it infects. Now they can, thanks to an advance that highlights ...

Native bacteria block Wolbachia from being passed to mosquito progeny

08/12/2014
Native bacteria living inside mosquitoes prevent the insects from passing Wolbachia bacteria -- which can make the mosquitoes resistant to the malaria parasite -- to their offspring, according to a team of researchers. The team found that Asaia, a type of bacteria that occurs naturally in Anopheles mosquitoes, blocks invasion of ...

‘Wormy’ Pills Might Fend Off Autoimmune Diseases

08/12/2014
Scientists have identified peptides from parasitic hookworms that can calm the body’s immune response and perhaps pave the way to treat autoimmune diseases. Experts believe the peptide molecules could help explain why worm infections can effectively treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. Click "source" to read more.

Should experimental drugs be used in the Ebola outbreak?

08/12/2014
Risks and benefits of unproven treatments, as World Health Organization approves use in crisis. Two Liberian doctors are set to become the first Africans to receive an experimental drug against the Ebola virus. The news comes as the World Health Organization concludes that it is ethical to use unproven treatments in ...

Wild sheep show benefits of putting up with parasites

08/11/2014
In the first evidence that natural selection favors an individual's infection tolerance, researchers from Princeton University and the University of Edinburgh have found that an animal's ability to endure an internal parasite strongly influences its reproductive success. Reported in the journal PLoS Biology, the finding could provide the groundwork for ...

Like cling wrap, new biomaterial can coat tricky burn wounds and block out infection

08/11/2014
Wrapping wound dressings around fingers and toes can be tricky, but for burn victims, guarding them against infection is critical. Today, scientists are reporting the development of novel, ultrathin coatings called nanosheets that can cling to the body’s most difficult-to-protect contours and keep bacteria at bay. The researchers are speaking about ...

Editing HPV's Genes To Kill Cervical Cancer Cells

08/11/2014
Researchers have hijacked a defense system normally used by bacteria to fend off viral infections and redirected it against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical, head and neck, and other cancers. Using the genome editing tool known as CRISPR, the Duke University researchers were able to selectively destroy ...

The typhoid fever pathogen uses a cloaking mechanism to evade neutrophil neutralization

08/11/2014
Typhoid fever is caused by systemic infection with Salmonella enterica Typhi. In contrast, infection with the closely related bacterium Salmonella enterica Thyphimurium is usually limited to the gut and causes less serious diarrheal disease. Research comparing the two pathogens reveals how S. Typhi avoids recognition and elimination by patrolling immune ...

Oddly Microbial: Selfish Genes*

08/11/2014
Evolution is largely driven by conflict, not collaboration, according to cell evolutionist Harmit Malik at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). Mammalian cells are contentious places, he explains, populated by alien and host genomic sequences fighting for dominance. "In the competition between one gene faction and another, the side ...

Scientists hope bacterial blueprints will soon give doctors and nurses fewer sleepless nights

08/08/2014
One of the most common types of bacterial infection might soon give doctors and nurses fewer sleepless nights, thanks to a discovery made by scientists at Trinity College Dublin. The scientists used X-ray crystallography techniques to provide a blueprint of the cellular machinery used by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. They now hope ...

Ebola declared a public health emergency

08/08/2014
World Health Organization announcement could shift focus to basic public health. The escalating Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses an international threat and all countries must work together to contain it, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today (8 August). The announcement comes amid a debate over the use of experimental ...

Trapped: Cell-invading piece of virus captured in lab by scientists

08/08/2014
Scientists try to stay a step ahead of HIV in order to combat drug resistance and to develop better treatments. When a person is infected with HIV, there is an initial burst of virus production. This is when integrase inserts the virus DNA into many human cells, including CD4 T-immune ...

Gut Microbes Browse Along a Gene Buffet

08/08/2014
In the moist, dark microbial rainforest of the intestine, hundreds of species of microorganisms interact with each other and with the cells of the host animal to get the resources they need to survive and thrive. Though there's a lot of competition in this vibrant ecosystem, collaboration is valued too. ...

Biomotor discovered in many bacteria and viruses

08/08/2014
Nano-biotechnologists have reported the discovery of a new, third class of biomotor, unique in that it uses a "revolution without rotation" mechanism. These revolution biomotors are widespread among many bacteria and viruses. Click "source" to read more.

It’s Funnier When You’re Right

08/08/2014
The mystery of alcoholic fermentations was uncovered in the first half of the 19th century by Cagniard-Latour (1837) in France, and Schwann (1837) and Kützing (1837) in Germany, based on microscopic studies but not without controversy. The great German organic chemist Justus Liebig did not like the idea that alcoholic ...

The Ebola Outbreak: 'A Dress Rehearsal For The Next Big One'

08/06/2014
Until this year, the world had recorded 1,640 deaths from Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976. Then Ebola appeared in West Africa. So far this year, 887 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Monday. To put that into perspective, more than a third of ...

Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads Across Southeast Asia

08/06/2014
Back in 2008, doctors in Cambodia made a worrisome discovery. They were having a hard time curing some people of malaria. Even the most powerful drug wasn't clearing out the parasite from patients' blood as quickly as it should. Malaria had evolved resistance to the last medicine we have against it, ...

Experimental Medicine in a Time of Ebola

08/06/2014
As the deadly outbreak of Ebola in West Africa continues to claim lives, Wellcome Trust director Dr Jeremy Farrar calls for Africans to be given access to experimental Ebola medication. This joint statement with Prof David Heymann, head of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, and Prof Peter ...

Common tuberculosis vaccine can be used to prevent infection as well as disease

08/06/2014
The vaccine used to protect against tuberculosis disease, bacillus calmette-guerin or BCG, also protects against tuberculosis infection, mycobacterium, as well as protecting against progression from infection to disease, finds new research. The BCG vaccine has been subject to numerous trials and studies over several decades, which have shown that it ...

A Symbiont Betrays Its Host

08/06/2014
It came as a surprise to me recently to realize how much is known about the immune responses of plants and, moreover, how much there is to know. There is, I found, detailed molecular information about how our botanical cousins defend themselves against the onslaught of infectious agents. Perhaps most ...

Eye of Science - Scientific photography

08/01/2014
Beautiful scanning electron microscopy images. "For 2 decades we have been devoting our work to the visualization of the previously unknown and invisible. Detailed, aesthetic, and scientifically correct we present an access into the microscopic world of biology, medicine, chemistry, technology, and our environment. Photo design for science. Micro-photography for advertising. ...

What’s wiping out the Caribbean corals?

08/01/2014
Here’s what we know about white-​​band dis­ease: It has already killed up to 95 per­cent of the Caribbean’s reef-​​building elkhorn and staghorn corals, and it’s caused by an infec­tious bac­teria that seems to be trans­mitted through the water and by coral-​​eating snails. Here’s what we don’t know: every­thing else. But two student-​​researchers ...

Beating bad bacteria

08/01/2014
Wake Forest sophomore receives prestigious award to study dangerous bacteria. The notion that trillions of bacteria are packed into the human body is enough to give anyone the heebie jeebies. But not all bacteria are bad, said Hannah Martin, a rising sophomore. On the contrary, there are many types of good ...

Ebola Outbreak “Worsening” in West Africa

08/01/2014
The Ebola outbreak continues to roil West Africa, with the World Health Organization announcing Thursday that the death toll has climbed to 729 in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 1,300 people are infected. To help limit the spread of the disease the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ...

Researchers uncover clues to flu’s mechanisms

08/01/2014
A flu virus acts like a Trojan horse as it attacks and infects host cells. Scientists at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have acquired a clearer view of the well-hidden mechanism involved. Their computer simulations may lead to new strategies to stop influenza, perhaps even a one-size-fits-all vaccine. The discovery ...

Microscopic rowing – without a cox

07/30/2014
New research shows that the whip-like appendages on many types of cells are able to synchronise their movements solely through interactions with the fluid that surrounds them. Many different types of cell, including sperm, bacteria and algae, propel themselves using whip-like appendages known as flagella. These protrusions, about one-hundredth of ...

Diet Affects Men’s and Women’s Gut Microbes Differently

07/30/2014
The microbes living in the guts of males and females react differently to diet, even when the diets are identical, according to a study by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and six other institutions published this week in the journal Nature Communications. These results suggest that therapies ...

When Will We Have a Vaccine for Ebola Virus?

07/30/2014
The latest outbreak of Ebola virus in west Africa is the worst ever—as of Monday, it had infected more than 1,200 people and claimed at least 672 victims since this spring. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone all have confirmed cases. An official at Doctors Without Borders has declared the outbreak ...

Mystery Flipper Revealed

07/30/2014
New understanding of how bacteria build their protective cell wall solves persistent puzzler. Using a series of chemical and genetic tricks to interrogate a dizzying cast of characters involved in the process of building a cell wall, researchers believe they have discovered the hidden identity of a key enzyme involved in ...

New Research Suggests Saharan Dust is Key to the Formation of Bahamas’ Great Bank

07/28/2014
A new study suggests that Saharan dust played a major role in the formation of the Bahamas islands. Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science showed that iron-rich Saharan dust provides the nutrients necessary for specialized bacteria to produce the island chain’s carbonate-based ...

Novel Virus Discovered in Half the World's Population

07/28/2014
SDSU virologists and biologists have identified a highly abundant, never-before-described virus that could play a major role in obesity, diabetes. Odds are, there’s a virus living inside your gut that has gone undetected by scientists for decades. A new study led by researchers at San Diego State University has found that ...

Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

07/28/2014
For the first time, Spanish researchers have detected an unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water and is left to dry, bacteria manipulate the sodium chloride crystallisation to create biomineralogical biosaline 3D morphologically complex formations, where they hibernate. Afterwards, ...

Researchers eliminate HIV from cultured human cells for first time

07/28/2014
HIV-1, the most common type of the virus that causes AIDS, has proved to be tenacious, inserting its genome permanently into its victims' DNA, forcing patients to take a lifelong drug regimen to control the virus and prevent a fresh attack. Now, a team of researchers has designed a way ...

The Hunt for Antibiotic-Resistance Hotspots

07/28/2014
When patients take too many unnecessary antibiotics it inches us ever closer to a world where essential drugs are no longer effective. More than two million people in the United States develop antibiotic resistant infection each year and some 23,000 of them die as a result. Yet understanding the origins ...

Sauerkraut: bacteria making food

07/28/2014
Last week my husband needed some jars for cooking purposes. Tesco sell jars for somewhere around £3 each. However they also sell large jars full of sauerkraut for £1 each. Which means that last weekend we had an awful lot of sauerkraut to try and get through. I’m not a great ...

Second American infected with Ebola

07/28/2014
A second American aid worker in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola, according to the Christian humanitarian group she works for. Nancy Writebol is employed by Serving in Mission, or SIM, in Liberia and was helping the joint SIM/Samaritan's Purse team that is treating Ebola patients in Monrovia, according to a ...

Esther Lederberg, Pioneer of Bacterial Genetics

07/28/2014
“She did pioneering work in genetics, but it was her husband who won a Nobel price.” So said an obituary in the British newspaper The Guardian regarding Esther Lederberg, a North American microbiologist married to Joshua Lederberg from 1946 to 1966 [8]. Being married to and working along such ...

Diseases of Another Kind

07/24/2014
The drought that has the entire country in its grip is affecting more than the color of people’s lawns. It may also be responsible for the proliferation of a heat-loving amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, which the drought has made warmer ...

New research from Africa on pharmacomicrobiomics

07/24/2014
The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) is a global initiative to identify and characterize the microorganisms present at multiple sites in the human body. An international team of researchers reports on new ways to harness the results of the HMP and discusses how changes in the microbiome might affect human health, ...

Herbivore drool defeats fungal defence

07/24/2014
A report in Biology Letters shows that the drool of herbivores might help defeat the toxic fungal defences of the plants they graze on. Grazing or cutting some plants induces a noxious chemical to be produced which deters hungry plant-eaters from revisiting them. The chemicals, called alkaloids, are produced by fungi ...

Bacteria swim with bodies and flagella

07/24/2014
Using a new technique to track the swimming motion of a single bacterium, researchers have discovered that the movement of the bacterium’s body — not just thrust from the flagellum — allow movement through fluids. The finding could shed new light on the evolution of cell body shape. Click "source" to ...

Yellow Light Grows the Best Algae for Biofuels

07/24/2014
Aaron Wheeler is the director of an interdisciplinary research group at the University of Toronto in Canada. The group develop lab-on-a-chip techniques for applications in biology, chemistry and medicine. You recently reported an exciting technique that can screen algae grown under different wavelengths with the aim of generating more efficient biofuels. ...

Microbial to Human Cell Ratio: Just Bragging Rights?

07/24/2014
Microbiota buffs repeat it often these days, proudly reminding the public that the microbial cells associated with humans outnumber their host cells by a ratio of ten-to-one. In his letter in the February 2014 Microbe, however, Judah L. Rosner of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes a strong case ...

Drug Combo Can Sure Hepatitis C in Patients With HIV

07/23/2014
A new combination drug therapy cures chronic hepatitis C in most patients also infected with HIV—and without the side effects of current treatments. The advance is important, researchers say, because about a third of HIV patients in the United States also have hepatitis C. There are an estimated 7 million co-infected ...

Ancient genetic material from caries bacterium obtained for the first time

07/23/2014
A UAB research concludes that the Streptococcus mutans, one of the principal bacteria causing dental caries, has increased the changes in its genetic material over time, possibly coinciding with dietary changes linked to the expansion of humanity. Click "source" to read more.

Land of the bacteria-eaters

07/23/2014
For hospital workers an outbreak of harmful bacteria in the wards is a nightmare, but what gives bacteria nightmares? Perhaps the prospect of being eaten alive by a kind of viral parasite called a bacteriophage (bacteria eater): unlike antibiotics, which some bacteria have evolved a resistance to, bacteriophages are alive and ...

Viral relics show cancer's 'footprint' on our evolution

07/23/2014
Cancer has left its 'footprint' on our evolution, according to a study which examined how the relics of ancient viruses are preserved in the genomes of 38 mammal species. Viral relics are evidence of the ancient battles our genes have fought against infection. Occasionally the retroviruses that infect an animal get ...

Study examines therapeutic bacteria’s ability to prevent obesity

07/23/2014
A probiotic that prevents obesity could be on the horizon. Bacteria that produce a therapeutic compound in the gut inhibit weight gain, insulin resistance and other adverse effects of a high-fat diet in mice, Vanderbilt University investigators have discovered. “Of course it’s hard to speculate from mouse to human,” said senior investigator ...

Untapped Plant Microbiome Could Help Feed Billions

07/23/2014
The Human Microbiome Project revealed tens of trillions of microbes residing in and on humans. Now scientists are taking a census of plant microbes—and not just the hundreds of billions found in soils. Distinct microbial communities live inside roots, on leaves and within flowers, and all in all have an ...

Researchers Find New Way to Kick Out HIV From Infected Cells

07/22/2014
The technique addresses the problem of hidden reservoirs of HIV in the body, and could herald a new way of battling the viral infection. Once HIV invades the body, it doesn’t want to leave. Every strategy that scientists have developed or are developing so far to fight the virus – from ...

U.K. Supermarket To Run On Electricity Made From Its Own Rotting Food

07/22/2014
The joys of anaerobic digestion One U.K. grocery store plans to power itself using biogas harvested from its own unsold, rotting produce. Yum. A Sainsbury's store in Cannock in central England is getting access to anaerobic digesters. The store plans to use electricity solely from the digesters, taking no electricity from the ...

HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis: Success of the Millennium shown in most comprehensive study to date

07/22/2014
Accelerated progress against the global burden of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis (TB) has been made since 2000 when governments worldwide adopted Millennium Development Goal 6 to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB. New estimates from a major new analysis show that worldwide, the number of people living with HIV has risen ...

More than glitter: Scientists explain how gold nanoparticles easily penetrate cells, making them useful for delivering drugs

07/22/2014
A special class of tiny gold particles can easily slip through cell membranes, making them good candidates to deliver drugs directly to target cells. A new study from MIT materials scientists reveals that these nanoparticles enter cells by taking advantage of a route normally used in vesicle-vesicle fusion, a crucial process ...

MERS virus detected in air samples from Saudi camel barn

07/22/2014
Saudi scientists have found gene fragments of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in air from a barn housing an infected camel and say this suggests the disease may be transmitted through the air. MERS, a serious respiratory illness caused by a virus known as a coronavirus (CoV), has ...

Molecular Computer Detects Ebola and Marburg Viruses

07/21/2014
Material from deadly pathogens triggers alerts directly, and could speed detection. Early detection is key to slowing outbreaks of Ebola, such as the one currently spreading across west Africa that is estimated to have infected almost 1000 people, according to the latest World Health Organization report. A molecular computer could ...

Urease: an anti-microbial target in bacteria and fungi

07/21/2014
Urea is a small molecule formed as proteins are broken down. It’s excreted in urine, but isn’t particularly toxic at low levels so it’s found in cells throughout the body. The molecular structure of urea is below, and as it contains nitrogen (N) several pathogens have adapted to use it ...

When the Microbe Hits the Metal

07/21/2014
Some heavy metals share a long history with microbes. Many of the metabolic processes that sustain life are believed to have originated from spontaneous reactions involving metals present in the early Earth. Our microbial ancestors figured out quickly how to use those metal catalysts to generate energy and make cellular ...

First local case of tropical disease chikungunya debuts in the U.S.

07/18/2014
The day we knew would come is finally here. The first locally acquired case of the tropical disease chikungunya was reported in the U.S. today. The mosquito-borne viral disease first debuted in the Western Hemisphere last year and has since sprawled across the Caribbean, with cases in Puerto Rico and U.S. ...

Poor Oversight Catches Up with High-Security Infectious Agent and Disease Labs

07/18/2014
The Centers for Disease Control plans to take measures to better protect lab workers and the rest of us from dangerous biological samples. Twenty-one dead lab chickens piled up this spring at a government facility before its researchers could pinpoint why. The team had requested and received what was meant to ...

GW Researcher Unlocks Next Step in Creating HIV-1 Immunotherapy Using Fossil Virus

07/18/2014
The road to finding a cure for HIV-1 is not without obstacles. However, thanks to cutting-edge research by Douglas Nixon, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues, performed at the George Washington University (GW), Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Rochester, and UC San Francisco, the scientific community is one step ...

Choosing cheese: Research identifies microbial communities in cheese

07/18/2014
After studying 137 varieties of cheese collected in 10 different countries, researchers have been able to identify three general types of microbial communities that live on cheese, opening the door to using each as a 'model' community for the study of whether and how various microbes and fungi compete or ...

Oregon geologist says Curiosity's images show Earth-like soils on Mars

07/18/2014
Soil deep in a crater dating to some 3.7 billion years ago contains evidence that Mars was once much warmer and wetter, says University of Oregon geologist Gregory Retallack, based on images and data captured by the rover Curiosity. NASA rovers have shown Martian landscapes littered with loose rocks from impacts ...

The virus detective who discovered Ebola in 1976

07/18/2014
Nearly 40 years ago, a young Belgian scientist travelled to a remote part of the Congolese rainforest - his task was to help find out why so many people were dying from an unknown and terrifying disease. In September 1976, a package containing a shiny, blue thermos flask arrived at the ...

ULTRASMALL BACTERIA FROM ANTARCTIC LAKE RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LIMITS OF LIFE

07/18/2014
Imagine you were forced to live in perpetually subzero temperatures, with no oxygen, no light, and way more salt than your system could handle. How would you manage? One way might be to get extremely small. At least, that seems to be what’s happening in a frozen Antarctic lake that’s ...

The U.S. Neglects Its Best Science Students

07/17/2014
The U.S. education policy world—the entire country, for that matter—is on a quest to increase the ranks of future innovators in science and technology. Yet the programs that get funded in K–12 education do not support students who are already good at and in love with science. These students have ...

Scientists find way to trap, kill malaria parasite

07/17/2014
Scientists may be able to entomb the malaria parasite in a prison of its own making, researchers report. As it invades a red blood cell, the malaria parasite takes part of the host cell's membrane to build a protective compartment. The parasite then starts a series of major renovations that ...

Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy

07/17/2014
Unlike any other life on Earth, these extraordinary bacteria use energy in its purest form – they eat and breathe electrons – and they are everywhere STICK an electrode in the ground, pump electrons down it, and they will come: living cells that eat electricity. We have known bacteria to survive ...

‘Tis the Season to be Sweating

07/17/2014
This is the time of the year of increased physical activity when we pay special attention to certain parts of the body, including the armpit. As is usually the case, our microbiota is involved because the odor associated with sweating is produced by microbial activity. The main culprits are skin ...

Likely origin of lung fungus invading Pacific Northwest found by study

07/16/2014
Cryptococcus gattii, a virulent fungus that has invaded the Pacific Northwest, is highly adaptive and warrants global "public health vigilance," according to a study by an international team of researchers. C. gattii, which likely originated in Brazil, is responsible for dozens of deaths in recent years since it was first ...

Ötzi's non-human DNA: Opportunistic pathogen discovered in Iceman tissue biopsy

07/16/2014
EURAC and University of Vienna discover an opportunistic pathogen in an Iceman tissue biopsy Ötzi’s human genome was decoded from a hip bone sample taken from the 5,300 year old mummy. However the tiny sample weighing no more than 0.1 g provides so much more information. A team of scientists from ...

Protein's "hands" enable bacteria to establish infection, research finds

07/16/2014
When it comes to infecting humans and animals, bacteria need a helping hand. Kansas State University biochemists have found the helping hand: groups of tiny protein loops on the surface of cells. These loops are similar to the fingers of a hand, and by observing seven individual loops on the surface ...

Evolutionary origins of plant/bacteria symbiosis

07/16/2014
The symbiosis between some plant species and nitrogen-fixing nodule bacteria is one of the most relevant cooperative relationships in the world. It shapes our global vegetation and, not least, the global nitrogen and carbon cycle. The foundations for this process were probably laid in just one evolutionary event around 100 ...

The Leader of the Smallpox Eradication Effort Speaks About the Virus’ Rediscovery

07/15/2014
Those of us who write about infectious diseases faced a conundrum last week, when the news broke that 60-year-old vials containing viable smallpox virus had been found on the National Institutes of Health campus. A responsible reporter always wants to talk to the experts in any subject. But when it ...

Sizing up bacteria

07/15/2014
A new theoretical framework outlined by a Harvard scientist could help solve the mystery of how bacterial cells coordinate processes that are critical to cellular division, such as DNA replication, and how bacteria know when to divide. For decades, scientists have believed that cellular division is triggered when bacterial cells reach ...

We Are Our Bacteria

07/15/2014
We may think of ourselves as just human, but we’re really a mass of microorganisms housed in a human shell. Every person alive is host to about 100 trillion bacterial cells. They outnumber human cells 10 to one and account for 99.9 percent of the unique genes in the body. Katrina ...

Animating the Inanimate

07/14/2014
Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world, with untold amounts being produced yearly. It has always been regarded as a strong, solid, impenetrable, almost indestructible material yet it can make cracks that are vulnerable to penetration by water. As the result, structures of great economic ...

Ebola 101: The Facts Behind A Frightening Virus

07/11/2014
Health workers have called the Ebola outbreak in West Africa unprecedented, overwhelming and even out of control. With 844 cases so far, it's the largest and deadliest outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. And it doesn't show signs of slowing down. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization reported 50 ...
07/11/2014
Researchers from the University of Southern California and the Oak Crest Institute of Science have discovered the link between antibiotics and bacterial biofilm formation leading to chronic lung, sinus and ear infections. The study results, published in the current issue of PLOS ONE, illustrate how bacterial biofilms can actually thrive, ...

Bacterial Respiratory Tract Colonization Prior to Catching the Flu May Protect Against Severe Illness

07/11/2014
Many studies have shown that more severe illness and even death are likely to result if you develop a secondary respiratory infection after developing influenza. Now, however, a team of researchers based at The Wistar Institute has determined that if you reverse the order of infection, the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae ...

LEGO Reveals Female Scientist Minifigures

07/11/2014
After much rejoicing at the news last month that LEGO would mass-produce a set of female scientist minifigures, the company has released a prototype of the final set to its original designer, Ellen Kooijman (a.k.a. Alatariel Elensar), who recently posted images of the box and individual parts on her blog. Kooijman, ...

HIV detected in “cured” Mississippi Baby, Creating Huge AIDS Therapy Setback

07/11/2014
Disappointed federal officials today announced that the “Mississippi baby,” thought to have been cured of HIV with an aggressive treatment regimen, now has detectable levels of virus. The sad news, upsetting for the family of the 46-month-old girl, also dashed the hopes of clinicians who believed a cure for babies ...

Bacteria: A day in the life

07/11/2014
MIT study finds ocean bacteria follow predictable patterns of daily activity. We are all creatures of habit, and a new MIT study finds ocean bacteria are no exception. In a paper published this week in Science, researchers from MIT and elsewhere report that microbes in the open ocean follow predictable patterns of ...

Can a DNA Test for HPV Replace the Pap Smear?

07/10/2014
A new test for HPV has been cleared as way to screen for cervical cancer, but doctors are concerned that it doesn't do enough to protect younger women. By its name alone, the Pap smear sounds like an uncomfortable procedure. Say it aloud: Pap smear. And it’s not too pretty to ...

Sugar Protects Cells from Bacterial Invasion

07/10/2014
No admission for bacteria: Scientists from the University of Freiburg have succeeded in preventing Pseudomonas bacteria from entering host cells with the help of a sugar complex. Dr. Thorsten Eierhoff and junior professor Dr. Winfried Römer from the Institute of Biologie II, both members of the Cluster of Excellence BIOSS ...

An Exquisite Ode to Bacteria, Painstakingly Carved in Paper

07/10/2014
A few years back Rogan Brown moved from London to a remote region of France. “It was an overwhelming experience,” he says, “and as an artist I was looking for a way to come to terms with my new environment.” Landscape painting seemed too staid, so he started trying to ...

Pictures Considered #18. Pictures of Shigella by Shiga

07/10/2014
The journal Zentralblatt für Bakteriologie, Parasitenkunde u. Infektionskrankheiten was one of the leading publication in the early days of Microbiology. Many of the great discoveries of microbial pathogens were published therein. An example is the 1898 Japanese microbiologist Kiyoshi Shiga account of his discovery of his eponymous bacterium (Zentralbl. Bakteriol. ...

Fungus in yogurt outbreak poses threat to consumers

07/09/2014
The fungus responsible for an outbreak of contaminated Greek yogurt last year is not harmless after all but a strain with the ability to cause disease, according to research. "When people think about food-borne pathogens, normally they list bacteria, viruses, and maybe parasites. Fungal pathogens are not considered as food-borne ...

Bacterial switches in the human gut pave way for therapeutic manipulation

07/09/2014
The microbial ecosystem in the human gut can switch from one stable state into another, without staying for a long time in between. Key groups of bacteria tend to be either nearly absent, or relatively abundant in any given individual. This discovery highlights fundamental organizing principles of the intestinal ecosystem ...

Mollusk parasite culturing methods drive research

07/09/2014
Researchers at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences dug into the last 70 years of peer-reviewed publications about protozoan parasites that infest bivalve mollusks and found that when an organism can be cultured in the laboratory, more papers and greater understanding result. Senior Research Scientists, José Fernández Robledo and Nicholas ...

Ebola outbreak: 25 more deaths confirmed in West Africa

07/09/2014
Health officials in West Africa say 25 more people have died from Ebola since 3 July, taking the total number of deaths to 518. The World Health Organization (WHO) said 50 new cases of the deadly disease had also been reported. A WHO spokesman said health workers were struggling to contain the ...

Malaria control: The great mosquito hunt

07/09/2014
The armed guards at Mali's Bamako Senou International Airport had never seen a German shepherd before. The only dogs they were familiar with were the small, scrappy mixed breeds that are common in West Africa. So when Dana, a wolf-like purebred from California, stepped off a plane and into the ...

Incidence of childhood tuberculosis could be 25 percent higher than previous estimates

07/09/2014
New estimates indicate that over 650,000 children develop tuberculosis (TB) every year in the 22 countries with a high burden of the disease -- almost 25 percent higher than the total number of new cases worldwide estimated by WHO in 2012. The research also suggests that about 15 million children ...

New Gut Bacteria Finding Could Be Key To Diabetes, Antibiotic Crisis

07/08/2014
A team of Chinese and Danish researchers has identified 500 new species of gut-residing microorganisms and 800 new bacterial viruses which could attack them. The findings could lead to promising new treatments and possibly circumvent the current crisis of antimicrobial resistance. Using a technique they developed for analyzing DNA sequence data, ...

Ocean microbes display a hidden talent: releasing countless tiny lipid-filled sacs

07/08/2014
In the search for a renewable energy source, systems using algae look like a good bet. Algae can grow quickly and in high concentrations in areas unsuitable for agriculture; and as they grow, they accumulate large quantities of lipids, carbon-containing molecules that can be extracted and converted into biodiesel and ...

Calcium makes for an environmentally friendly pickle

07/08/2014
George Washington had a collection of 476 kinds of pickles. To prevent scurvy, Christopher Columbus stocked pickles on the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Julius Caesar, believing pickles to be invigorating, added them to the Roman legions' diet. In 5000 BCE, the Babylonians were known for pickling with date palm ...

COULD MAGNETIC BACTERIA BE THE NEXT GENERATION OF MICROBOTS?

07/08/2014
The cutting edge of robotics may not be a smarter Siri or a less-creepy humanoid Japanese robot. It might be a swarm of bacteria, compelled to do our bidding through a remotely controlled magnetic field. Some of the biggest technological advances of the past two decades have involved scaling things down. ...

Cell Discovery Could Lead to Strep Throat Vaccine

07/07/2014
A new study clarifies how Group A Streptococcus (strep) bacteria resist the human immune system. The research could eventually lead to the development of a safe vaccine against strep throat, necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), and rheumatic heart disease. Previous efforts to develop a strep throat vaccine had resulted in immune system reactions ...

Chikun-What? A New Mosquito-Borne Virus Lands In The U.S.

07/07/2014
Pediatrician Jennifer Halverson will never forget her 36th birthday. The St. Paul native was volunteering at a maternity clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She felt great — she went to her job that day and then out to dinner with friends. But when she got home and went to sleep that night in ...

A Possible Solution to Toilet Stink in China

07/07/2014
Using public toilets in China can often be a challenging undertaking, particularly for those not practiced in the art of squatting. But researchers in China have come up with a new technology that they say can help eliminate one of the most noxious of problems to plague China’s public lavatories: ...

Host genetics can contribute to lung damage in severe tuberculosis

07/07/2014
A third of the global population is infected with the bacterial pathogen that causes tuberculosis. Most carriers control the infection and are asymptomatic, but severe forms of the disease kill over a million people every year. A new article now identifies a factor made by the host that exacerbates lung ...

Will Wolbachia help defeat dengue?

07/07/2014
One of the Wellcome Trust’s areas of focus for research funding is combatting infectious disease. We have recently agreed a strategic award of over £7.5 million to continue development of an effective and sustainable approach to reducing the transmission of dengue fever. The research is an international collaboration and ...

Plant Pathogen Silences Host’s Immune Genes

07/07/2014
As more and more information becomes available, one marvels (and also frets) at the sophisticated strategies that pathogens have evolved in order to evade their hosts’ defense mechanisms. Many pathogens of plants and animals deliver effectors into their hosts in order to suppress immune responses. To date, the vast majority ...

Foodborne bacteria can cause disease in some breeds of chickens after all

07/01/2014
Contrary to popular belief, the foodborne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is not a harmless commensal in chickens but can cause disease in some breeds of poultry according to research. Campylobacter jejuni is the most frequent cause of foodborne bacterial gastroenteritis in the world and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ...

Human Protein Cleans Bacteria from Drinking Water

07/01/2014
Researchers in Japan have shown that they can remove Escherichia coli from drinking water using tiny tubes made of human serum albumin. E. coli is a very common type of bacteria, many strains of which are harmless. Some strains, however, such as enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157, are life-threatening to humans. This ...

MALARIA MAKES ITS HOST SMELL BETTER TO MOSQUITOES

07/01/2014
Malaria parasites can change their host’s scent to attract mosquitos and spread their offspring, report researchers, who say the scent change could be used as a diagnostic tool. “Malaria-infected mice are more attractive to mosquitos than uninfected mice,” says Mark Mescher, associate professor of entomology at Penn State. “They are the ...

New analysis of 'swine flu' pandemic conflicts with accepted views on how diseases spread

07/01/2014
The most detailed analysis to date of the spread of the H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza virus, known informally as ‘swine flu’, has found that short-range travel was likely the primary driver for the 2009 pandemic in the United States, in contrast with popularly accepted views on the way diseases spread. The ...

Scientists Show That Bacteria Can Evolve a Biological Timer to Survive Antibiotic Treatments

06/30/2014
The ability of microorganisms to overcome antibiotic treatments is one of the top concerns of modern medicine. The effectiveness of many antibiotics has been reduced by bacteria's ability to rapidly evolve and develop strategies to resist antibiotics. Bacteria achieve this by specific mechanisms that are tailored to the molecular structure ...

Guo Lab Reports Finding of Revolution Biomotors in Many Bacteria and Viruses

06/30/2014
Scientists at the University of Kentucky, led by nano-biotechnologist Peixuan Guo, have made some critical discoveries over the past year into the operation of biomotors, the molecular machines used by viruses and bacteria in the packaging of DNA. Biomotors function similarly to mechanical motors but on a nano-scale. Last year, Guo's ...

Research may yield new ways to treat antibiotic-resistant TB

06/30/2014
Scientists in the United States and India have successfully modified the precursor to one of the drugs used to treat tuberculosis, an important first step toward new drugs that can transcend antibiotic resistance issues that experts consider a serious threat to global health. The findings, reported in the Journal of Biological ...

Fighting parasitic infection inadvertently unleashes dormant virus

06/30/2014
Signals from the immune system that help repel a common parasite inadvertently can cause a dormant viral infection to become active again, a new study shows. Further research is necessary to understand the clinical significance of the finding, but researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said the ...

How deadly lassa virus infects cells

06/30/2014
The Lassa virus, endemic to West Africa, uses an unexpected two-step process to enter cells, research has shown. The results suggest that the mechanism by which Lassa virus causes infection is more complicated than previously known, and could lead to new approaches for preventing the disease. Click "source" to read more.

Microbe, Enzyme or Mineral? A Riddle in the Soil

06/30/2014
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 ...

Love in the lab: Close collaborators

06/25/2014
Romance often sparks between colleagues, and scientists are no different. Nature profiles four super-couples who have combined love and the lab. When physicists Claudia Felser and Stuart Parkin were introduced at a conference on applied magnetics, they felt an immediate attraction. But then, standing outside the Amsterdam conference centre, they started ...

Soil microbiomes can set plant flowering time

06/25/2014
Scientists grew Boechera stricta plants in soil inoculated with microbes from natural B. stricta habitats to study the flowering time phenotype. The technique researchers employed to isolate soil microbes to study their effect on a single plant phenotype can potentially be applied to other studies involving microbes within a community and ...

Lab-on-a-Chip Tracks Down 'Most Wanted' Microbe

06/25/2014
A diagnostic tool that’s about the size of a credit card has identified a highly prized gut microbe. The microbe contains interesting genetic sequences, but it has proven challenging to culture in the lab. Researchers used the device, called SlipChip, to isolate microbes from a patient’s gut bacteria and then genetically targeted ...

The truth behind the '5-Second Rule': When in doubt, throw it out

06/25/2014
The burger patty that slides off the plate, the ice cream treat that plops on the picnic table, the hot dog that rolls off the grill – conventional wisdom has it that you have five seconds to pick it up before it is contaminated. Fact or folklore? “A dropped item is immediately ...

Sweet Sweet Straw

06/25/2014
The calorie free sweetener erythritol is widely used in Asia; it is also gaining popularity in Europe and America. At the Vienna University of Technology, a new cheap method has been developed to produce erythritol from straw with the help of mould fungi. Erythritol has many great advantages: it does not ...

Virus kills triple negative breast cancer cells, tumor cells in mice

06/25/2014
A virus not known to cause disease kills triple-negative breast cancer cells and killed tumors grown from these cells in mice, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. Understanding how the virus kills cancer may lead to new treatments for breast cancer. Adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) infects humans but ...

Brewing yeasts reveal secrets of chromosomal warfare and dysfunction

06/25/2014
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 close relative S. kombucha is ...

New material improves wound healing, keeps bacteria from sticking

06/25/2014
As many patients know, treating wounds has become far more sophisticated than sewing stitches and applying gauze, but dressings still have shortcomings. Now scientists are reporting the next step in the evolution of wound treatment with a material that leads to faster healing than existing commercial dressings and prevents potentially ...

Proof of life: Reevaluating oldest known Archean trace fossil for indications of early biology

06/24/2014
In the hunt for early life, geobiologists seek evidence of ancient microbes in the form of trace fossils – geological records of biological activity – embedded in lavas beneath the ocean floor. Filamentous titanite (a calcium titanium silicate mineral) microtextures found in 3.45 billion-year-old volcanic pillow lavas of the Barberton ...

Emergence of bacterial vortex explained

06/24/2014
Bacteria in a drop of water spontaneously form a bi-directional vortex, with bacteria near the center of the drop swimming in the opposite direction of bacteria swimming near the edge. New computer simulations, confirmed by a novel experiment, explain how that vortex comes to be. Click "source" to read more.

Antibiotic developed 50 years ago may be the key to fighting ‘superbugs’

06/24/2014
Scientists at the University at Buffalo are turning to an old class of antibiotics to fight new superbugs resistant to modern medicine. A $4.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow UB researchers to develop new dosing regimens for polymyxin antibiotics. Developed more than 50 years ago, polymyxins were ...

Single tick bite can pack double pathogen punch

06/23/2014
People who get bitten by a blacklegged tick have a higher-than-expected chance of being exposed to more than one pathogen at the same time. The new research, published online today in the journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by scientists at Bard College, Sarah Lawrence College, and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem ...

A bacterial ballistic system

06/23/2014
Many pathogenic bacteria use special secretion systems to deliver toxic proteins into host cells. LMU researchers have determined the structure of a crucial part of one of these systems – which are possible targets for novel antibiotics. Click "source" to read more.

Emerging HIV Epidemics Among People Who Inject Drugs in the Middle East and North Africa

06/23/2014
HIV epidemics are emerging among people who inject drugs in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Though HIV infection levels were historically very low in the Middle East and North Africa, substantial levels of HIV transmission and emerging HIV epidemics have been documented among people who inject ...

Strict Diet Suspends Development, Doubles Lifespan of Worms

06/23/2014
The centuries-long search for the fountain of youth has yielded only a few promising leads, one of which entails an extreme, emaciating diet. A new study of the tiny nematode worm C. elegans begins to explain this marvel of calorie restriction and hints at an easier way to achieve longevity. Researchers ...

Beer Science: Crafting the Perfect Pint

06/23/2014
Oregon has 171 breweries operating out of 70 different cities, and Portland boasts more breweries per capita than any other city in the country. Two Oregon brew experts—Leon Fyfe, a microbiologist with the Craft Brew Alliance, and Ben Tilley, owner of Agrarian Ales—pour over the science of craft brewing, discussing ...

Natural History is Dying, and We Are All the Losers

06/23/2014
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 1935. The left ...

UF veterinary researchers discover new poxvirus in sea otters

06/19/2014
After studying unusual skin lesions seen in two orphaned sea otter pups, University of Florida scientists and their collaborators have identified a previously unknown poxvirus in the infected animals. “To our knowledge, this is the first report of a poxvirus in a mustelid, the group of mammals including otters, mink, badgers ...

Evolution depends on rare chance events, 'molecular time travel' experiments show

06/19/2014
Chance events may profoundly shape history. What if Franz Ferdinand's driver had not taken a wrong turn, bringing the Duke face to face with his assassin? Would World War I still have been fought? Would Hitler have risen to power decades later? Historians can only speculate on what might have been, ...

Tiny plastic dwellers have big impact on our oceans

06/19/2014
Microscopic creatures that live on tiny ocean plastics greatly affect the fate and ecological impacts of marine plastic pollution, according to researchers from The University of Western Australia. PhD candidate Julia Reisser and colleagues have published an article in the international journal PLOS One that contributed many new records of microbes ...

Single dose of century-old drug approved for sleeping sickness reverses autism-like symptoms in mice

06/19/2014
In a further test of a novel theory that suggests autism is the consequence of abnormal cell communication, researchers report that an almost century-old drug approved for treating sleeping sickness also restores normal cellular signaling in a mouse model of autism, reversing symptoms of the neurological disorder in animals that ...

IDing Livestock Gut Microbes Contributing to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

06/19/2014
“Increased to levels unprecedented” is how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described the rise of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions in their report on the physical science basis of climate change in 2013. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the atmospheric concentration of ...

UEA researchers discover Achilles’ heel in antibiotic-resistant bacteria

06/19/2014
Scientists at the University of East Anglia have made a breakthrough in the race to solve antibiotic resistance. New research published today in the journal Nature reveals an Achilles’ heel in the defensive barrier which surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells. The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill ...

US Travelers Return Home With Tropical Disease. Will It Spread In The States?

06/19/2014
If you happened to be reading state health departments’ outbreak announcements this past weekend, you might have seen something interesting. (You don’t do this? Hmm.) Three states — Rhode Island, North Carolina and Tennessee — all said that they have identified residents who have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne tropical disease chikungunya. ...

Bird flu 'danger zones' mapped

06/19/2014
The "danger zones" in Asia which are vulnerable to a deadly bird flu have been mapped by scientists. The virus, called H7N9, has infected 433 people mostly in China and has killed 62. The study, published in Nature Communications, showed parts of Bangladesh, India and Vietnam could easily sustain the virus. The research ...

Researchers create better methods to detect E. coli

06/17/2014
Kansas State University diagnosticians are helping the cattle industry save millions of dollars each year by developing earlier and accurate detection of E. coli. Lance Noll, master's student in veterinary biomedical science, Greensburg; T.G. Nagaraja, university distinguished professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; and Jianfa Bai, assistant professor in the Kansas ...

Algae able to switch quantum coherence on and off

06/17/2014
A UNSW-led team of researchers has discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird quantum phenomenon that occurs during photosynthesis. The function in the algae of this quantum effect, known as coherence, remains a mystery, but it is thought ...

How the Body’s Cells Hold on Tight

06/17/2014
When I was nine, biology gave me my first existential crisis. If I am built out of trillions of tiny cells, I worried, what’s to keep me from crumbling into a pile like a dried-out sandcastle? Almost two decades later, as a Ph.D. student in mathematics at the University of ...

Leading virologists join together to tackle viruses, leukemia and neurologic disorders (press release)

06/17/2014
The Global Virus Network (GVN) announced today the launch of a Task Force on HTLV, Human T-Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV), the world's first known human retrovirus and only known leukemia-causing virus. Experts from 11 countries*, led by Dr. Robert Gallo, GVN co-founder and scientific director and director of the Institute of ...

Researchers map gene differences in yellow fever, malaria mosquitoes, to help prevent disease

06/17/2014
Virginia Tech entomologists have developed a chromosome map for about half of the genome of the mosquito Aedes agypti, the major carrier of dengue fever and yellow fever. With the map, researchers can compare the chromosome organization and evolution between this mosquito and the major carrier of malaria, the Anopheles ...

Mutations during initial infection allows bacteria to evade immune response

06/16/2014
Bacteria that cause ulcers in humans undergo accelerated evolution during the initial stages of infection, allowing them to evade the immune system, according to new research by an international team of researchers including Penn State scientists. The study shows, for the first time, and in real-time, the interplay between the ...

HIV on Trial: An Attempt to Cure the World’s Smallest Patients

06/16/2014
New global clinical trial aims to replicate the mysterious “Mississippi baby” success. When an infant born with HIV was reportedly “cured” of the disease it seemed too good to be true. The success, detailed by researchers in March 2013 and later published in The New England Journal of Medicine, ...

Exploring a Parasitic Tunnel Boring Machine

06/16/2014
Parasitic worm genome and biology provides a solid basis for the development of new interventions. Researchers have deduced essential biological and genetic information from the genome sequence of the whipworm, an intestinal parasitic worm that infects hundreds of millions of people in developing countries. This information acts as the foundation ...

ROCKS AND THEIR MICROBES: A CO-EVOLUTIONARY PARTNERSHIP

06/16/2014
Miles beneath our feet, Earth’s rocky crust may seem a cold, dead place. On closer inspection it’s anything but. Microbes have been making a home on and in rocks since…well, since the beginnings of life, some 3.5 billion years ago. The traditional view of rock-dwelling microbes is one of sparse, energy-starved ...

Mosquito-borne virus chikungunya worries CDC

06/13/2014
A debilitating, mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya has made its way to North Carolina, health officials say. It's the state's first reported case of the virus. The patient was likely infected in the Caribbean, according to the Forsyth County Department of Public Health. Chikungunya is primarily found in Africa, East Asia and ...

Terms of Biology: The Pan-Genome

06/13/2014
A still somewhat unfamiliar term is floating around: the pan-genome. In 2005, Tettelin et al. coined the term along with genome analyses of eight Streptococcus agalactiae strains, and Merry introduced it to this blog, some time back already. Today, a keyword search in PubMed returns roughly 200 hits — 29 alone for ...

Bacteria Show Promise in Restoring Aquifers Used in Uranium Mining

06/13/2014
Wyoming’s resurgent uranium industry could get a further boost from University of Wyoming scientists, whose research on post-mining environmental restoration is yielding extremely promising results. Research in UW laboratories has shown that stimulating growth of native bacteria could be a more effective way to remediate aquifers tapped by in-situ leach uranium ...

Bacteria found in squid raises concern about spread of antibiotic resistance, study finds

06/13/2014
Researchers in Canada have discovered one of the deadliest kinds of antibiotic-resistant bacteria for the first time in a food product — raw squid — widening the potential exposure for consumers, according to a report published Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most antibiotic-resistant bacteria have, until ...

A Key Step Toward a Safer Strep Vaccine

06/12/2014
An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year. The findings, published online in ...

Gum Disease Bacteria Selectively Disarm Immune System, Penn Study Finds

06/12/2014
The human body is comprised of roughly 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. In healthy people, these bacteria are typically harmless and often helpful, keeping disease-causing microbes at bay. But, when disturbances knock these bacterial populations out of balance, illnesses can arise. Periodontitis, a severe form of gum ...

TB Dogma Upended: Even Uninfected Cells Trigger Immune Defenses

06/12/2014
Experimenting with mice, infectious disease experts at NYU Langone Medical Center have found that immune system cells uninfected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis trigger immune system T cells to fight the disease. The findings upend the long-held scientific belief that only cells, known specifically as dendritic cells, infected with ...

Genes found in nature yield 1918-like virus with pandemic potential

06/12/2014
An international team of researchers has shown that circulating avian influenza viruses contain all the genetic ingredients necessary to underpin the emergence of a virus similar to the deadly 1918 influenza virus. Searching public databases, the researchers, led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, identified eight genes from influenza ...

The Spotty History of Chicken Pox

06/11/2014
For its extreme antiquity the virus that causes chicken pox, it has a surprising sparse documented history. The earliest clear reference to the virus is actually to an emergence of its latent form as shingles, also called zoster. The ancient Greeks called it zoster after word for girdle, while ...

Penn Research Develops ‘Onion’ Vesicles for Drug Delivery

06/11/2014
One of the defining features of cells is their membranes. Each cell’s repository of DNA and protein-making machinery must be kept stable and secure from invaders and toxins. Scientists have attempted to replicate these properties, but, despite decades of research, even the most basic membrane structures, known as vesicles, still ...

Malaria: Blood cells behaving badly

06/11/2014
New insight into how malaria parasites perturb flow, turning infected cells into sticky capillary cloggers, may lead to new and better treatments. All the billions of flat, biconcave disks in our body known as red blood cells (or erythrocytes) make three basic, tumbling-treadmill-type motions when they wend their way through ...

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes wiped out in lab with genetic method that creates male-only offspring

06/11/2014
Scientists have modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males, pioneering a fresh approach to eradicating malaria. Since 2000, increased prevention and control measures have reduced global malaria mortality rates by 42 per cent, but the disease remains a prevalent killer especially in vulnerable sub-Saharan African regions. Malaria ...

Herpes infected humans before they were human

06/11/2014
Researchers have identified the evolutionary origins of human herpes simplex virus (HSV) -1 and -2, reporting that the former infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago while the latter jumped from ancient chimpanzees to ancestors of modern humans -- Homo erectus -- approximately 1.6 million ...

"Life: Magnified" Online - A Web companion to the 2014 exhibit at Washington Dulles International Airport

06/10/2014
Life: Magnified is an exhibit of scientific images showing cells and other scenes of life magnified by as much as 50,000 times. The exhibit is on display at Washington Dulles International Airport's Gateway Gallery from June through November 2014. Here we feature high-resolution versions of all 46 images in the collection ...

The Irish Rugby Team has Exceptional Guts

06/10/2014
Scientists in Cork carried out a study in conjunction with the Irish Rugby Football Union which revealed that exercise and associated dietary changes influence gut microbial diversity. The scientists at the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) at University College Cork and Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, found that: *The gut ...

Antibiotic Resistance Revitalizes Century-Old Virus Therapy

06/10/2014
The use of viruses that kill bacteria as a tool for treating infections are under study again by Western researchers and governments. For decades, patients behind the Iron Curtain were denied access to some of the best antibiotics developed in the West. To make do, the Soviet Union invested heavily in ...

Bacteria help explain why stress, fear trigger heart attacks (press release)

06/10/2014
Scientists believe they have an explanation for the axiom that stress, emotional shock, or overexertion may trigger heart attacks in vulnerable people. Hormones released during these events appear to cause bacterial biofilms on arterial walls to disperse, allowing plaque deposits to rupture into the bloodstream, according to research published in ...

Herpesviruses undercover: How the virus goes undetected by body's immune system

06/10/2014
Pathogens entering our body only remain unnoticed for a short period. Within minutes our immune cells detect the invader and trigger an immune response. However, some viruses have developed strategies to avoid detection and elimination by our immune system. Researchers have now been able to show how the herpesviruses achieve ...

Small-scale badger culls may boost spread of cattle TB

06/10/2014
Scientists say that culling a small number of badgers risks increasing the spread of TB infection to cattle. The research suggests that some farmers who have allegedly killed badgers on their property could be making things worse for themselves and neighbours. The findings also indicate that Northern Ireland's badger culling strategy could ...

Unhooking the Hookworm, a Successful Public Health Awareness Video from 1920

06/09/2014
This educational drama was created by the International Health Board (later the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation) in order to teach Southern rural communities in the United States about hookworm. Shown at fairs and other public events, "Unhooking the Hookworm" provides an early example of the innovative use ...

Why Some Civil War Soldiers Glowed in the Dark

06/09/2014
Several wounded Battle of Shiloh soldiers sat in the mud for two rainy days and nights waiting for the medics. As dusk fell the first night, some of them noticed something very strange: their wounds were glowing, casting a faint light into the darkness of the battlefield. Even stranger, when ...

New methods for fecal source tracking in Norwegian water catchments

06/09/2014
The Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Bioforsk, has tested and implemented a set of methods for the detection of fecal pollution in Norwegian watercourses. The methods, which combine microbial and molecular biological techniques, can give answers as to whether the contamination is a result of human or animal ...

Retrospective, June 2014 - Small Things Considered

06/09/2014
As is our custom at this time of year, we go over the material that has appeared in this blog over the last six months. Seems like a lot of stuff, but it’s the result of the work of quite a number of dedicated people, all of whom deserve our ...

Does Your Microbiological Age Match Your Biological One?

06/05/2014
By the time babies are two months old, they start to smile. By five months, they usually start picking up objects. By 12 months, they’ve probably said their first word. By 18 months, they’re walking. These milestones are familiar, but growing up isn’t just about moving, speaking and thinking. It’s ...

Study: When hospital workers get vaccines, community flu rates fall

06/05/2014
Public health data in California reveal for every 15 hospital vaccinations, there is one fewer case of flu in the community. For every 15 healthcare providers who receive the influenza vaccination, one fewer person in the community will contract an influenza-like illness, according to a study using California public health data ...

Hemorrhagic Fevers Can Be Caused by Body’s Antiviral Interferon Response

06/05/2014
Hemorrhagic fevers caused by Lassa, dengue and other viruses affect more than one million people annually and are often fatal, yet scientists have never understood why only some virus-infected people come down with the disease and others do not. But now, virologists and immunologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have ...

Mers virus: Saudi Arabia raises death toll to 282

06/05/2014
Saudi Arabia says 282 people are now confirmed to have been killed by the Mers virus, almost 100 more than initially thought. The increase came after a national review of hospital data from the time the virus emerged in 2012. The deputy health minister, who has been criticised for his handling of ...

Tracking potato famine pathogen to its home may aid $6 billion global fight

06/05/2014
The cause of potato late blight and the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s has been tracked to a pretty, alpine valley in central Mexico, which is ringed by mountains and now known to be the ancestral home of one of the most costly and deadly plant diseases in human ...

Researchers find chemicals that treat citrus greening in the lab

06/05/2014
A University of Florida research team is cautiously optimistic after finding a possible treatment in the lab for citrus greening, a disease devastating Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry. It is the first step in a years-long process to bring a treatment to market. Claudio Gonzalez and Graciela Lorca led the research ...

A Snippet: Antibiotics In The Nursery

06/05/2014
You have heard of the leaf-cutting ants1 that meticulously cultivate "their" fungi2 which provide them with nutrients, and that, in addition, host actinobacteria which prevent bacterial and fungal infections of their fungi as well as their own infection by an entomopathogenic fungus3 Metarhizium anisopliae. No big surprise, other insects stick ...

Potentially fatal parechovirus afflicting babies prompts urgent Queensland probe

06/04/2014
A little-known virus that can be fatal in young babies has prompted Queensland scientists to undertake urgent medical research. Parechovirus was first reported in Australia in December last year and there have now been dozens of cases across the country. There have been 11 confirmed cases of babies in Queensland with the ...

Anaerobic microbes surprise scientists by living with oxygen

06/04/2014
A study into Shark Bay's microbial mats has detected activity of anaerobic microbes under oxic conditions—highlighting unknown complexities in microbial systems. The study aimed to provide insight into past environments and to understand how microbial communities contribute to biogeochemical cycles by looking into changes in levels of sulphide, iron and phosphate ...

'Clever' DNA may help bacteria survive

06/04/2014
Scientists have discovered that bacteria can reshape their DNA to survive dehydration. The research, published today in the journal Journal of the Royal Society Interface, shows that bacterial DNA can change from the regular double helix – known as B-DNA, to the more compact A-DNA form, when faced with hostile conditions ...

New Method of Wormlike Motion Lets Gels Wiggle through Water

06/03/2014
Next time you spot an earthworm sliding through fresh dirt, take a closer look. What you’re seeing is an organic movement called peristaltic locomotion that has been meticulously refined by nature. Jarod Gregory, an undergraduate student in the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science, used a worm’s ...

Bacterium causing US catfish deaths has Asian roots

06/03/2014
A bacterium causing an epidemic among catfish farms in the southeastern United States is closely related to organisms found in diseased grass carp in China, according to researchers at Auburn University in Alabama and three other institutions. The study, published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the ...

New UGA research engineers microbes for the direct conversion of biomass to fuel

06/03/2014
The promise of affordable transportation fuels from biomass—a sustainable, carbon neutral route to American energy independence—has been left perpetually on hold by the economics of the conversion process. New research from the University of Georgia has overcome this hurdle allowing the direct conversion of switchgrass to fuel. The study, published in ...

Symbiotic root fungus promotes growth in plants

06/03/2014
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have discovered a microscopic fungus which promotes growth in certain plants. "This fungus, native to Europe, is an organic fertilizer with the potential to increase yields of crops such as wheat and maize," says Sigisfredo Garnica of the Institute of Evolution and Ecology. Dr. Garnica ...

Ebola’s ‘Fist’: U.Va. Unlocks How Deadly Virus Smashes Into Human Cells

06/02/2014
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered how the deadly Ebola virus punches its way into the cytoplasm of cells. The finding identifies an important target for blocking the infection process of this incurable disease that many fear may be used for bioterror. Outbreaks of this extremely ...

Sleeping sickness and tsetse flies

06/02/2014
Although this blog focus mostly on bacteria, I do occasionally dip out of my comfort zone into other infectious elements such as viruses, prions and fungi. One topic that I haven’t covered nearly enough is the protozoan pathogens; the unicellular organisms that are not bacterial, but are responsible for some ...

Oral cholera vaccine highly effective during outbreak in Guinea

06/02/2014
An oral cholera vaccine protected individuals by 86 percent during a recent outbreak in Guinea, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The study, conducted by Epicentre, research arm of the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the Guinean Ministry of ...

Delaying Vaccines Increases Risks—with No Added Benefits

06/02/2014
Concerns about vaccine safety have led up to 40 percent of parents in the U.S. to delay or refuse some vaccines for their children in hopes of avoiding rare reactions. Barriers to health care access can also cause immunization delays. But delaying some vaccines, in addition to leaving children unprotected ...

Retroviruses, the Placenta, and the Genomic Junk Drawer

06/02/2014
By now, many of us are aware that a considerable portion (45% or more) of the human genome consists of transposable elements. These are mobile genetic sequences, such as Alu repeats and long and short interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs and SINEs). A whopping 18% of this so-called "dark matter of ...

Nothing to Sneeze At

05/30/2014
Although we all know that sneezes and coughs transmit infections, little research had been done to model how they work. To address this knowledge gap, Lydia Bourouiba and John Bush of MIT’s Applied Mathematics Lab used high speed cameras and fluid mechanics to reveal why we’ve grossly underestimated the role ...

Are Microbes Winning the Antibiotic Arms Race?

05/30/2014
Eighty-six years after the discovery of penicillin, docs are running out of antibiotics to treat serious infections like Clostridium difficile and gonorrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the same time, the discovery of new "wonder drugs" has slowed, and microbiologists say drug companies have little ...

New coronavirus inhibitor exhibits antiviral activity by blocking viral hijacking of host

05/30/2014
Since the SARS epidemic in 2003, coronaviruses have been on the watch list for emerging pathogens, and the ongoing outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) confirmed that they represent a serious threat. No specific drugs exist against coronaviruses so far, but a new article introduces a new inhibitor ...

The crab-castrating parasite that zombifies its prey

05/30/2014
Meet Sacculina carcini – a barnacle that makes a living as a real-life body-snatcher of crabs. Unlike most barnacles that are happy to simply stick themselves to a rock and filter food from the water, Sacculina and its kin have evolved to be parasitic, and they are horrifyingly good at ...

A Gaming System Starring... Microbes

05/30/2014
Videogames may seem like the last place for fruitful work in biotechnology, but Stanford University bioengineer Ingmar Riedel-Kruse has reinvented 1980s classics to enlist living microbes. His custom electronics and augmented-reality software coax microorganisms to play key roles in Pac-Man, Brick Breaker, and other reimagined 8-bit titles. Here’s a look ...

HIV Can Cut and Paste in the Human Genome

05/30/2014
Aarhus University has developed a technology that uses the HIV virus as a tool in the fight against hereditary diseases - and in the long term, against HIV infection as well. The technology repairs the genome in a new and safer manner. For the first time researchers have succeeded in altering ...

Ultra-violet Light Works as Screening Tool for Bats with White-nose Syndrome

05/30/2014
Scientists working to understand the devastating bat disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) now have a new, non-lethal tool to identify bats with WNS lesions —ultraviolet, or UV, light. If long-wave UV light is directed at the wings of bats with white-nose syndrome, it produces a distinctive orange-yellow fluorescence. This orange-yellow ...

Amber discovery indicates Lyme disease is older than human race

05/30/2014
Lyme disease is a stealthy, often misdiagnosed disease that was only recognized about 40 years ago, but new discoveries of ticks fossilized in amber show that the bacteria which cause it may have been lurking around for 15 million years – long before any humans walked on Earth. The findings were ...

Sneaky bacteria change key protein’s shape to escape detection

05/28/2014
Every once in a while in the U.S., bacterial meningitis seems to crop up out of nowhere, claiming a young life. Part of the disease’s danger is the ability of the bacteria to evade the body’s immune system, but scientists are now figuring out how the pathogen hides in plain ...

Researchers aim to disarm a 'cereal killer'

05/28/2014
A fungus that kills an estimated 30 percent of the world’s rice crop may finally have met its match, thanks to a research discovery made by scientists at the University of Delaware and the University of California at Davis. The research team, led by Harsh Bais, associate professor of plant and ...

Sending Algae into Space to Probe Plants in Extreme Environments

05/28/2014
By sending algae into space, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist and his cooperators will be able to study some of the key mechanisms that control plant growth and photosynthesis. The work by plant physiologist Autar Mattoo with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is part of an international effort, largely ...

The pirate in the microbe

05/28/2014
Pirates could have copied the technique they use to capture ships from bacteria. Like buccaneers who draw their boat to a target ship with grappling hooks, the single-cell organisms use threadlike appendages, called pili, to creep along a surface. A research team from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and ...

Variety in diet can hamper microbial diversity in the gut

05/28/2014
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 ...

A biodegradable plastic made from waste methane

05/28/2014
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 decades to achieve these goals. ...

Cells in Living Things Fight Noise with Noise

05/27/2014
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 the cacophony from the sweet sounds of music or silence. ...

What Are The Odds That an Artificially Enhanced Flu Strain Could Escape a Lab?

05/27/2014
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 ...

Scientists Build a Yeast Chromosome From Scratch. Next Up? Designer Genomes

05/27/2014
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 manipulate that world at a ...

How Bacteria in Placenta Could Help Shape Human Health

05/27/2014
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 newborn’s immune ...

Mycotoxin protects against nematodes

05/27/2014
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 biocoenosis with funghi. Both sides benefit: ...

Kawasaki Disease Traced to Winds from Northeast China Carrying Unusual Fungal Load

05/27/2014
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 heart ...

Microbes Defy Rules of DNA Code

05/27/2014
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 that break the ...

The bug that lost a few genes to become Black Death

05/27/2014
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 ...

New device will find carcinogenic food fungus faster

05/27/2014
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. Detecting Aflatoxins Aflatoxins are present in a wide range of foodstuffs, especially cereals, grains and nuts and are known to ...

Rising star uses paper to tackle food-borne diseases

05/23/2014
A University of Alberta researcher’s star is rising thanks to her idea to detect deadly pathogens such as E. coli using a paper device only slightly larger than a postage stamp. Frédérique Deiss, a post-doctoral fellow in the Faculty of Science, is working on ways to help detect food- and water-borne ...

The protective milk shot – How mother’s milk protects piglets from parasite infections

05/23/2014
Coccidiosis is a serious disease in new-born piglets. Caused by the parasite Cystoisospora suis, it exclusively infects pigs and often causes severe diarrhoea in suckling piglets. Parasitologists at the Vetmeduni Vienna have developed a new strategy for protecting the piglets: They infected sows with the pathogen during pregnancy. Antibodies against ...

Why a MERS Vaccine Won't Be Easy

05/23/2014
Two years ago, the virus didn't even have a name. A year ago it had infected roughly 50 people, half of whom died. Now, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has been confirmed in more than 600 people, and killed nearly 30 percent of its victims. Originating on the Arabian Peninsula, MERS has ...

Gene discovery may halt a deep-rooted pepper disease

05/22/2014
For more than a century, the global hot pepper industry has been dealing with a problem. A funguslike pathogen, known as Phytophthora capsici, has spread a root rot disease that severely diminishes crop yields. Despite highly adaptive management practices and the availability of wild pepper varieties that have evolved resistance, ...

Soil bacteria may provide clues to curbing antibiotic resistance

05/22/2014
Drug-resistant bacteria annually sicken 2 million Americans and kill at least 23,000. A driving force behind this growing public health threat is the ability of bacteria to share genes that provide antibiotic resistance. Bacteria that naturally live in the soil have a vast collection of genes to fight off antibiotics, ...

Fungi clean oil-polluted soil

05/22/2014
Fungi can be harnessed to clean polluted soil which cannot be cleaned using traditional composting. This was the finding of Erica Winquist, M.Sc. (Tech.), in her dissertation for Aalto University. Soil that has been polluted by organic pollutants such as oils can be treated by composting. However it is not effective ...

Nasal bacteria may be predictor of skin infections

05/22/2014
Bacteria found in the nose may be a key indicator for future development of skin and soft-tissue infections in remote areas of the body, researchers say. The nose is the primary S. aureus reservoir in humans and nearly 80% of the time, an individual's colonizing strain is the same strain ...

Bird flu experiments pose risk of accidental release

05/22/2014
Research in mammals that aims to prevent future influenza pandemics raises ethical, public health concerns. Experiments creating dangerous flu strains that are transmissible between mammals pose too great a risk to human life from potential release, according to an editorial by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) ...

Pictures Considered #17. The Meselson-Stahl Experiment

05/22/2014
Described as the “Most Beautiful Experiment In Biology” the demonstration by Meselson and Stahl that DNA replicates semiconservatively is one of the major landmarks in the genesis of modern biology. And indeed it is most pleasing, both visually and cerebrally. By semiconservative is meant that each strand of a DNA molecule ...

2014 Maurice Hilleman/Merck Award Laureate

05/16/2014
The 2014 Maurice Hilleman/Merck Award has been given to Dan Granoff, M.D., Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, California. This prestigious award is given in memory of Maurice Hilleman, who helped save many lives by developing vaccines. “Granoff is greatly deserving of this award,” says Stanley Plotkin, University of Pennsylvania. “He ...

Penn Vet Study Reveals Salmonella’s Hideout Strategy

05/16/2014
The body’s innate immune system is a first line of defense, intent on sensing invading pathogens and wiping them out before they can cause harm. It should not be surprising then that bacteria have evolved many ways to specifically evade and overcome this sentry system in order to spread infection. A ...

Measles virus used to put woman's cancer into remission

05/16/2014
A woman with an incurable cancer is now in remission, thanks, doctors say, to a highly concentrated dose of the measles virus. For 10 years, Stacy Erholtz, 49, battled multiple myeloma, a deadly cancer of the blood. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say she had received every type of chemotherapy drug ...

Drugs to Be Derived from Insights into Body-Dwelling Bacteria

05/16/2014
The human body teems with trillions of microorganisms — a microbial landscape that has attracted roughly $500 million in research spending since 2008. Yet with a few exceptions, such as the use of fecal transplants for treating life- threatening gut infections or inflammatory bowel disease, research on the human microbiome ...

Chamois had pneumonia: Cause of death established

05/16/2014
In spring 2010, nearly a third of the chamois living in a region of northern Austria suddenly died of unexplained causes. Concerned hunters and foresters sent the carcasses to the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna for analysis. Extensive investigations have now revealed that the animals died of bacterial pneumonia caused ...

'Transformer' protein provides new insights into Ebola virus disease

05/16/2014
A new study reveals that a protein of the Ebola virus can transform into three distinct shapes, each with a separate function that is critical to the virus's survival. Each shape offers a potential target for developing drugs against Ebola virus disease, a hemorrhagic fever that kills up to 9 ...

Terms of Biology - The Parvome

05/15/2014
The term Parvome was introduced in 2008 by Julian Davies right here in this blog. It had been coined by Mark Martin from the Latin, parvus, for small, to describe the “humungous microbial world of small (secreted) molecules of great structural diversity” and, I should add, of immensely varied bioactivity. ...

Advocating Pill, U.S. Signals Shift to Prevent AIDS

05/15/2014
Federal health officials recommended Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for AIDS take a daily pill that has been shown to prevent infection with the virus that causes it. If broadly followed, the advice could transform AIDS prevention in the United States — from reliance on condoms, which ...

How U.S. Hospitals Are Planning To Stop The Deadly MERS Virus

05/15/2014
In the past month, Middle East Respiratory syndrome has morphed from a little-known disease in the Arabian Peninsula to a major global health concern, with more than 300 cases in Saudi Arabia in April, 54 of them fatal. Two cases have been reported in the U.S. as well — one in ...

Healthy Lung Microbes Keep Mice Breathing Easy

05/15/2014
Like humans, mice start life with sterile lungs that soon get colonized by microbes, which appear to protect the lung tissue from an asthma-like reaction in the presence of dust mites. Human cells are outnumbered ten-to-one by the microbes that thrive in and on us. Now a study finds that the ...

Bacteria on your hands reflect the country you live in

05/12/2014
Where and how you live strongly influences both the type and number of microbes you carry on your hands, according to a new international study led by scientists at Yale and Stanford. The research identified and analyzed bacteria on the hands of women in Tanzania and graduate students in the United ...

Bacteria left a methane mess after spill

05/12/2014
Study contradicts notion that microbes consumed most of the gas after 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. When the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon oil well sent some 400,000 tonnes of methane into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, many scientists and others feared it would linger. So researchers were pleasantly surprised ...

Hijacking bacteria's natural defences to trap and reveal pathogens

05/12/2014
Bad bacteria could soon have no place left to hide, thanks to new materials that turn the cell’s own defences against them. Scientists at The University of Nottingham and GSK Consumer Healthcare have developed a technique that could locate the potential source of an infection by hijacking the normal processes of ...

Plant biodiversity under threat from general viruses

05/12/2014
Introduced generalist plant viruses from other hosts that encounter native plant species for the first time pose a greater threat to plant biodiversity in south-west Australia than introduced specialist viruses, a recent study found. The researchers compared impacts of six introduced generalist, seven introduced specialist and four Australian indigenous viruses on ...

New genomics technique could improve treatment and control of malaria

05/12/2014
Single-cell genomics could provide new insight into the biology of malaria parasites (including their virulence and levels of drug resistance) to ultimately improve treatment and control of the disease, according to new research funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health. The findings are revealed in a study ...

Why a bacterium got its curve — and why biologists should know

05/12/2014
Drawing from his engineering background, Princeton University researcher Alexandre Persat had a notion as to why the bacteria Caulobacter crescentus are curved — a hunch that now could lead to a new way of studying the evolution of bacteria, according to research published in the journal Nature Communications. Commonly used in ...

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

05/12/2014
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 mechanism of its operation remained unsolved for ...

New type of heredity described in Paramecia, linked to epigenetics

05/12/2014
Considered as an obsolete theory for many years, the transmission of acquired traits has returned to the forefront of debate thanks to the development of epigenetic research. In this context, a team of researchers has described how in Paramecia, mating types are transmitted from generation to generation through an unexpected ...

Artificial magnetic bacteria "turn" food into natural drugs

05/12/2014
Scientists from the University of Granada have successfully created magnetic bacteria that could be added to foodstuffs and could, after ingestion, help diagnose diseases of the digestive system like stomach cancer. These important findings constitute the first use of a food as a natural drug and aid in diagnosing an ...

The Jelly Roll of Life

05/12/2014
We know that life on earth is incredibly diverse. It can survive deep in the trenches of the ocean and in the frozen permafrost of the arctic. Surely we have much to learn from the study of life, but we also have much to learn about the virus. Even though ...

Life on cheese: Scientists explore the cheese rind microbiome

05/09/2014
Bacteria and moulds are vital to the ripening and aroma of many cheeses. Scientists from the Institute for Milk Hygiene, Milk Technology and Food Science at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna are working to identify the microorganisms that live on the rind of Vorarlberger Bergkäse, an Austrian alpine cheese. ...

Ending the perfect storm: Protein key to beating flu pandemics

05/09/2014
A protein called SOCS4 has been shown to act as a handbrake on the immune system's runaway reaction to flu infection, providing a possible means of minimizing the impact of flu pandemics. Scientists have found that without SOCS4 the immune response to influenza infection is slowed and there is a ...

Black Death May Have Improved European Health (video)

05/09/2014
Researchers examined 600 skeletons in London and determined post-plague populations lived longer, healthier lives. Click "source" to view video. Video provided by Newsy.

Antibiotic-Resistant Germs, Lying in Wait Everywhere

05/09/2014
The Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico is a network of chambers stretching 1,600 feet underground. The bacteria that grow on the walls of its most remote recesses have been living in complete isolation for more than four million years. In 2010, Gerry Wright, a microbiologist at McMaster University in Ontario, ran ...

Scientists Add Letters to DNA’s Alphabet, Raising Hope and Fear

05/09/2014
Scientists reported Wednesday that they had taken a significant step toward altering the fundamental alphabet of life — creating an organism with an expanded artificial genetic code in its DNA. The accomplishment might eventually lead to organisms that can make medicines or industrial products that cells with only the natural genetic ...

A Snippet: One Fungus, Two Bacteria

05/09/2014
How often have you heard of two or more bacterial species coexisting within the same cell of a host? It’s known to happen with some frequency in some amebas, insects and other invertebrates (including the strange case of the mealybug bacteria, which have an endosymbiotic bacterium that carries another bacterium ...

Mass vaccination campaigns reduce the substantial burden of yellow fever in Africa

05/07/2014
Yellow fever, an acute viral disease, is estimated to have been responsible for 78,000 deaths in Africa in 2013 according to new research. The research also estimates that recent mass vaccination campaigns against yellow fever have led to a 27 percent decrease in the burden of yellow fever across Africa ...

Study validates air sampling techniques to fight bioterrorism

05/07/2014
Air and surface sampling techniques currently used by the US government are effective in fighting bioterrorism and potentially saving lives, a researcher finds. In 2005 and 2009, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) in order to simulate a deliberate attack, staged the release of a harmless bacteria that is biological ...

Native algae species to blame for 'rock snot' blooms in rivers worldwide

05/07/2014
The recent blooms of the freshwater algae known as "rock snot" on river bottoms worldwide are caused by a native species responding to changing environmental conditions rather than by accidental introductions by fishermen or the emergence of a new genetic strain as widely believed, a Dartmouth College-led study suggests. In fact, ...

EU worries over pig virus prompt new blood import rules

05/07/2014
The EU Commission has agreed new rules to limit the spread of a deadly swine disease that has killed millions of piglets in the US. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv) has wiped out around 10% of the American herd in a year. While the EU rejected an outright ban on live pig ...

Muddled about MERS? Here’s A Quick Guide

05/07/2014
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 ...

Investigating the Cheese Microbiome

05/07/2014
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 – ...

Cationic small molecules hold great potential for preventing and treating fungal infections

05/07/2014
Pathogenic fungi like Candida albicans can cause oral, skin, nail and genital infections. While exposure to pathogenic fungi is generally not life-threatening, it can be deadly to immunocompromised patients with AIDS or cancer. A variety of antifungal medications, such as triazoles and polyenes, are currently used for treating fungal infections. ...

Caribbean health experts warn of a rapidly spreading mosquito-borne virus

05/07/2014
Caribbean health experts warned last week that they “cannot stop” a rapidly spreading mosquito-borne virus that has infected thousands and is associated with six deaths in the region. The alert came as the Dominican Republic’s health ministry became the 15th Caribbean nation to confirm cases of the chikungunya virus and Haiti ...

The Comeback Of Polio Is A Public Health Emergency

05/07/2014
It is, says the World Health Organization, "an extraordinary event." Polio is spreading to a degree that constitutes a public health emergency. The global drive to wipe out the virus had driven the number of polio cases down from 300,000 in the late 1980s to just 417 cases last year. The ...

Lonely Bacteria Mutate Faster

05/07/2014
Bacteria that have no friends don’t get sad; they get weird. When E. coli cells sense fewer other bacteria around them, their DNA starts to mutate at a faster rate. That’s bad news for humans and our antibiotics. But if we can make bacteria feel less alone, we might be ...

Study in 'Science' finds missing piece of biogeochemical puzzle in aquifers

05/02/2014
A study published today in Science by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory may dramatically shift our understanding of the complex dance of microbes and minerals that takes place in aquifers deep underground. This dance affects groundwater quality, the fate of contaminants in the ground and ...

Mysterious illness killing off starfish on both US coasts

05/02/2014
A mysterious illness is killing starfish, or sea stars, on both U.S. coasts in unprecedented numbers, and marine scientists have no idea what it is or how to help the creatures survive. In a News Focus article published in the journal Science, Erik Stokstad describes the symptoms of the illness ...

New insights into bacterial substitute for sex

05/02/2014
Bacteria don't have sex but they can mix their genetic material by pulling in DNA from dead bacterial cells and inserting these into their own genome. New research led by Imperial College London has found that this process – called recombination – is more complex than was first thought. The findings, ...

Undersea warfare: Viruses hijack deep-sea bacteria at hydrothermal vents

05/02/2014
More than a mile beneath the ocean's surface, as dark clouds of mineral-rich water billow from seafloor hot springs called hydrothermal vents, unseen armies of viruses and bacteria wage war. Like pirates boarding a treasure-laden ship, the viruses infect bacterial cells to get the loot: tiny globules of elemental sulfur stored ...

The bacteria that chat back and tell you how they are

05/01/2014
Do you speak bacteria? The first conversations with microbes are already under way. Manuel Porcar at the University of Valencia in Spain and his colleagues are developing a way for bacteria and humans to talk to each other, by converting light waves into speech. So far the bacteria have told ...
05/01/2014
Two herdsmen in the country of Georgia have been infected with a brand-new virus, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The newly identified virus is a second cousin to smallpox. And, like smallpox, it causes painful blisters on the hands and arms‎. Other symptoms include ...

How Weak Immune Systems Escort a Deadly Fungus Into the Brain

05/01/2014
A pervasive fungus, passed along by pigeon droppings, can kill HIV patients by using a Trojan Horse strategy to invade their brains. Pigeon droppings and vulnerable immune systems can be a deadly combination. Fortunately, scientists are starting to figure out how different strains of a yeast that hitchhiked its way ...

Infectious diseases: Smallpox watch

05/01/2014
In 2011, while construction workers were digging a foundation at a site in Queens, New York, their equipment struck against something metal. Then a body rolled out of the rubble. Thinking that they might have unearthed the shallow grave of a murder victim, the workers immediately called the New York ...

WHO warns against 'post-antibiotic' era

05/01/2014
The 'post-antibiotic' era is near, according to a report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO). The decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents is a global problem, and a surveillance system should be established to monitor it, the group says. There is nothing hopeful in the WHO's ...

Scientists Convert Bacteria from Free-living to Nitrogen Fixing

05/01/2014
If you pull up a soybean or bean plant and shake off the dirt, you might see odd swellings or bumps, like rheumatic finger joints, on its roots. Inside the cool, soil-covered bumps are bacteria that are making nitrogen with the help of an enzyme, something chemical factories can do ...

MERS mystery: Virus found in camels

04/30/2014
(CNN) -- Evidence is mounting against camels as leading suspects in a deadly mystery that's claimed more than 100 lives in the Middle East. The biological supervillain is the virus causing MERS-coV, short for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a type of coronavirus. Since the first documented cases in spring 2012, ...

NIH Scientists Establish Monkey Model of Hantavirus Disease

04/30/2014
National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers have developed an animal model of human hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in rhesus macaques, an advance that may lead to treatments, vaccines and improved methods of diagnosing the disease. The study, conducted by researchers at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), ...

US biodefence facilities ramp up

04/30/2014
The future of the US government’s biodefence strategy sits in a warehouse in rural Texas. A dozen gleaming-white trailers, each about the length of a bus, hold equipment for producing millions of doses of medical countermeasures against some of the world’s deadliest threats. These mobile clean rooms can be configured ...

Got Gas? It Could Mean You've Got Healthy Gut Microbes

04/30/2014
We know that air often comes after eating nutrient-packed vegetables, such as cabbage, kale and broccoli. And researchers have found that fiber-rich foods, like beans and lentils, boost the levels of beneficial gut bacteria after only a few days, as we reported in December. So all this got us wondering: ...

Mystery of 1918 Pandemic Flu Virus Solved by UA Researchers

04/29/2014
University of Arizona researcher Michael Worobey and his team have discovered that the key to understanding influenza pandemics may lie in flu exposure during childhood. Just as the world was recovering from the devastation of World War I, another killer swept across the globe. A deadly flu virus attacked more than ...

Frog-Killing Fungus Meets Its Match in Hidden World of Tiny Predators

04/29/2014
As I reported in a feature story in Scientific American last December , some fungi have been behaving badly of late, attacking bats, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and people with gusto, driving many species to extinction and others to the brink. It’s all quite depressing. But today in Scientific American online ...

The bacteriophages of tuberculosis

04/29/2014
I’ve written previously about bacteriophages, the viruses that infect bacteria, and I studied them for my first lab project. So I was pretty excited by a lovely little pearl in PLoS Pathogens last month discussing mycobacteriophages; the viruses that specifically attack mycobacteria. Mycobacteria are a group of bacteria that contain ...

'Lonely' bacteria increase risk of antibiotic resistance

04/29/2014
Scientists from The University of Manchester have discovered that 'lonely' microbes are more likely to mutate, resulting in higher rates of antibiotic resistance. The study, published today in Nature Communications and jointly funded by The Wellcome Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, explored the mutation rates of E. coli. Researchers ...

Bacteria on the Skin: New Insights on Our Invisible Companions

04/29/2014
A University of Manchester study examines how skin-dwelling bacteria influence wound healing - findings could help address chronic wounds, a common ailment in the elderly. We spend our lives covered head-to-toe in a thin veneer of bacteria. But despite a growing appreciation for the valuable roles our resident microbes play in ...

New ways of cultivating valuable marine microorganisms

04/29/2014
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 to take advantage of value-added molecules derived from ...

Research shows bacteria can combat dangerous gas leaks

04/29/2014
Bacteria could mop up naturally-occurring and man-made leaks of natural gases before they are released into the atmosphere and cause global warming - according to new research from the University of East Anglia. Findings published today in the journal Nature shows how a single bacterial strain (Methylocella silvestris) found in soil ...

Family Tree Of Pertussis Traced, Could Lead To Better Vaccine

04/28/2014
Whooping cough was once one of the leading killers of babies around the world. Now that it's largely controlled with a vaccine, scientists have had a chance to figure out how the disease came into being in the first place. That story is told in a study published online this ...

Efforts to zap bacteria in food are slow to catch hold

04/28/2014
The nuclear energy that Frank Benso uses to kill bacteria in fruit and oysters has won widespread support from public health officials and scientists, who say it could turn the tide against the plague of foodborne illness. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of radiation to wipe out ...

The Min System: All the Places You’ll Go!

04/28/2014
Most bacteria divide quite precisely and their daughter cells are often the same size. The reason for this accuracy is not really known, but it must be important because it is such a frequent phenomenon. This requires good measuring sticks, systems that calculate distance from the ends and restrict the ...

How the Body Fights Against Viruses

04/25/2014
Scientists of the Max F. Perutz Laboratories of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, together with colleagues of the ETH Zurich, have now shown how double stranded RNA, such as viral genetic information, is prevented from entering the nucleus of a cell. During the immune response ...

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity in each drop of seawater

04/25/2014
The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live in the oceans, forming the base of the marine food chain and occupying a range of ecological niches based on temperature, light and ...

Scripps Research Institute Scientists Find New Point of Attack on HIV for Vaccine Development

04/25/2014
A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) working with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has discovered a new vulnerable site on the HIV virus. The newly identified site can be attacked by human antibodies in a way that neutralizes the infectivity of a wide variety ...

Microscopic Organism Plays a Big Role in Ocean Carbon Cycling, Scripps Scientists Discover

04/25/2014
It’s broadly understood that the world’s oceans play a crucial role in the global-scale cycling and exchange of carbon between Earth’s ecosystems and atmosphere. Now scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have taken a leap forward in understanding the microscopic underpinnings of these processes. When phytoplankton use ...

Microbes provide insights into evolution of human language

04/25/2014
Big brains do not explain why only humans use sophisticated language, according to researchers who have discovered that even a species of pond life communicates by similar methods. Dr Thom Scott-Phillips of Durham University's Department of Anthropology, led research into Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria common in water and ...

Independent evolution of harmful organisms from one bacterial family

04/24/2014
For the first time, researchers have studied the Black Death bacterium's entire family tree to fully understand how some of the family members evolve to become harmful. Contrary to popular belief, the team found pathogenic members of this bacterial family do not share a recent common disease-causing ancestor, but instead, ...

Feasibility study suggests ways to widen access to fecal transplants for C. diff infections

04/24/2014
Using frozen stool from healthy, unrelated donors was safe and effective in treating patients with serious, relapsing diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile, according to a new pilot study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online. Known as fecal microbiota transplantation, the treatment was equally effective whether given via a ...

Cow Manure Harbors Diverse New Antibiotic Resistance Genes

04/24/2014
Manure from dairy cows, which is commonly used as a farm soil fertilizer, contains a surprising number of newly identified antibiotic resistance genes from the cows’ gut bacteria. The findings, reported in mBio® the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, hints that cow manure is a potential ...

179 million cases of acute diarrhea in US each year, most preventable

04/24/2014
In the United States, approximately 179 million cases of acute diarrhea occur each year, and most of those cases are entirely preventable. Produce is the most common source of diarrhea due to foodborne intestinal illness. Most consumers are not aware that 98 percent of spinach and lettuce bought from grocery ...

Scientists discover how a killer fungus attacks HIV patients

04/24/2014
Researchers have discovered that a type of white blood cell carries a deadly fungus into the brains of HIV positive patients, causing meningitis which kills more than 600,000 people a year. The discovery could lead to more effective ways of tackling the deadly fungus as it infects the human body. ...

Yes! We have no bananas? It could actually happen

04/24/2014
Banana lovers take note: The world's supply of the fruit is under attack from a fungus strain that could wipe out the popular variety that Americans eat. "It's a very serious situation," said Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida who in 1989 originally discovered ...

Insight into pathogenic fungus

04/24/2014
The fungal pathogen Candida albicans causes yeast infections, diaper rashes and oral thrush, and is the most common fungal pathogen to infect humans. Researchers have identified a protein that the fungus uses to defend itself against the human body. Another concern with the fungus is that it can also cause ...

How a plant beckons the bacteria that will do it harm

04/24/2014
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 exploit to ...

Dirty Money: A Microbial Jungle Thrives In Your Wallet

04/23/2014
You may have heard that dollar bills harbor trace amounts of drugs. But those greenbacks in your wallet are hiding far more than cocaine and the flu. They're teeming with life. Each dollar bill carries about 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface, scientists have found. Most are harmless. But ...

The day they discovered the AIDS virus

04/23/2014
A historical look back at the discovery of the AIDS virus. Margaret Heckler, president Reagan's Health and Human Services Secretary made the announcement to the world. “First, the probable cause of AIDS has been found: a variant of a known human cancer virus. Second, not only has the agent been ...

Molecule discovered that smuggles toxins from intestinal pathogens into human cells

04/22/2014
Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories and Dr. Panagiotis Papatheodorou from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Freiburg have discovered the receptor responsible for smuggling the toxin of the bacterium Clostridium perfringens into the cell. The TpeL toxin is formed by C. perfringens, a ...

Who's Protecting Whom From Deadly Toxin?

04/22/2014
Questions are swirling around a science journal's decision last year to publish a description of a newly discovered botulinum toxin while omitting key genetic details that researchers would normally disclose. The unusual case highlights important unresolved issues in how to balance scientific openness with the worry that biological information could ...

American homes harbor antibiotic-resistant "superbug" MRSA

04/22/2014
An antibiotic-resistant "superbug," long a problem in health-care settings, is now taking up residence in people's homes, a new U.S. study finds. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA, was once mainly confined to places like hospitals and nursing homes, where it can cause severe conditions such as pneumonia ...

Study demonstrates that antibacterial soaps can reduce risk of foodborne illness

04/22/2014
Newly published research shows that the use of antibacterial soaps can reduce the spread of harmful bacteria - that often leads to foodborne illness - more effectively than using non-antibacterial soaps. The research, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Food Protection, used new laboratory data, together with simulation techniques, to ...

Salmonella Infections Fall, But Foodborne Illness Rates Unchanged

04/22/2014
Infection from salmonella bacteria, the most common form of food poisoning in the U.S., declined last year but the overall rate of foodborne illness is holding stubbornly steady despite new measures intended to curb it, according to data released Thursday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ...

Deadly Human Pathogen Cryptococcus Fully Sequenced

04/22/2014
DURHAM, NC - Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus neoformans -- a fungus responsible for a million cases of pneumonia and meningitis every ...

Nutrient-absorbing surface’s assembly revealed: study

04/22/2014
Vanderbilt University researchers have now discovered how intestinal cells build this specialized structure, which is critical for absorbing nutrients and defending against pathogens. The findings, published April 10 in the journal Cell, reveal a role for adhesion molecules in brush border assembly and increase our understanding of intestinal pathologies associated ...

Hide and Seek: Revealing camouflaged bacteria

04/21/2014
Bacteria have developed countless strategies to hide themselves in order to evade attack by the immune system. In the body, Salmonella bacteria use macrophages as host cells to ensure their survival and to be able to spread within the body. Their survival strategy is to nestle into a vacuole within ...

The malaria pathogen’s cellular skeleton under a super-microscope

04/21/2014
The tropical disease malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite. For its survival and propagation, Plasmodium requires a protein called actin. Scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Germany used high-resolution structural biology methods to investigate the different versions of this protein in the parasite in high ...

Antibiotics improve growth in children

04/21/2014
Antibiotics improve growth in children at risk of undernourishment in low and middle income countries, according to researchers at McGill University who have just conducted a research literature review on the subject. Their results, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest that the youngest children from the most vulnerable populations ...

Stanford biologists help solve fungi mysteries

04/21/2014
A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate change. Pine forests are chock full of wild animals and plant life, but there's an invisible machine underground. Huge populations of fungi are ...

Some immune cells defend only one organ

04/21/2014
Scientists have uncovered a new way the immune system may fight cancers and viral infections. The finding could aid efforts to use immune cells to treat illness. The research, in mice, suggests that some organs have the immunological equivalent of “neighborhood police” – specialized squads of defenders that patrol only ...

Events In Your Past Determine Which Microbes Live On You

04/21/2014
A scientist with a swab and a microscope could tell what school you went to. Trillions of microbes live in and on our body. We don’t yet fully understand how these microbial ecosystems develop or the full extent to which they influence our health. Some provide essential nutrients, while others ...

Study of gut microbes, antibiotics offers clues to improving immunity in premature babies

04/21/2014
Mothers give a newborn baby a gift of germs -— germs that help to kick-start the infant’s immune system. But antibiotics, used to fight bacterial infection, may paradoxically interrupt a newborn’s own immune responses. A new animal study by neonatology researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) sheds light ...

New MRSA superbug emerges in Brazil

04/18/2014
HOUSTON – (April 16, 2014) – An international research team led by Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection in a Brazilian patient. The report appeared in the April 17 issue ...

West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus: study

04/18/2014
(Reuters) - An Ebola outbreak blamed for 135 deaths in West Africa in the past month was not imported from Central Africa but caused by a new strain of the virus, a study in a U.S. medical journal said, raising the specter of further regional epidemics. The spread of Ebola ...

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

04/18/2014
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 history as well as their interactions with ...

New research shows that bacteria survive longer in contact lens cleaning solution than previously thought

04/17/2014
Each year in the UK, bacterial infections cause around 6,000 cases of a severe eye condition known as microbial keratitis - an inflammation and ulceration of the cornea that can lead to loss of vision. The use of contact lenses has been identified as a particular risk factor for microbial ...

Microbial Misadventures: A Malaria Outbreak Without Mosquitoes

04/16/2014
Shout “fire” in a crowded room and watch the occupants fly for the exits. Speak the word “malaria” and watch as all within earshot reach for the nearest can of DEET. The incontrovertible fact of malaria’s relationship with mosquitos is one that has been known since Sir Ronald Ross ...

New research shows how pathogenic E. coli O157:H7 binds to fresh vegetables

04/16/2014
Food-poisoning outbreaks linked to disease-causing strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli are normally associated with tainted meat products. However, between 20-30% of these are caused by people eating contaminated vegetables, as was seen in the 2011 outbreak in Europe that caused 53 deaths. Research presented at the Society for General ...

Life-style determines gut microbes

04/16/2014
The gut microbiota is responsible for many aspects of human health and nutrition, but most studies have focused on “western” populations. An international collaboration of researchers, including researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has for the first time analysed the gut microbiota of a ...

Progress in understanding immune response in severe schistosomiasis

04/16/2014
A mechanism that may help explain the severe forms of schistosomiasis, or snail fever, has been discovered by researchers. Schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases in the world. The study in mice may also offer targets for intervention and amelioration of the disease. Although schistosomiasis is not ...

How Flesh-Eating Strep Bacteria Evolved into an Epidemic

04/16/2014
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 antibiotics. It’s all the more troubling when ...

Phage 'cocktail' wipes out 99 percent of E. coli in meat, spinach

04/15/2014
Treating food products with select bacteriophages - viruses that target and kill bacteria - could significantly reduce concentrations of E. coli, a Purdue University study shows. An injection of bacteriophages - also known informally as "phages" - nearly eradicated a toxin-producing strain of E. coli in contaminated spinach and ground beef, ...

Evolution of whooping cough bacterium could reduce vaccine effectiveness

04/15/2014
The bacterium that causes whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis, has changed – most likely in response to the vaccine used to prevent the disease – with a possible reduced effectiveness of the vaccine as a result, a new study shows. A UNSW-led team of researchers analysed strains of Bordetella pertussis from across ...

Nanocrystalline cellulose modified into an efficient viral inhibitor

04/15/2014
Researchers have succeeded in creating a surface on nano-sized cellulose crystals that imitates a biological structure. The surface adsorbs viruses and disables them. The results can prove useful in the development of antiviral ointments and surfaces, for instance. There are many viral diseases in the world for which no pharmaceutical treatment ...

Community-based HIV prevention can boost testing, help reduce new infections

04/15/2014
Communities in Africa and Thailand that worked together on HIV-prevention efforts saw not only a rise in HIV screening but a drop in new infections, according to a new study in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet Global Health. The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health's Project Accept — a trial ...

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

04/15/2014
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, researchers had assumed that the amoeba, ...

Deadly Virus's Spread Raises Alarms in Mideast

04/14/2014
Saudi Arabia on Sunday confirmed a surge of cases of a deadly virus in the kingdom over the past two weeks, even as it tried to counter criticism that it wasn't doing enough to contain the outbreak. The United Arab Emirates over the weekend separately announced six confirmed cases of Middle ...

Genetic Defect May Confer Resistance to Certain Viral Infections

04/14/2014
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study reports that a rare genetic disease, while depleting patients of infection-fighting antibodies, may actually protect them from certain severe or recurrent viral infections. Researchers found that HIV and influenza viruses replicate in the cells of people with congenital disorder of glycosylation type IIb ...

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

04/14/2014
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 for present day inter-bacterial endosymbiosis ...

4 Ways Tiny Microbes Changed Life on Earth Forever

04/11/2014
This is the microbes' world—we just live in it. Throughout the history of Earth, microbes have radically reshaped life on the planet, from creating the very air we breath to wiping out almost all life on Earth. Don't underestimate the power of tiny, tiny microbes populating the Earth trillions of ...

What Happens to Bacteria in Space?

04/11/2014
In the otherwise barren space 220 miles above Earth's surface, a capsule of life-sustaining oxygen and water orbits at 17,000 miles per hour. You might know this capsule as the International Space Station (ISS), currently home to six humans—and untold billions of bacteria. Microbes have always followed us to the ...

Researchers Discover Possible New Target To Attack Flu Virus

04/11/2014
Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a protein produced by the influenza A virus helps it outwit one of our body's natural defense mechanisms. That makes the protein a potentially good target for antiviral drugs directed against the influenza A virus. Better antiviral drugs could help ...

Evolutionary Battle Explains Why Fruit Spoils

04/10/2014
There’s a hidden war going on for your fruit. The apple snatchers and orange thieves aren’t what you might think, though. Humans and other fruit-loving species are locked in an ongoing evolutionary battle against the microbes that also want to feast. Now, researchers believe they have found out why competition ...

Predicting the virulence of MRSA from its genome sequence

04/10/2014
Microbial virulence is a complex and often multifactorial phenotype, intricately linked to a pathogen’s evolutionary trajectory. Toxicity, the ability to destroy host cell membranes, and adhesion, the ability to adhere to human tissues, are the major virulence factors of many bacterial pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. Here, we assayed the toxicity ...

Antibiotic resistance enzyme caught in the act

04/10/2014
Resistance to an entire class of antibiotics – aminoglycosides -- has the potential to spread to many types of bacteria, according to new biochemistry research. A mobile gene called NpmA was discovered in E. coli bacteria several years ago. Global spread of NpmA and related antibiotic resistance enzymes could disable ...

Immune cell ‘defenders’ could beat invading bacteria

04/10/2014
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 defence, and what happens when it ...

Cordyceps: attack of the killer fungi

04/10/2014
The video shows an ant that is infected with a fungus called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, which has both infiltrated and commandeered its body. While it devours the ant alive, it also sends its zombified host scurrying up a plant stem. The ant walks along the underside of a leaf and vigorously ...

Microgravity research helping to understand the fungi within

04/10/2014
(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 ...

Bacterial 'FM radio' developed

04/10/2014
Programming living cells offers the prospect of harnessing sophisticated biological machinery for transformative applications in energy, agriculture, water remediation and medicine. Inspired by engineering, researchers in the emerging field of synthetic biology have designed a tool box of small genetic components that act as intracellular switches, logic gates, counters and ...

This Spinning Disk Can Detect Salmonella In 30 Minutes

04/10/2014
Analytical Chemistry Researchers have created a spinning disk that can quickly tell--within 30 minutes--if food samples contain Salmonella. The most widely-used method to test for the pathogen involves growing out samples on petri dishes and can take days so this has potential to be much quicker and cheaper, according to ...

Bacteria Turn Plants and Insects into Zombies

04/10/2014
Many parasites commandeer the bodies of their hosts in order to spread. Examples of this include horsehair worms that reach water by forcing their cricket hosts to drown themselves, and liver flukes that drive infected ants to climb blades of grass, where cows can eat the insects, and so the ...

Amoeba Takes Bites of Human Cells to Kill Them

04/10/2014
Amoebae — a group of amorphous, single-celled organisms that live in the human body — can kill human cells by biting off chunks of intestinal cells until they die, a new study finds. This is the first time scientists have seen this method of cell killing, and the new findings ...

Otago research sheds new light on key bacterial immune system

04/08/2014
New insights into a surprisingly flexible immune system present in bacteria for combating viruses and other foreign DNA invaders have been revealed by researchers from the University of Otago and the Netherlands. A team led by Dr Peter Fineran of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology are studying the genetic basis ...

Antimicrobial from soaps promotes bacteria buildup in human noses

04/08/2014
An antimicrobial agent found in common household soaps, shampoos and toothpastes may be finding its way inside human noses where it promotes the colonization of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and could predispose some people to infection. Researchers at the University of Michigan report their findings this week in a study published ...

Bacterial Gut Biome May Guide Colon Cancer Progression

04/08/2014
Colorectal cancer develops in what is probably the most complex environment in the human body, a place where human cells cohabitate with a colony of approximately 10 trillion bacteria, most of which are unknown. At the 2014 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in San Diego, researchers from The ...

Think We're Rid of Measles? Think Again

04/08/2014
Over the last few weeks, the numerous outbreaks of measles in Canada have led many public health officials and microbiologists to shake their collective heads. The reason is simple: this should not be happening. Of all the pathogenic viruses, this one has been on our radar for nearly 200 years ...

The pathogen detectives: sourcing the post-earthquake cholera outbreak in Haiti

04/08/2014
Natural disasters such as earthquakes can have far-reaching effects beyond the damage caused on the day they occur. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti damaged the already limited sanitation systems leading to areas without adequate toilet and washing facilities; perfect for the spread of infection diseases. Sure enough 9 months following ...

Dairy scientist targets heat-resistant microbes

04/08/2014
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 can affect consumer health and shorten ...

Lassa Fever Reported in U.S. Traveler to West Africa

04/07/2014
A Minnesota man who returned from a trip to West Africa has been diagnosed with Lassa fever, a severe and sometimes deadly viral disease rarely seen in the United States, health officials said. The man, who was hospitalized with fever and confusion on March 31, was confirmed to have Lassa fever ...

Clostridium thermocellum

04/07/2014
Monolayer biofilms of the Clostridium thermocellum bacterium (in situ and in vivo). Credit: Mr. Alexandru Dumitrache University of Toronto Toronto, Canada Olympus Bioscapes 2013 Honorable Mention.

Cancer virus discovery helped by delayed flight

04/07/2014
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 ...

Scientists Generate 3D Structure for the Malaria Parasite Genome

04/07/2014
A research team led by a cell biologist at the University of California, Riverside has generated a 3D model of the human malaria parasite genome at three different stages in the parasite’s life cycle — the first time such 3D architecture has been generated during the progression of the life ...

Risk of dengue fever epidemic in Europe

04/07/2014
The risk of dengue fever beginning to spread in Europe is imminent. According to researchers from Umeå University, this is no longer just an issue for the scientific community but also for politicians and policy makers, who need to be prepared and develop preventive measures. With a changing climate and rising ...

The Oldest Gem Tells its Tale

04/07/2014
Modern Earth is nothing like it was in its early days. Our planet was formed some 4.56 billion years ago when a giant stellar cloud collapsed on itself due its massive size and gravitational force. The explosion also generated the sun and many other planetary bodies, including those that would ...

Bacteria get new badge as planet's detoxifier

04/04/2014
A study published recently in PLOS ONE authored by Dr. Henry Sun and his postdoctoral student Dr. Gaosen Zhang of Nevada based research institute DRI provides new evidence that Earth bacteria can do something that is quite unusual. Despite the fact that these bacteria are made of left-handed (L) amino ...

Hawaii, Other States Calling Dibs On Official State Bacteria

04/04/2014
State legislators like to claim official symbols for nearly everything. There are state birds, state dinosaurs, even a state question (New Mexico's “Red or green?”). The South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato is both Arkansas's official fruit and its vegetable. Nebraska’s official drink is water. And Maryland's official state sport ...

Structural insights into inner workings of viral nanomachine

04/04/2014
Researchers are using new nanoscale imaging approaches to shed light on the dynamic activities of rotaviruses, important pathogens that cause life-threatening diarrhea in young children. Once a rotavirus enters a host cell, it sheds its outermost protein layer, leaving behind a double-layered particle (DLP). These DLPs are the form of ...

Understanding how an E coli clone has spread so far so quickly

04/03/2014
Scientists have for the first time come closer to understanding how a clone of E coli, described as the most important of its kind to cause human infections, has spread across the world in a very short time. E coli clone ST131 is one of the leading causes of ...

Mutant wheat fungus alarms food experts

04/03/2014
JOHANNESBURG, 2 April 2014 (IRIN) - Outbreaks of a deadly fungal disease in wheat crops in Germany and Ethiopia in 2013 have had the scientific community buzzing over the threat posed to global food security. Wheat stem rust, also known as wheat black rust, is often referred to as ...

Mapping The Hidden Universe In Your Kitchen

04/03/2014
On a recent morning, Noah Fierer, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, found himself standing 1,000 feet above the farmland of eastern Colorado. He was perched near the pinnacle of the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory, a cellphone-tower-like spire built in 1977 to conduct climate ...

Antibiotics Have Turned Our Bodies From Gardens Into Battlefields

04/03/2014
We’re in the midst of an extinction crisis, and it doesn’t involve Siberian tigers. Microbiologist Martin Blaser of New York University School of Medicine says that many species of germs are disappearing from our bodies—and that’s a problem. In his new book, Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is ...

The Way You’re Born Can Mess With the Microbes You Need to Survive

04/03/2014
Throughout the animal kingdom, mothers transfer microbes to their young while giving birth. Different species of tadpoles acquire specific skin bacteria from mother frogs even though they all live in the same pond with the same bacterial background. Emerging chicken eggs get inoculated with microbes from a bacteria-filled pouch near ...

The Strange Connection Between Germs and Sherlock Holmes

04/02/2014
Sherlock Holmes was as much a scientist as a detective. Maybe that’s because his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was influenced by a detective of science: Robert Koch, a German doctor who helped prove the existence of germs. In his new book, The Remedy, Thomas Goetz traces connections between the two ...

New yeast species travelled the globe with a little help from the beetles

04/02/2014
Researchers from the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) have identified a new globe-trotting yeast species that lives on tree-associated beetles. This new species demonstrates the importance of preserving biodiversity, as yeasts like this may help efforts to develop renewable fuel sources in ...

'Paleo Ale' Brewed From Yeast Found On A 40-Million-Year-Old Whale Fossil

04/02/2014
A Virginia brewer soon plans to serve a beer made from yeast found hanging out on a 40-million-year-old whale fossil, the blog Symbiartic reports. Depending on your disposition, I imagine you're reacting in one of two ways right now, "Yecchh!" or "Cool!" The beer will be called Bone Dusters Paleo ...

Avoid Getting Sick: Top 8 Germiest Public Places Exposed

04/02/2014
Worried about you or your kids picking up the flu virus or other common illnesses at school, in restrooms or at the mall? There’s good reason: Viruses and bacteria run rampant on the surfaces you touch every day. We blow the lid on the 8 germiest public places and give ...

Versatility in Genetic Expression Aids Rapid Microbial Evolution

04/01/2014
Microbiologists from Trinity College Dublin have discovered that an identical protein is used differently by two species of bacteria to help them cope with distinct types of environmental stress. The discovery reveals an extraordinary level of versatility in the way different genes are ‘switched on’ in bacteria, which in turn ...

Evolving superbug threatens to create an infection tsunami

04/01/2014
An international study led by The University of Queensland has tracked a potentially devastating multi-drug resistant E. coli strain that is only one gene away from being resistant to almost all antibiotics. UQ Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre scientist Dr Nouri Ben Zakour said the emergence and rapid spread of E. ...

Nano-paper filter can remove viruses

04/01/2014
Researchers at the Division of Nanotechnology and Functional Materials, Uppsala University have developed a paper filter, which can remove virus particles with an efficiency matching that of the best industrial virus filters. The paper filter consists of 100 percent high purity cellulose nanofibers, directly derived from nature. The research was ...

Tamiflu-resistant influenza: parsing the genome for the culprits

04/01/2014
It doesn’t take long for the flu virus to outsmart Tamiflu. EPFL scientists have developed a tool that reveals the mutations that make the virus resistant, and they have identified new mutations that may render ineffective one of the few treatments currently available on the market. Tamiflu is one of ...

Proteins discovered in gonorrhea may offer new approach to treatment

04/01/2014
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered novel proteins in, or on the surface of the bacteria that causes gonorrhea, which offer a promising new avenue of attack against a venereal disease that is showing increased resistance to the antibiotics used to treat it. Only a single, third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic still ...

Ancient whodunit may be solved: The microbes did it!

04/01/2014
Methane-producing microbes may be responsible for the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history. Evidence left at the crime scene is abundant and global: Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out — by far the largest of ...

Fungus May Block Alzheimer's Protein

03/31/2014
Some natural types of fungus appear to inhibit the build-up of tau—a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. “Tau is a protein that is produced by the body,” says T. Chris Gamblin, associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas. “It’s found primarily in neurons in ...

Ancient buried treasure found in daisy seeds

03/31/2014
By tracing the evolutionary origin of a drug-like protein ring found in sunflowers, Australian and US scientists have discovered a diverse, 18-million-year-old group of buried proteins in daisy seeds. Researchers at The University of Western Australia, working with academics from The University of Queensland, CSIRO, La Trobe University, The University of ...

Baker's Yeast Gets a Genetic Makeover

03/31/2014
The humble baker's yeast has been enlisted to serve the needs of humanity, responsible for beer, wine and bread, among other staples. A domesticated servant for at least millennia, the microscopic fungus has now had one of its chromosomes swapped out by a host of undergraduate students in favor of ...

Are tiny microbes outwitting us to steal our food?

03/31/2014
It's long been know that microbes are to blame for food going off and becoming rotten but in the late 1970's, Dan Janzen of the University of Pennsylvania, and a winner of ecology's version of the Nobel Prize, suggested that making something rotten may be to the advantage of the ...

Ancient Virus DNA Gives Stem Cells the Power to Transform

03/31/2014
A virus that invaded the genomes of humanity's ancestors millions of years ago now plays a critical role in the embryonic stem cells from which all cells in the human body derive, new research shows. The discovery sheds light on the role viruses play in human evolution and could help scientists ...

From Geology to Biology: A Serpentine Story of Early Life

03/31/2014
Over 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth was a superheated sphere of molten rock, radiating heat to space at over 2000 K. A billion years later, it had global oceans, teeming with microorganisms. In that time, the Earth underwent massive geological changes, somehow serendipitously creating conditions right enough to lead ...

New probiotic improves pig health, reduces manure output

03/28/2014
A new probiotic for pigs could mean less manure to manage, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists conducted the first published investigation of the use of bacteria as a probiotic to increase fiber fermentation rates and reduce manure output in pigs that consume ...

Computing with Slime

03/28/2014
A future computer might be a lot slimier than the solid silicon devices we have today. In a study published in the journal Materials Today, European researchers reveal details of logic units built using living slime molds, which might act as the building blocks for computing devices and sensors. Click on ...

Using tobacco to thwart West Nile virus

03/28/2014
An international research group led by Arizona State University professor Qiang "Shawn" Chen has developed a new generation of potentially safer and more cost-effective therapeutics against West Nile virus, and other pathogens. The therapeutics, known as monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and their derivatives, were shown to neutralize and protect mice against ...

Researchers Identify Protein That Helps Control Common Viral Infection

03/28/2014
Infectious disease specialists at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center have identified a protein that regulates the body’s immune response to cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common pathogen that causes lifelong infections and can lead to devastating illness in newborns and those with weakened immune systems. Click on 'source' for full article.

Pathogens in Cheese – Researchers Follow the Traces of Deadly Bacteria

03/28/2014
If food products are not produced in a hygienic environment, consumers can face the threat of dangerous pathogens. This is exactly what happened in 2009 and 2010 when two different strains of Listeria monocytogenes were found in the traditional Austrian curd cheese known as “Quargel”. 34 people were infected, and ...

Rotavirus Activates Lymphocytes from Non-Obese Diabetic Mice by Triggering Toll-Like Receptor 7 Signaling and Interferon Production in Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells

03/28/2014
It has been proposed that rotavirus infection promotes the progression of genetically-predisposed children to type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease marked by infiltration of activated lymphocytes into pancreatic islets. Non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice provide a model for the human disease. Click on 'source' for full article.

Oral Bacteria and Cancer

03/28/2014
Over a number of years, epidemiological studies established several well-defined risk factors for cancer, including age, heredity, diet, tobacco use, chronic viral infections, and inflammation. Paradoxically, the success of these studies left little room for incorporation of any new factors or causative agents, and, consequently, the idea that a bacterial ...

Engineered Bacteria Produce Biofuel Alternative for High-Energy Rocket Fuel

03/27/2014
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications. With improvements in process efficiency, the biofuel could supplement limited supplies ...

Resistance is Not Futile: Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Engineer Resistance to Ionic Liquids in Biofuel Microbes

03/27/2014
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a multi-institutional partnership led by Berkeley Lab, have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels. The ...

Fauci: Robust Research Efforts Needed to Address Ongoing, Global Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance

03/27/2014
Given the evolutionary ability of microbes to rapidly adapt, the threat of antimicrobial resistance likely will never be eliminated. Today, many factors compound the problem, including the inappropriate use of antibiotics and a dwindling supply of new medicines, leading to a global crisis of antimicrobial resistance. This crisis must ...

Five new Listeria species found; may improve tests

03/27/2014
Cornell researchers have discovered five new species of a group of bacteria called Listeria – including one named for Cornell – that provide new insights that could lead to better ways to detect soil bacteria in food. To date, of the 10 previously known species of Listeria, only two are ...

Catheter Innovation Destroys Dangerous Biofilms

03/25/2014
For the millions of people forced to rely on a plastic tube to eliminate their urine, developing an infection is nearly a 100 percent guarantee after just four weeks. But with the help of a little bubble-blowing, biomedical engineers hope to bring relief to urethras everywhere. About half of the time, ...

Researchers Find Rising Incidence of Patients Admitted With Infections Resistant To Common Antibiotics

03/25/2014
The emergence of community-acquired infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTI), due to strains resistant to common antibiotics are on the rise, according to Rhode Island Hospital researchers. The study is published online in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control. “Over the last several years, we’ve seen an increase in ...

Small peptides as potential antibiotics

03/25/2014
Small peptides attack bacteria in many different ways and may well become a new generation of antibiotics. Biologists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have been researching how such peptides kill bacterial cells. "It is quite possible that, in ten years time, all of the currently marketed antibiotics will lose their ...

Canadian man in hospital with Ebola-like virus

03/25/2014
A man is in hospital in Canada with symptoms of a haemorrhagic fever resembling the Ebola virus, a health official has said. The man had recently returned from Liberia in the west African region, currently suffering a deadly outbreak of an unidentified haemorrhagic fever. He is in isolation in critical condition in ...

New 'gut bacteria' clinical study could help reduce side-effects of radiotherapy

03/25/2014
Researchers will examine the role of gut bacteria in influencing the side-effects patients experience after radiotherapy, in the first clinical study of its type. The study will be carried out by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust alongside colleagues from Imperial College ...

Scientists develop world’s first light-activated antimicrobial surface that also works in the dark

03/25/2014
Researchers at UCL have developed a new antibacterial material which has potential for cutting hospital acquired infections. The combination of two simple dyes with nanoscopic particles of gold is deadly to bacteria when activated by light - even under modest indoor lighting. And in a first for this type of ...

Researchers find way to reduce E. coli in cows, improving food safety

03/25/2014
A new biological treatment could help dairy cattle stave off uterine diseases and eventually may help improve food safety for humans, a University of Florida study shows. Kwang Cheol Jeong, an assistant professor in animal sciences and UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, examined cattle uterine illnesses because they can make cows infertile, ...

At least 59 people dead in Guinea Ebola outbreak

03/24/2014
An Ebola outbreak has killed at least 59 people in Guinea, UNICEF said, as the deadly hemorrhagic fever has quickly spread from southern communities in the West African nation. Experts in the country had been unable to identify the disease, whose symptoms -- diarrhea, vomiting and fever -- were first observed ...

New childhood TB cases double earlier estimates

03/24/2014
esearchers from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) have estimated that around 1 million children contract tuberculosis (TB) annually — twice the number previously thought to have the disease and three times the number of cases diagnosed every year. The researchers also estimated that around ...

Shifting evolution into reverse promises cheaper, greener way to make new drugs

03/24/2014
By shifting evolution into reverse, it may be possible to use “green chemistry” to make a number of costly synthetic drugs as easily and cheaply as brewing beer. Normally, both evolution and synthetic chemistry proceed from the simple to the complex. Small molecules are combined and modified to make larger ...

Engineers design ‘living materials’ - Hybrid materials combine bacterial cells with nonliving elements that can conduct electricity or emit light

03/24/2014
Inspired by natural materials such as bone — a matrix of minerals and other substances, including living cells — MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells, which respond ...

Stopping malaria transmission: A Virginia Tech biochemist is out for blood

03/24/2014
Fighting malaria in today’s world will require a new, targeted approach, and Virginia Tech researchers are out for blood. The parasites responsible for the mosquito-borne infectious disease are increasingly resistant to current drug approaches, and almost half of the world is at risk of contracting an illness. Maria Belen Cassera, an ...

Drugs fail to reawaken dormant HIV infection

03/24/2014
Scientists report that compounds they hoped would "wake up" dormant reservoirs of HIV inside immune system T cells -- a strategy designed to reverse latency and make the cells vulnerable to destruction -- have failed to do so in laboratory tests of such white blood cells taken directly from patients ...

Six to Tango

03/24/2014
One genome at a time can be exciting, but two even more so. I’m not entirely sure why this is, although it may explain our fascination with sex. And what if more than two entities were involved? What if the intimacy were not just between two individual organisms, but between ...

Comeback of an abandoned antibiotic

03/21/2014
Trimethoprim is more effective against streptococci than expected. Scarlet fever and infections of the skin and throat are often caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes. In less-developed countries, inexpensive and well-tolerated antibiotics for therapy are often not available. Scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, ...

Nanovaccines that need no-refrigeration could curb diseases in remote areas

03/21/2014
A new kind of single-dose vaccine that comes in a nasal spray and doesn't require refrigeration could dramatically alter the public health landscape - get more people vaccinated around the world and address the looming threats of emerging and re-emerging diseases. Researchers presented the latest design and testing of these ...

Brighter future for bacteria detection

03/21/2014
Ever wonder why fruits and vegetables sometimes hit the shelves contaminated by pathogenic bacteria such as listeria, E. coli, and salmonella? According to Tim Lu, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering at MIT, it boils down to the inefficient bacteria-detection assays used in the food industry. In ...

A Non-Coding RNA Promotes Bacterial Persistence and Decreases Virulence by Regulating a Regulator in Staphylococcus aureus

03/21/2014
Staphylococcus aureus is a commensal and an opportunistic pathogen that causes a large range of community and hospital-acquired infections. The bacteria produce an array of virulence factors, the expression of which is regulated by a set of regulators including proteins and RNAs. In recent years, a large number of small ...

Mycobacteriophages: Windows into Tuberculosis

03/21/2014
Mycobacteriophages are viruses that infect mycobacterial hosts, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium smegmatis. Mycobacteriophages display a remarkable genetic diversity. About 30 distinct types (called clusters, or singletons if they have no relatives) that share little or no nucleotide sequence similarity have been identified. The increased prevalence of antibiotic resistance ...

Aggregates of symbiotic/ commensal spiroplasma-like organisms (SLOs) in the midgut

03/18/2014
Spiroplasmas are bacteria in the Class Mollicutes that are frequently associated with insects and/or plants. This confocal laser scanning micrographs show aggregates of symbiotic/ commensal spiroplasma-like organisms (SLOs) in the midgut (mg) and filter chamber (fc) of a leafhopper, Dalbulus maidis. Large accumulations of these SLOs (bright red areas, asterisks) ...

Thank Your Gut Bacteria For Making Chocolate 'Healthy'

03/18/2014
Boy, it's a good time to be a dark chocolate lover. We've noted before the growing evidence that a daily dose of the bitter bean may help reduce blood pressure. There also seems to be a link between a regular chocolate habit and lower body weight. Now scientists are offering an explanation ...

Bacterial Reporters Get the Scoop - Engineered bacteria pave the way to living diagnostics and therapeutics

03/18/2014
It’s a jungle in there. In the tightly woven ecosystem of the human gut, trillions of bacteria compete with one another on a daily basis while they sense and react to signals from the immune system, ingested food and other bacteria. Problems arise when bad gut bugs overtake friendly ones, ...

Turning Food Waste Into Fuel Takes Gumption And Trillions Of Bacteria

03/18/2014
Every year, Americans send millions of tons of food to the landfill. What if you could use all of those pizza crusts and rotten vegetables to heat your home? That's already happening in one unlikely laboratory: the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn. The plant's longtime superintendent, Jimmy Pynn, shows ...

Hepatitis C Remains Major Problem for HIV Patients Despite Antiretroviral Therapy

03/18/2014
A new study led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that the risk of hepatitis C-associated serious liver disease persists in HIV patients otherwise benefitting from antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV. It has been suggested that ART slows hepatitis C-associated liver ...

Laser Tags Salmonella in Less Than a Day

03/17/2014
A new laser sensor identifies Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples in less than 24 hours, about three times faster than conventional methods. “BARDOT allows us to detect Salmonella much earlier and more easily than current methods,” says Arun Bhunia, professor of food science at Purdue University, who collaborated with then-Purdue ...

Fighting antibiotic resistance with ‘molecular drill bits’

03/17/2014
In response to drug-resistant “superbugs” that send millions of people to hospitals around the world, scientists are building tiny, “molecular drill bits” that kill bacteria by bursting through their protective cell walls. They presented some of the latest developments on these drill bits, better known to scientists as antimicrobial peptides ...

Three quarters of people with seasonal, pandemic flu have no symptoms

03/17/2014
Around 1 in 5 of the population were infected in both recent outbreaks of seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, but just 23% of these infections caused symptoms, and only 17% of people were ill enough to consult their doctor. These findings come from a major new community-based ...

The Surprising Way Bacteria 'Talks' To Each Other

03/17/2014
Amidst the myriad of political mechanisms, resistance is the most known. From grassroots picketing to national boycotts to a mass of millions congregating in a country's capital, the practice of protest is as old as civilization. Venturing into the resistance world brings an entirely unique experience, in which the participants ...

The Bacterial Chromosome: A Physical Biologist's Apology. A Perspective.

03/17/2014
I entered the bacterial chromosome field in 2004 as a fresh Ph.D. trained in theoretical physics. Ten years is not long enough for one to gain the depth and breadth of a scientific discipline of long history, certainly not for an early career scientist to write an essay of the ...

Gut bacteria may be best defense against nasty germs

03/13/2014
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise, making it more and more difficult to treat infections. But research suggests that the best defense against harmful bugs could be a healthy population of “good” gut bacteria. The human relationship with microbial life is complicated. At almost any supermarket, you can pick up ...

What’s eating you? The first food web inside humans suggests potential new treatments for infection

03/13/2014
Imagine going to the doctor with an infection and being sent home with a course of drugs. Unknown to your doctor you actually have two infections. If you take the drugs will the other infection go away by itself? What if you take the drugs and the other infection gets ...

A New Future for Anti-viral Therapy

03/13/2014
Extramural basic research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, funded by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory – Army Research Office (ARL-ARO), has led to discoveries of the biochemical mechanisms for viral growth and of an unprecedented method that may inhibit viral replication. These fundamental discoveries may enable the design ...

Commonly used pain relievers have added benefit of fighting bacterial infection

03/13/2014
Some commonly used drugs that combat aches and pains, fever, and inflammation are also thought to have the ability to kill bacteria. New research reveals that these drugs, better known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, act on bacteria in a way that is fundamentally different from current antibiotics. The discovery could ...

Molecule Plays Important Role in Triggering Immune Response

03/13/2014
The nucleoside adenosine—a tiny chemical structure made up of a simple base linked to a sugar—is critical for the regulation of bodily functions ranging from blood flow to tissue repair to sleep. Now, researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School show that adenosine is essential in promoting ...

Battling Infection With Microbes

03/12/2014
The human relationship with microbial life is complicated. At almost any supermarket, you can pick up both antibacterial soap and probiotic yogurt during the same shopping trip. Although there are types of bacteria that can make us sick, Caltech professor of biology and biological engineering Sarkis Mazmanian and his team ...

Bacterium and Fungus Team Up to Cause Virulent Tooth Decay in Toddlers

03/12/2014
Early childhood caries, a highly aggressive and painful form of tooth decay that frequently occurs in preschool children, especially from backgrounds of poverty, may result from a nefarious partnership between a bacterium and a fungus, according to a paper published ahead of print in the journal Infection and Immunity. Click on ...

How a Common Fungus Is Protecting the Earth from a Climate Change Nightmare

03/12/2014
There is more carbon dioxide stored in the ground than in the air around us. If those all that greenhouse gas escapes, it could be catastrophic for the earth. Now, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin thinks he’s found the key that keeps much of it locked ...

Mix Of Gut Microbes May Play Role In Crohn's Disease

03/12/2014
More than a million Americans suffer from Crohn's, which seems to start when an overreactive immune system causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, bleeding, weight loss and other symptoms. Many patients have to take powerful steroids (which can have serious side effects), and some have parts of the digestive tract surgically removed. ...

Feeding the gut microbiota: nutrition and probiotics are key factors for digestive health

03/11/2014
A healthy and balanced diet, as well as probiotics, have been known to be helpful in preserving gastrointestinal health for quite a long time. But it is only recently that the underlying mechanisms have become somewhat clearer. A rapidly increasing body of knowledge promises to further clarify the effects of ...

A tricky balancing act: antibiotics versus the gut microbiota

03/11/2014
Antibiotics are valuable, potentially life-saving tools that have significantly reduced human morbidity and mortality. Unfortunately, antibiotics may also have unintended consequences from their off-target effects that may increase the risk of many long-term conditions. Recent epidemiologic studies have detected a possible link between antibiotic use in childhood and weight gain1 ...

More than just bacteria: the importance of microbial diversity in gut health and disease

03/11/2014
The gut microbiota contains a vast number of microorganisms from all three domains of life, including bacteria, archaea and fungi, as well as viruses. These interact in a complex way to contribute towards both health and the development of disease — interactions that are only now being elucidated thanks to ...

Harvard Scientists Identify Microbe that “Eats” Electricity

03/11/2014
In a new study, Harvard scientists show that the bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris can use natural conductivity to pull electrons from minerals located deep in soil and sediment while remaining at the surface. Click on 'source' for full article.

Researchers prove the five second rule is real

03/11/2014
Food picked up just a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time, according to the findings of research carried out at Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences. The findings suggest there may be ...

Turning Food Waste Into Fuel Takes Gumption And Trillions Of Bacteria

03/11/2014
Every year, Americans send millions of tons of food to the landfill. What if you could use all of those pizza crusts and rotten vegetables to heat your home? That's already happening in one unlikely laboratory: the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn. Click on 'source' for full article.

Gut Microbes Respond within Days to Major Diet Changes

03/11/2014
Microbiologists have known for some time that different diets produce different gut flora, but new research indicates that the changes take hold with startling quickness. Bacterial populations shift measurably in the first few days following a big shift in what we eat, according to a recent study. Click on 'source' for ...

Secrets of the Giant, Ancient, Frozen, Killer Virus

03/10/2014
It all started with a tiny chunk of dirt. The sample of 30,000-year-old permafrost, a frozen layer of soil from the Siberian tundra, weighed just a fraction of an ounce. But, as TIME reported on Tuesday, that scrap was carrying within it a surprise worthy of a pulp comic book: ...

How virus sleuths and public health officials track the cause of a mysterious illness

03/10/2014
When a mysterious disease fells people — as happened in California recently, with as many as 20 children experiencing unexplained paralysis — teams of physicians and epidemiologists quickly mobilize. Perhaps you saw the movie “Contagion”? The idea is to find the culprit before it spreads but also to prevent public ...

Bacteria 'use language to thrive'

03/10/2014
A new study has revealed that bacteria use a form of communication similar to human language, but employing chemical signals instead of words. This language enables bacteria to thrive and researchers hope that by interpreting it they can develop new drugs to fight infections without bacteria developing a resistance to ...

Fungus Governs Soil’s Carbon Content

03/10/2014
Most of the planet’s carbon is neither in the forests nor the atmosphere. It is in the soil under your feet. US scientists think that they have identified the mechanism that keeps most of this awesome treasury of carbon locked away in the soil – or surrenders much more of ...

"Super bacteria" cleaning up after oil spills

03/10/2014
Norwegian researchers in Trondheim have achieved surprising results by exploiting nature's own ability to clean up after oil spills. We all know that marine bacteria can assist in cleaning up after oil spills. What is surprising is that given the right kind of encouragement, they can be even more effective. Click on ...

State's Flu Shot Rule for Preschoolers Helped

03/10/2014
A Connecticut law requiring flu shots for children entering preschool or daycare has reduced flu-related hospitalizations of young children by 12 percent, according to a new study. The jump in flu vaccinations of young children -- to 84 percent in 2012-2013 from about 68 percent in 2009-2010 -- is thought ...

A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami

03/10/2014
Perhaps you’ve punched out a paper doll or folded an origami swan? TED Fellow Manu Prakash and his team have created a microscope made of paper that's just as easy to fold and use. A sparkling demo that shows how this invention could revolutionize healthcare in developing countries … and ...

Scientists create accurate predictor of the next year’s flu virus

03/06/2014
Influenza viruses evolve rapidly, making it hard to develop protective vaccines against them. Despite a great deal of effort, scientists have found it difficult to forecast which way the virus’ evolution would take it. Now, thanks to improvements in our ability to study viruses and a new mathematical model, anticipating ...

First Look at How Individual Staphylococcus Cells Adhere to Nanostructures Could Lead to New Ways to Thwart Infections

03/06/2014
The bacterium Staphylococcus Aureus (S. aureus) is a common source of infections that occur after surgeries involving prosthetic joints and artificial heart valves. The grape-shaped microorganism adheres to medical equipment, and if it gets inside the body, it can cause a serious and even life-threatening illness called a Staph infection. ...

Immune upgrade gives 'HIV shielding'

03/06/2014
Doctors have used gene therapy to upgrade the immune system of 12 patients with HIV to help shield them from the virus's onslaught. It raises the prospect of patients no longer needing to take daily medication to control their infection. The patients' white blood cells were taken out of the ...

Photonic tweezers can pick up a single virus with light

03/06/2014
A new device from Macquarie University can manipulate objects as small as 50 nanometers wide — about a thousandth of the width of a human hair and small enough to allow direct manipulation of a single viral capsule. Click on 'source' to read full article.

Maize Plus Bacteria: One-Two Punch Knocks Copper Out of Stamp Sand

03/06/2014
Scientists have known for years that together, bacteria and plants can remediate contaminated sites. Ramakrishna Wusirika, of Michigan Technological University, has determined that how you add bacteria to the mix can make a big difference. Wusirika has also shed light on the biochemical pathways that allow plants and bacteria to ...

Warmer temperatures push malaria to higher elevations

03/06/2014
Researchers have debated for more than two decades the likely impacts, if any, of global warming on the worldwide incidence of malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that infects more than 300 million people each year. University of Michigan ecologists and their colleagues are reporting the first hard evidence that malaria does—as ...

New Wearable Device Could Protect Against HIV and Pregnancy

03/06/2014
If a sexually active woman wants to protect herself from unwanted pregnancy and HIV using a single method, she has always been limited to condoms. A new paper, released today in PLOS ONE details a first-of-its-kind device that provides an alternative. Click on 'source' to read full artlicle.

Hop leaves — discarded in beer brewing — have substances that could fight dental diseases

03/06/2014
Beer drinkers know that hops are what gives the drink its bitterness and aroma. Recently, scientists reported that the part of hops that isn’t used for making beer contains healthful antioxidants and could be used to battle cavities and gum disease. In a new study in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural ...

Baby born with AIDS in Los Angeles may be cured of virus, doctors hope

03/05/2014
Doctors are reporting a second instance of a baby born with AIDS going into remission, or possibly cured, by aggressive treatment after birth. The first case, a child from Mississippi who is now 3 1/2, was reported last April. Doctors revealed the case Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Boston. ...

What Gut Bacteria Might Have To Do With Colorectal Cancer Risk

03/05/2014
While genetics likely play a role in some instances of colorectal cancer, a new study in mice suggests gut bacteria could also influence development of intestinal tumors. Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that giving antibiotics to mice to disrupt their microbial gut population led ...

Why Do Bacteria Thrive in Space?

03/05/2014
For reasons that still aren't well understood, bacteria proliferate in microgravity. Creating a potential recipe for disaster for humans stationed in space for long periods, bacteria's love of low-g also raises an intriguing question: Why are they so comfortable there? Click on source for full article.

A Cheap, Promising Way to Filter Water: Through A Twig

03/05/2014
One way to avoid getting sick while traveling is to only eat fruit that you peel yourself, since plants can filter out bacteria and prevent it from traveling throughout their tissues. Well, why not apply this principle to filtering water directly? A team of scientists have done just that, ...

Studies Show Big Advance In HIV Prevention

03/05/2014
Exciting research suggests that a shot every one to three months may someday give an alternative to the daily pills that some people take now to cut their risk of getting HIV. The experimental drug has only been tested for prevention in monkeys, but it completely protected them from infection ...

The Science of Cheese Is Weirder Than You Think

03/05/2014
The science behind the transformation from plants to milk to cheese is amazing. In fact, cheese has much in common with wine and beer: They result from fermentation by microorganisms; they are “value-added” products where processing greatly increases the value; and they reflect local climate and terrain. Cheese has fascinated ...

Giant virus resurrected from 30,000-year-old ice

03/04/2014
In what seems like a plot straight out of a low-budget science-fiction film, scientists have revived a giant virus that was buried in Siberian ice for 30,000 years — and it is still infectious. Its targets, fortunately, are amoebae, but the researchers suggest that as Earth's ice melts, this could ...

Disease-causing bacterial invaders aided by failure of immune system switch

03/03/2014
Immune system defenses against dangerous bacteria in the gut can be breached by turning off a single molecular switch that governs production of the protective mucus lining our intestinal walls, according to a study led by researchers at Yale, the University of British Columbia, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. “This ...

In first moments of infection, a division and a decision

03/03/2014
Using technologies and computational modeling that trace the destiny of single cells, researchers describe for the first time the earliest stages of fate determination among white blood cells called T lymphocytes, providing new insights that may help drug developers create more effective, longer-lasting vaccines against microbial pathogens or cancer. Click "source" ...

Study of Antibody Evolution Charts Course toward HIV Vaccine (press release)

03/03/2014
In an advance for HIV vaccine research, a scientific team has discovered how the immune system makes a powerful antibody that blocks HIV infection of cells by targeting a site on the virus called V1V2. Many researchers believe that if a vaccine could elicit potent antibodies to a specific ...

A Mouthful Of Microbes

03/03/2014
After watching Hollywood movies of medieval knights with neat haircuts and bright smiles, it may shock you to be reminded that our dear medieval cousins looked anything but clean. The truth is that hygiene was not a top priority in the Middle Ages and germs were in heaven. This was ...

A Simple Tree Branch Can Become a Backyard Water Filter

02/28/2014
For people in too many developing countries, clean water is often a luxury. Chlorine treatments are too expensive for small villages, boiling requires a hefty investment in fuel, and UV radiation demands regular high-tech maintenance. But now, scientists say that a simple, inexpensive water filter might be only a tree ...

Light zaps viruses: How photosensitization can stop viruses from infecting cells

02/28/2014
A UCLA-led team of researchers has found evidence that photosensitizing a virus's membrane covering can inhibit its ability to enter cells and potentially lead to the development of stronger, cheaper medications to fight a host of tough viruses. The UCLA AIDS Institute study, published in the February issue of the ...

Brisbane’s drinking water linked to infections

02/28/2014
Brisbane's water supply has been found to contain disease carrying bugs which can be directly linked to infections in some patients, according to a new study by QUT. Dr Rachel Thomson, who has completed her PhD through QUT's Faculty of Health, said certain species of nontuberculous mycobacteria were present in Brisbane's ...

Knitted bacterium tour Glasgow to drum up more woolly bugs for world record bid

02/27/2014
Glasgow’s army of knitters are being asked to craft a friend for the bug, who has been snapped throughout the city looking for other microbes to play with. The smiling bacteria has been pictured on Buchanan Street, by the Science Centre and outside Central Station. The microbe is part of ...

Ancient Mysteries of Leprosy

02/27/2014
Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is finally unearthing some of the ancient mysteries behind leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, which has plagued mankind throughout history. The new research findings appear in the current edition of journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. According to this new ...

Sausages made with baby poo are completely normal and super healthy, say scientists

02/27/2014
Researchers say they have discovered way to ferment sausages that could turn the fatty meat product into a health food similar to probiotic yogurts. The secret ingredient? A type of bacteria found in baby faeces. Click on 'source' to read full article.

Tiny Algae Responsible for Mysterious Fossil Whale Graveyard?

02/27/2014
Ever since a highway construction crew in Chile uncovered a fossil graveyard of some 40 prehistoric whales in 2010, with skeletons dating back more than five million years, scientists have wondered why so many giant animals died in one place. This week, a team of them proposed an answer: The ...

Scientists Figure Out How Microbes Make Wine Good

02/27/2014
Yeast aren’t the only microbes that help turn boring grapes into the delicious, seductive, complex, confusing, subtle, and totally splendiferous tonic known as wine. In addition to those well-known fermenters, a type of bacteria called Oenococcus oeni (for reasons that will be obvious to oenophiles) is responsible for some of ...

Architecture May Influence Which Microbes Surround You

02/27/2014
They have us surrounded. Even inside the spaces we build for ourselves — like homes and offices — we are a tiny minority. Invisible bacteria, fungi, and viruses outnumber us by orders of magnitude. We will always be outnumbered, but we may have a say in which microbes we’re surrounded ...

How Clean Should We Be?

02/27/2014
There's a belief that says exposing people -- especially babies and young children -- to different kinds of germs early in life can keep them from developing illnesses like asthma, allergies, and other diseases that affect the immune system. The theory, called the “hygiene hypothesis,” is that our bodies need ...

UNC researchers discover new target for dengue virus vaccine

02/27/2014
Using an experimental technique new to the dengue field, the labs of Ralph Baric, PhD, and Aravinda de Silva, PhD, showed that a molecular hinge where two regions of a protein connect is where natural human antibodies attach to dengue 3 to disable it. The finding, published in the Proceedings ...

Uncovering the secret world of the Plastisphere

02/27/2014
Scientists are revealing how microbes living on floating pieces of plastic marine debris affect the ocean ecosystem, and the potential harm they pose to invertebrates, humans and other animals. New research being presented here today delves deeper into the largely unexplored world of the “Plastisphere” – an ecological community of ...

Scientists unlock a ‘microbial Pompeii’

02/25/2014
An international team of researchers including scientists from the University of York have discovered a ‘microbial Pompeii’ preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old. The key to the discovery is the dental calculus (plaque) which preserves bacteria and microscopic particles of food on the surfaces of teeth, effectively ...

Evolution Made Easy, Courtesy of E. Coli (blog)

02/25/2014
Evolution is one of those enigmatic subjects we simply do not understand fully. We know it is a biological change at the genetic level that changes the overall nature of an organism. We're also sure that it requires a significant number of generations. Unfortunately, that means it is difficult to ...

Video of virus-sized particle trying to enter cell

02/25/2014
Tiny and swift, viruses are hard to capture on video. Now researchers at Princeton University have achieved an unprecedented look at a virus-like particle as it tries to break into and infect a cell. The technique they developed could help scientists learn more about how to deliver drugs via nanoparticles—which ...

Deadly MERS Virus Circulates Among Arabian Camels

02/25/2014
Scientists have gotten close to pinning down the origin of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a dangerous respiratory disease that emerged in Saudi Arabia 17 months ago. It turns out the MERS virus has been circulating in Arabian camels for more than two decades, scientists report in a study published Tuesday. So far ...

Vinegar kills tuberculosis and other mycobacteria (press release)

02/25/2014
The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, can effectively kill mycobacteria, even highly drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an international team of researchers from Venezuela, France, and the US reports in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Acetic acid might be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant ...

On Finding Jewels in the Junk

02/24/2014
In prokaryotes, it only takes a small jazz band to get the music grooving: piano and a rhythm section suffice. The promoter region of a gene is a tiny stage on which RNA polymerase (p) and few transcription factors (dr, b) improvise on a tune, i.e. they initiate or skip ...

Does medicine really need lab mice?

02/24/2014
Using animals to test drugs destined for humans is controversial, with critics arguing there are other ways to ensure new medicines are safe and effective. But the scientists who carry out the research say animal studies remain necessary. It is estimated that in the UK around three million mice are being ...

Professor doesn’t overlook the small things in biology

02/24/2014
Frog-killing fungi, the methods bacteria use to evade antibiotics, and the hidden microbes deep inside an Antarctic lake: These are just a few of the topics covered in “Small Things Considered,” a microbiology blog run by Moselio Schaechter. Schaechter is former president of the American Society for Microbiology and is ...

Progress Against Hepatitis C, a Sneaky Virus

02/24/2014
Forty years ago, a beloved neighbor was bedridden for weeks at a time with a mysterious ailment. She knew only that it involved her liver and that she must never drink alcohol, which would make things worse. It was decades before the cause of these debilitating flare-ups was discovered: a viral ...

CDC: 1 dead, 7 others sickened by listeria traced to cheese

02/24/2014
At least eight people came down with listeria -- and one of them died -- after, authorities believe, eating "Hispanic-style cheese." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported the outbreak, which has affected people only of Hispanic descent and living in California or Maryland. Three babies were among those ...

From the archives: life at 90°C

02/24/2014
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 cases can reach temperatures ...

Researchers find that going with the flow makes bacteria stick

02/24/2014
In a surprising new finding, researchers have discovered that bacterial movement is impeded in flowing water, enhancing the likelihood that the microbes will attach to surfaces. The new work could have implications for the study of marine ecosystems, and for our understanding of how infections take hold in medical devices. The ...

Rare 'polio-like' disease reports

02/24/2014
US doctors are warning of an emerging polio-like disease in California where up to 20 people have been infected. A meeting of the American Academy of Neurology heard that some patients had developed paralysis in all four limbs, which had not improved with treatment. The US is polio-free, but related viruses can ...

More Evidence Shows Whooping Cough Evolving In Response To Its Vaccine

02/21/2014
Researchers have found evolved pertussis, as whooping cough is scientifically known, in Finland, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S. As we previously reported, the evolved bacteria don't seem to be more dangerous than their predecessors. Nevertheless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are keeping an eye on whooping ...

Influenza virus galloped its way to humans through horses and not just birds

02/21/2014
A new study that analyzed about 80,000 gene sequences from flu viruses has revealed that birds may have had some help from horses in spreading the virus that eventually killed 50 million to 100 million people in the influenza pandemic in 1918. Two viral genes may have circulated for years ...

Probiotic treatment for vaginal thrush on the way

02/21/2014
Scientists are testing vaginal pessaries containing 'good' probiotic bacteria for the treatment of vaginal thrush. The research shows that this approach is likely to be a viable alternative to using precious antimicrobial drugs. Click on 'source' for full article.

Chile: Owls drafted in to fight deadly hantavirus

02/21/2014
Owls are the natural predators of the rats carrying the deadly hantavirus, the Santiago Times newspaper reports. Long-tailed pygmy rice rats transmit the virus to humans as they come into contact with campers in the forest, while foraging for bamboo. But forest fires during Chile's summer months have forced the ...

Nazis Studied Using Mosquitoes As Biological Weapons

02/20/2014
The study confirms "the existence of an offensive biological warfare research programme in Nazi Germany." In January of 1942, Heinrich Himmler ordered the opening of an entomological laboratory in the Dachau concentration camp in southeastern Germany. But why? The stated purpose of the institute was to study pests such ...

First Fecal Transplant Bank Opens

02/20/2014
OpenBiome, a company based in Cambridge, Mass., has opened a facility that collects stool samples from healthy, pre-screened individuals. It then processes those "donations" and readies them for shipment to hospitals, where they are put into the colons of people with the deadly gut infection Clostridium difficile. Since September, ...

In Memoriam: Gareth Thomas (1932–2014)

02/20/2014
Gareth Thomas, founder of Berkeley Lab’s National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM) and one of the world’s foremost experts on electron microscopy, passed away on February 7. He was 81. Click on 'source' to read more.

Step forward for malaria vaccine

02/20/2014
Researchers have tested a preliminary form of a vaccine against the disease, which is spread by the bite of the mosquito and kills more than 600,000 people each year. Until now, developing malaria vaccines has been challenging. A vaccine must incorporate key proteins from the malaria parasites, which will trigger ...

Artificial Cells and Salad Dressing

02/20/2014
A University of California, Riverside assistant professor of engineering is among a group of researchers that have made important discoveries regarding the behavior of a synthetic molecular oscillator, which could serve as a timekeeping device to control artificial cells.

Blu-ray player detects microorganisms and toxins on discs

02/20/2014
In addition to storing films, optical discs can be used to detect microorganisms, toxins, allergens and tumoral biomarkers. Blu-ray technology has allowed researchers to develop a way to find out if a sample contains Salmonella or toxic substances. This simple and cheap analytical system may be applied to clinical diagnosis ...

Uncovering the secrets of tularemia, 'rabbit fever'

02/18/2014
Tularemia is endemic in the northeastern United States, and is considered to be a risk to biosecurity -- much like anthrax or smallpox -- because it has already been weaponized in various regions of the world. At the 58th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting, which started Saturday and continues through Wednesday in ...

Bacterial superbug protein structure solved

02/18/2014
Scientists have deciphered the 3-D structure of a protein that confers antibiotic resistance from one of the most worrisome disease agents: a strain of bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can cause skin and other infections. The team's findings may be an important step in combating the MRSA public ...

Living liquid crystals: Bacteria-filled liquid crystals could improve biosensing

02/18/2014
Plop living, swimming bacteria into a novel water-based, nontoxic liquid crystal and a new physics takes over. The dynamic interaction of the bacteria with the liquid crystal creates a novel form of soft matter: living liquid crystal. The new type of active material, which holds promise for improving the early detection ...

Bacteria in space!

02/17/2014
Where humans travel, bacteria will follow. If people are in space for any amount of time, bacteria are sure to thrive there so it’s good to know that there are already researchers looking at how the environment within spaceships affects bacterial populations. Work done on planktonic colonies of bacteria has ...

UA Study on Flu Evolution May Change Textbooks, History Books

02/17/2014
A new study published in the journal Nature provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the evolutionary relationships of influenza virus across different host species over time. In addition to dissecting how the virus evolves at different rates in different host species, the study challenges several tenets of conventional ...

Environment influences ability of bacterium to block malaria transmission

02/17/2014
The environment significantly influences whether or not a certain bacterium will block mosquitoes from transmitting malaria, according to researchers at Penn State. The researchers used a species of malaria parasite that affects rodents, Plasmodium yoelii, and the mosquito, Anopheles stephensi, as a model system to investigate whether Wolbachia would block the ...

Host plants reprogram their root cells to accommodate symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria

02/17/2014
To enter into symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, host plants reprogram their root cells. An LMU team has now identified a calcium-binding protein complex that can be persuaded to spontaneously induce the formation of root nodules. In almost all ecosystems, plant growth rates are limited by the availability of fixed nitrogen. Symbiotic ...

The Fungus That Killed Darwin’s Frog

02/17/2014
In his second expedition to South America, Darwin discovered many new species of animals and plants. The field observations obtained throughout this 5-year expedition provided the intellectual framework for the maturation of his ideas on evolution. It also introduced the world to a tiny (2-3 cm in length) frog known ...

Sweet Valentine

02/14/2014
Four intracellular Toxoplasma gondii parasites are shown undergoing cellular division by an internal budding process known as endodyogeny. Staining with a T. gondii surface antigen provided heart-shaped images (shot on Valentine’s Day). The definitive host of these parasites is the cat, but they infect many warm-blooded animals, including humans. While ...

Test for Persistent Lyme Infection Using Live Ticks Shown Safe in Clinical Study

02/14/2014
In a first-of-its-kind study for Lyme disease, researchers have used live, disease-free ticks to see if Lyme disease bacteria can be detected in people who continue to experience symptoms such as fatigue or arthritis after completing antibiotic therapy. The technique, called xenodiagnosis, attempts to find evidence of a disease-causing microbe ...

How bacteria communicate with us to build a special relationship

02/14/2014
Communication is vital to any successful relationship. Researchers from the Institute of Food Research and the University of East Anglia have discovered how the beneficial bacteria in our guts communicate with our own cells. This is a key step in understanding how our bodies maintain a close relationship with the population ...

Categorising bacteria in purple and pink

02/14/2014
When confronted with a new bacteria there are a series of simple tests that can be carried out to give a rough idea of the properties of the bacteria you are dealing with. One of the simplest and most useful tests is known as “Gram staining” which is a process ...

Laser tool speeds up detection of Salmonella in food products

02/14/2014
Purdue University researchers have developed a laser sensor that can identify Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples about three times faster than conventional detection methods. Known as BARDOT (pronounced bar-DOH'), the machine scans bacteria colonies and generates a distinct black and white "fingerprint" by which they can be identified. BARDOT takes ...

Rare bacteria outbreak in cancer clinic tied to lapse in infection control procedure

02/14/2014
Improper handling of intravenous saline at a West Virginia outpatient oncology clinic was linked with the first reported outbreak of Tsukamurella spp., gram-positive bacteria that rarely cause disease in humans, in a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report was published in the March ...

Two new weapons in the battle against bacteria

02/14/2014
Proteases are vital proteins that serve for order within cells. They break apart other proteins, ensuring that these are properly synthesized and decomposed. Proteases are also responsible for the pathogenic effects of many kinds of bacteria. Now chemists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have discovered two hitherto unknown mechanisms of ...

Cubist & Cambridge Science Festival Launch "Germ Challenge" Science Contest

02/13/2014
LEXINGTON, Mass. & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--February 13, 2014-- Cambridge Science Festival and Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBST) today launched the 2014 "Germ Challenge," a contest designed to engage young people in science by inviting them to create educational and creative videos that demonstrate their knowledge of germs and their ability ...

An Artist Dyes Clothes and Quilts With Tuberculosis and Staph Bacteria

02/13/2014
Anna Dumitriu combines bacteria and textile design to explore our relationship with microorganisms. Walk into Watermans, a theatre and arts exhibition space in West London, and you'll come across a series of intriguing installations: early 20th century medical artifacts, a dress colored with natural dyes that were used as early (and ...

FIRST OBSERVATION OF A HUMAN HAT, KEY PROTEINS IN NUMEROUS PATHOLOGIES

02/13/2014
The researcher Manuel Palacín, head of the Heterogenic and Multigenic Diseases lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), in Barcelona, is among the world’s experts in HATs (heteromeric amino acid transporters). In humans, there are eight HAT molecules. These are associated, for example, with the following: rare diseases called ...

Finally, Clothing Designed to Stop the Spread of Germs on Public Transit

02/12/2014
Of all the public transit etiquette violations out there, the sneeze-and-touch at the height of cold and flu season is among the worst. Everyone who rides in a city has seen it: that sickly looking person across the train or bus who sneezes into a free hand then grabs the ...

Discovery opens up new areas of microbiology, evolutionary biology

02/12/2014
A team of researchers led by Virginia Tech and University of California, Berkeley, scientists has discovered that a regulatory process that turns on photosynthesis in plants at daybreak likely developed on Earth in ancient microbes 2.5 billion years ago, long before oxygen became available. Click on 'source' to read more.

Why one microbe seemingly doesn't age at all

02/12/2014
Under favorable conditions, the microbe, a species of yeast called S. pombe, does not age the way other microbes do, the researchers said. Typically, when single-celled organisms divide in half, one half acquires the majority of older, often damaged cell material, while the other half acquires mostly new cell material. Click ...

Genetic discovery to keep crops disease-free

02/12/2014
Curtin University researchers have found a way to breed disease-resistant wheat with no downside, potentially bringing multi-million dollar savings to Australia’s agricultural industry. Farmers can lose more than 0.35 tonnes per hectare in wheat yields to Yellow Spot, even after applying fungicide. The scientists have demonstrated that by taking away ...

Tamoxifen drug appears to kill fungus associated with deadly brain infection

02/11/2014
The drug tamoxifen appears to kill a fungus associated with a deadly brain infection that afflicts HIV/AIDS patients, according to a University of Rochester study published online today by mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Click on 'source' to read more.

New Research on Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, Pressure Ulcers, Severe Alcoholic Hepatitis, and More

02/11/2014
Two million people suffer antibiotic-resistant infections yearly, and 23,000 die each year as a result. Most of these infections occur in the community, but deaths usually occur in healthcare settings. Cost estimates vary but may be as high as $20 billion in excess direct healthcare costs. Click on 'source' to ...

I had the bacteria in my gut analysed. And this may be the future of medicine

02/11/2014
Andrew Anthony sent his stool off to have its bacteria sequenced. In the future, such techniques could help assess our susceptibility to conditions from diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's to autism, depression and cancer. Click on 'source' to read more.

New chip lets scientists listen in on bacteria

02/11/2014
Researchers at Columbia University are turning that optics-based imaging approach on its head, instead developing a chip based on integrated circuit technology that lets them not only electrochemically image bacteria, but listen in on them as well. Click on 'source' to read more.

Newly Found Tactics in Offense-Defense Struggle with Hepatitis C Virus

02/11/2014
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) has a previously unrecognized tactic to outwit antiviral responses and sustain a long-term infection. It also turns out that some people are genetically equipped with a strong countermeasure to the virus' attempt to weaken the attack on it. The details of these findings suggest potential ...

How brain guards itself against virus attacks

02/11/2014
Infections in the central nervous system are rare thanks to our brain's unique defence system that prevents viruses from invading, finds a study. The research explains a long-standing mystery. Click 'source' to read more.

Dawn attack: how plants anticipate pathogen infection

02/06/2014
Like animals, plants are susceptible to infections from bacteria, viruses and fungi. While animals have a wide variety of immune cells and in some cases an interconnected immune system plants must rely on other methods to fight infection. A recent news bulletin from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute lists a ...

Microbe vs. Mineral - A Life and Death Struggle in the Desert

02/06/2014
Although the bursts of rainbow colors in this photograph are mesmerizing, microbes fight for their lives in the background. Chemist Michael P. Zach of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, snapped this image of a salt sample he collected in a hot, arid valley near Death Valley National Park in California. ...

New China bird flu a reminder of mutant virus risk

02/06/2014
The death of a woman in China from a strain of bird flu previously unknown in humans is a reminder of the ever-present potential pandemic threat from mutating animal viruses, scientists said on Wednesday. The new strain, called H10N8, has so far infected only two people - a fatal case in ...

Bacterial fibers critical to human, avian infection

02/06/2014
Escherichia coli – a friendly and ubiquitous bacterial resident in the guts of humans and other animals – may occasionally colonize regions outside the intestines. There, it can have serious consequences for health, some of them lethal. In a new study conducted in assistant professor Melha Mellata’s lab in the ...

Pictures Considered #13. How Many Things Can Be Illustrated In One Picture?

02/06/2014
This transmission EM of a thin section of a T2 phage infecting an E. coli cell was produced by Lee Simon in the late 1960’s. It is noteworthy for depicting a remarkably large number of properties of the phage and of the infection process. Can you figure out how many ...

Beijing smog contains witches' brew of microbes

02/04/2014
Metagenomic survey reveals traces of pathogens and allergens in the city’s air. For people racked by the dreaded ‘Beijing cough’, it is all too clear that particles in the city’s thick smogs pose a public-health problem. But much less clear is the impact — or even the identity — of ...

You'll Want To Wash Your Hands Immediately After Reading This (Infographic)

02/04/2014
Germaphobes, maybe you're on to something. Sickness-causing bacteria and viruses can lurk on surfaces long after they're expelled in an infected person's sneeze or snot. Some can even stay on a surface for months, given the right conditions. While the ability of these microorganisms to actually make you sick depends on ...

Science teaching goes viral: Alternative course increases undergraduate retention

02/04/2014
An alternative approach to the traditional introductory laboratory course at the undergraduate level significantly increases student retention rates, according to research published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. In 2012, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reported that there is a need ...

Study Finds Cervicovaginal Microbiota Different in Women Destined to Have Preterm Birth

02/04/2014
In a study to be presented on Feb. 6 at 3:15 p.m. CST, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting ™, in New Orleans, researchers will report that cervicovaginal (CV) microbiota differs in the late second and early third trimester in women destined to have a ...

A Detailed Look at HIV in Action

02/03/2014
The human intestinal tract, or gut, is best known for its role in digestion. But this collection of organs also plays a prominent role in the immune system. In fact, it is one of the first parts of the body that is attacked in the early stages of an HIV ...

Trick that aids viral infection is identified

02/03/2014
Scientists have identified a way some viruses protect themselves from the immune system’s efforts to stop infections, a finding that may make new approaches to treating viral infections possible. Viruses have well-known strategies for slipping past the immune system. These include faking or stealing a molecular identification badge that prevents a ...

Components in C. diff identified that may lead to better treatment

02/03/2014
Researchers have identified components in Clostridium difficile (C. diff) that may lead to new diagnostic tools, and ultimately more timely and effective treatment for this often fatal infection. C. diff is a spore-forming bacterium that causes severe diarrhea and is responsible for 14,000 deaths annually in the US.

A quicker, cheaper way to detect staph in the body

02/03/2014
Probe identifies staph bacteria without need for biopsies. Chances are you won’t know you’ve got a staph infection until the test results come in, days after the symptoms first appear. But what if your physician could identify the infection much more quickly and without having to take a biopsy and ...

Adhering To The 'Replicon Model' The Sloppy Way

02/03/2014
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 triggered by a positive trans-acting factor, the 'Initiator' (see ...

How Some Viruses Protect Themselves From the Immune System's Efforts to Stop Infections

01/31/2014
Viruses have well-known strategies for slipping past the immune system. These include faking or stealing a molecular identification badge that prevents a cell from recognizing a virus. Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and elsewhere have found some viruses have another trick. They can block the ...

As Plant Virus Jumps to Bees, Does it Cause Colony Collapse?

01/31/2014
Another potentially significant answer in the long-running mystery behind colony collapse disorder (CCD) may have just emerged: Researchers have found a virus that typically infects plants has been systemically infecting honeybees in the United States and China. Click on 'source' to read more.

Bacterial Toxin a Potential Trigger for Multiple Sclerosis

01/30/2014
Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College have added to the growing body of evidence that multiple sclerosis may be triggered by a toxin produced by common foodborne bacteria. The presented their research at the 2014 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting. Click on 'source' to read more.

Bacterial Fuel

01/30/2014
Imagine a world where greenhouse gases were reduced to a minimum, or where methane released from oil spills could be cleaned in an instant, or where we could develop fuel using only bacteria. Thanks to a discovery by UW researchers, a certain type of bacteria that lives off of methane ...

Healthy Bacteria May Lead to Long Life

01/30/2014
In the past few years, scientists have begun to uncover the multitude of ways in which the community of bacteria living in the our intestines, known as the microbiome, can impact our health. Not only do these (benign) bacteria help with metabolism and digestion, shifts in it are linked to ...

New, unusually large virus kills anthrax agent

01/30/2014
From a zebra carcass on the plains of Namibia in Southern Africa, an international team of researchers has discovered a new, unusually large virus (or bacteriophage) that infects the bacterium that causes anthrax. The novel bacteriophage could eventually open up new ways to detect, treat or decontaminate the anthrax bacillus ...

How to Make Electricity With Bacteria-Coated Rubber

01/30/2014
In the experiment, published this week in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers slathered one side of a sheet of rubber with the bacterial spores. When the sheet dried it curled up, much like a leaf does after it falls from a tree. Increasing the humidity caused the sheet to straighten out ...

Ancient teeth reveal origin of the Justinian plague

01/29/2014
The DNA of bubonic plague bacteria, blamed for Europe's great plague of 1348, has turned up in victims of a plague that shook the Roman world in AD 541 Read more: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24948

Deadly MERS virus could hold the key to its own cure

01/29/2014
The virus causing Middle East respiratory syndrome emerged in 2012. It does not spread readily between people, but there are fears it could cause a pandemic if it ever starts. It has killed 76 of the 178 people known to have caught it so far, and there is no specific ...

Sinovac Files Clinical Trial Application with CFDA for its Proprietary Vaccine against Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Virus

01/29/2014
BEIJING, Jan. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Sinovac Biotech Ltd. SVA +1.79% , a leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in China, announced today that it has submitted a Clinical Trial Application(CTA) with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) to commence human clinical trials for its vaccine against Avian influenza ...

H7N9 bird flu resurges in China ahead of Lunar New Year

01/29/2014
In recent weeks, China has seen a spike in H7N9 cases and experts are worried that infections will gather pace as the country celebrates the Lunar New Year this week - a peak time for travel and for poultry sales. In January alone, 19 deaths and 96 human cases have ...

Protecting against Hendra virus

01/29/2014
It was discovered in 1994 as a virus 'hosted' by fruit bats and lethal to horses and humans. Watch our profile of the Hendra virus, a zoonotic disease that has claimed the lives of seven people.

Researchers open door to new HIV therapy

01/29/2014
BERKELEY — People infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can stave off the symptoms of AIDS thanks to drug cocktails that mainly target three enzymes produced by the virus, but resistant strains pop up periodically that threaten to thwart these drug combos. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, ...

Want to Get the Flu? Catching the Influenza Virus Infection On Purpose

01/29/2014
Most people try to avoid catching the flu by taking precautions such as washing their hands often, avoiding people who are already sick, or getting a flu shot. However, scientist are giving volunteers the flu on purpose by squirting the virus up their nose, all in the name of science. Why would ...

Gut Bacteria in Preemies Altered by Hospital Stay, Study Finds

01/29/2014
Gut bacteria in premature infants don't come from their mothers, but from microbes in the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU), a new study finds. Babies typically get their gut bacteria from their mothers during childbirth. Premature infants, however, receive antibiotics during their first week of life to prevent infections, and these ...

Could the Right Germs Make You Live Forever?

01/29/2014
It's an age-old search: the secret to eternal youth. For centuries, the dream of a single factor that may increase our lifespan has been at the forefront of many legends, excursions, and of course, advertising campaigns. But while this search has been fruitless for the majority of us, there is ...

Neanderthal Me

01/27/2014
From the discovery of the first Neanderthal skull in a Belgian cave in 1826, a bone of contention among Homo sapiens has been the extent of our relationship to Homo neanderthalis, who disappeared from the fossil record ~30,000 years ago. Like scrappy cousins we'd rather not claim, we've attempted to ...

Researchers discover a simple amoeba holds the key to better treatment for Alzheimer's disease

01/24/2014
Scientists have discovered the use of a simple single-celled amoeba to understand the function of human proteins in causing Alzheimer’s disease. The new study, published in the Journal of Cell Science today (Friday 24 January) by researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Institute of Psychiatry King’s College London, ...

Salmonella Infection Mitigates Asthma

01/24/2014
Researchers from Germany have identified the mechanism by which Salmonella infections can reduce the incidence of asthma in mice. The research, which appears ahead of print in the journal Infection and Immunity, opens up new avenues of research that could lead to treatments. Incidence of allergies has climbed dramatically in recent ...

Gene prevents buildup of misfolded cell proteins

01/24/2014
Much like how a snowplow is needed to clear streets of heavy snow, cells employ a set of genes to clear away misfolded proteins, to prevent them from accumulating and destroying the cell. For the first time, Cornell researchers have demonstrated how a gene called SEL1L plays a critical role in ...

Plant scientists unravel a molecular switch to stimulate leaf growth

01/24/2014
Mechanisms that determine the size of plants have fascinated plant scientists of all times, however they are far from understood. An international research team led by plant scientists from VIB and Ghent University report an important breakthrough in the scientific journal The Plant Cell. They identified a protein complex that ...

Pig-killing PEDv virus moves into Canada

01/24/2014
Canada has discovered its first two cases of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has already killed more than 1 million pigs in the United States, government and industry officials said on Thursday. The Ontario government is investigating a hog farm in the province's Middlesex County after a laboratory finding ...

Two Less

01/24/2014
Two people who mattered to me and to many other people have died recently. I wish to honor their memory by sharing a glimpse of them with you. Manny Suter Manny died on January 8, 2014, one month shy of his 96th birthday. A member of a distinguished Swiss family, he earned ...

Turkeys inspire smartphone-capable early warning system for toxins

01/23/2014
Some may think of turkeys as good for just lunch meat and holiday meals, but bioengineers at UC Berkeley saw inspiration in the big birds for a new type of biosensor that changes color when exposed to chemical vapors. This feature makes the sensors valuable detectors of toxins or airborne ...

Main intestinal disease bacteria to be sequenced

01/23/2014
The University of Liverpool is to decipher the genomes of the UK’s main bacterial cause of food poisoning which results in over 21,000 hospital admissions and 100 deaths each year. Using the latest whole genome sequencing technologies available at the University’s Centre for Genomic Research, scientists will decode and analyse ...

Beyond genetics: Why do genetically identical bacteria behave differently?

01/23/2014
We are more than just our genes, and it’s no different for bacteria. Genetically identical bacteria behave in dramatically different ways. This phenomenon has been seen in factors such as growth rate, metabolism and resistance to antibiotics. Click on 'source' to read more.

Longer Screening Intervals Possible With HPV-Based Tests

01/22/2014
A new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden finds that testing for human papilloma virus (HPV) allows for longer time between screening tests when compared to cytology-based testing. The study is published in the scientific journal British Medical Journal (BMJ). Cervical screening programs have until recently relied on cytology to identify ...

New Infection Control Recommendations Could Make White Coats Obsolete

01/22/2014
In a move to reduce health care associated infections, certain attire for health care professionals, including the traditional white coat, could become a thing of the past. "White coats, neckties, and wrist watches can become contaminated and may potentially serve as vehicles to carry germs from one patient to another," said ...

Dispersal Patterns Key to Invasive Species' Success

01/22/2014
In 1859 an Australian farmer named Thomas Austin released 24 grey rabbits from Europe into the wild because it “could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting.” By the end of the century, the rabbits had begun to overrun ...

Hospital Water Taps Contaminated With Bacteria

01/22/2014
New research finds significantly higher levels of infectious pathogens in water from faucet taps with aerators compared to water from deeper in the plumbing system. Contaminated water poses an increased risk for infection in immunocompromised patients. The study was published in the February issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, ...

Decoded DNA Could Help Fight Parasitic Hookworms

01/22/2014
Going barefoot in parts of Africa, Asia, and South America contributes to hookworm infections, which afflict an estimated 700 million of the world’s poor. The parasitic worm lives in the soil and enters the body through the feet. By feeding on victims’ blood, the worms cause anemia and, in children, ...

This Tiny Sensor Spots Salmonella In Minutes, Not Days

01/22/2014
A new biosensor quickly detects salmonella in food and can be easily customized to detect other types of bacteria—or even different strains for the same bacterium. The process appears to easily outperform tests that are now standard in the food industry, according to researchers at Rice University. Those tests are slow ...

Micropredators dictate occurrence of deadly amphibian disease (press release)

01/21/2014
An international team of researchers has made important progress in understanding the distribution of the deadly amphibian chytrid pathogen. In some regions, the deadly impact of the pathogen appears to be hampered by small predators, naturally occurring in freshwater bodies. These micropredators may efficiently reduce the number of free-swimming infectious ...

New Drugs Use Cell "Garbage Disposal" to Kill Bacteria

01/21/2014
A new class of molecules called acyldepsipeptides—ADEPs—may provide a new way to attack bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics. Researchers have discovered a way to increase the potency of ADEPs by up to 1,200 times. Their findings appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. As concerns about bacterial resistance ...

Swirling and whirling: the movement of spherical bacteria

01/21/2014
Research on bacterial movement tends to focus on the rod-shaped bacteria. With the aid of small waving flagella, each bacterial cell can push itself in the direction it wishes to go. They can also move in groups, forming large swarms that ripple and slide their way across Petri dishes. Spherical ...

Pathogenic plant virus jumps to honeybees

01/21/2014
A viral pathogen that typically infects plants has been found in honeybees and could help explain their decline. Researchers working in the U.S. and Beijing, China report their findings in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The routine screening of bees for frequent and rare viruses ...

Bridges Across the Periplasmic Moat

01/20/2014
Gram-negative bacteria pose a particular challenge to any enterprising phage. First the phage is met by the outer membrane (OM)—a barrier to surmount that also can be used as a convenient handgrip for adsorption. Next hazard is the nuclease-infested periplasm with its jungle of peptidoglycan. An infecting phage genome needs ...

Potential treatment for drug-resistant H7N9 influenza virus

01/17/2014
The novel avian H7N9 influenza virus has caused more than 130 human infections with 43 deaths in China. New research, conducted under the supervision of Kansas State University's Juergen Richt, is showing promise in helping to fight this deadly virus. "Emergence of a novel drug-resistant H7N9 influenza virus: Evidence-based clinical potential ...

Poison-breathing bacteria

01/17/2014
Buried deep in the mud along the banks of a remote salt lake near Yosemite National Park are colonies of bacteria with an unusual property: they breathe a toxic metal to survive. Researchers from the University of Georgia discovered the bacteria on a recent field expedition to Mono Lake in ...

Guinea Worm Said to Infect Few in 2013

01/17/2014
Only 148 cases of Guinea worm disease were found in the world in 2013, a 73 percent drop from the 542 cases found one year earlier, the Carter Center announced Thursday. Along with polio, Guinea worm is one of two diseases hovering on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 1,000 ...

Typhoid Fever: A Race Against Time

01/17/2014
The life-threatening disease typhoid fever results from the ongoing battle between the bacterial pathogen Salmonella and the immune cells of the body. Prof. Dirk Bumann's research group at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has now uncovered how the typhoid pathogen repeatedly manages to evade the host's immune system. ...

Mysterious Microscopic Bubbles Baffle Ocean Scientists

01/16/2014
The most abundant photosynthetic organism in the world sheds countless little sacs into the oceans, which could be having a dramatic impact on marine ecosystems, according to a new study. These microbial buds contain proteins and genetic material, which may influence the growth of other marine microbes and even protect ...

Mixing natural antimicrobials to stop veg spoilage

01/16/2014
Combining essential oils is better than single treatments when looking to stop the growth of some spoilage bacteria on vegetables, according to research. Click on 'source' to read more.

New Pills Deliver Bacteria, Not Drugs to Cure us

01/16/2014
It seems that nearly every day, scientists connect another medical condition to atypical gut bacteria populations. Researchers have claimed that gut bacteria play a role not just in digestive health but even in basic brain function and mental health. Certain bacteria are so clearly good for us that several companies ...

Gold Nanoparticles Help to Develop a New Method for Tracking Viruses

01/16/2014
Researchers at the Nanoscience Center (NSC) of University of Jyväskylä in Finland have developed a novel method to study enterovirus structures and their functions. The method will help to obtain new information on trafficking of viruses in cells and tissues as well as on the mechanisms of virus opening inside ...

Chikungunya Virus Makes Inroads into the Americas

01/16/2014
Well, it’s here. The mosquito-borne chikungunya virus finally trekked its way into the Western Hemisphere, arrived in the Americas, and has begun infecting Caribbean mosquitoes, confirming one of the worst fears of public health officials on this side of the prime meridian. This pathogen, notorious for its explosive outbreaks and ...

Human Microbiome Report & Infographic

01/16/2014
The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, is not random, and scientists believe that it plays a role in many basic life processes. As science continues to explore and better understand the role of the human microbiome. A new report from ...

These 12 Viruses Look Beautiful Up Close But Would Kill You If They Could (PHOTOS)

01/16/2014
Infectious diseases like AIDS and hepatitis are never pretty. But the pathogens that cause many potentially deadly infections turn out to be absolutely beautiful when viewed under powerful microscopes. "Nowadays scientists use X-ray crystallography and more recently by cryo-electron microscopy with 3D reconstruction," Dr. Jean-Yves Sgro, a senior scientist at the ...

Little but lethal: Small RNAs coordinate bacterial attack on epithelial cells

01/14/2014
Two small RNAs (sRNAs) working in concert enable the deadly enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) 0157:H7 to attach to and initiate infection in epithelial cells that line the digestive tract, according to a study published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Gram-negative bacteria such as EHEC ...

Research uncovers key difference between our bodies' fight against viruses and bacteria

01/14/2014
Scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered a key difference in the biological mechanisms by which the immune system responds to viral and bacterial pathogens, respectively. The study, published in the journal Nature Immunology and led by Professor Uwe Vinkemeier in the University’s School of Life Sciences, centred on STAT1, ...

Rare fungus discovered in Scotland

01/14/2014
A rare fungus has been discovered for the first time in Scotland, near a former war hospital in Edinburgh. The fungi Clavulinopsis cinereoides is rarely seen in Europe. Ecologist Abbie Patterson made the discovery on a lawn at Napier University's Craiglockhart Campus. He was working on a contract to catalogue biodiversity amongst plants, ...

A Flu Vaccine That’s Always in Season

01/14/2014
In the spring of 2013 a strain of influenza virus that had never infected humans before began to make people in China extremely ill. Although the virus, known as H7N9, had evolved among birds, it had mutated in a way that allowed it to spread to men, women and children. ...

Marine bacteria to fight tough infections

01/13/2014
Aggressive infections are a growing health problem all over the world. The development of resistant bacteria is rampant and, in the United States, resistant staphylococci cause more deaths than AIDS on an annual basis. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen are studying a new form of treatment based on marine ...

Scientists unlock evolution of cholera

01/13/2014
Working with a nearly 200-year-old sample of preserved intestine, researchers at McMaster University and the University of Sydney have traced the bacterium behind a global cholera pandemic that killed millions – a version of the same bug that continues to strike vulnerable populations in the world’s poorest regions. Using sophisticated techniques, ...

India scrambles to save tigers from deadly virus

01/13/2014
India is scrambling to protect its beleaguered tiger population after several big cats tested positive for a virus common among dogs but deadly to other carnivores, experts said. In the last year, canine distemper virus has killed at least four tigers and several other animals across northern and eastern India, according ...

Florida citrus growers worry that deadly bacteria will mean end of orange juice

01/13/2014
The sprawling citrus orchard that Victor Story toured recently sure looked like a steal at $11,000 an acre. The investors who owned it were going to lose money, and potential buyers such as Story might have stood to reap a handsome reward. But as he bumped along the 40 acres of ...

Designer 'Swiss-Army-Knife' Molecule Captures RNA from Single Cells in Their Natural Tissue Environment

01/13/2014
A multi-disciplinary team from the University of Pennsylvania have published in Nature Methods a first-of-its-kind way to isolate RNA from live cells in their natural tissue microenvironment without damaging nearby cells. This allows the researchers to analyze how cell-to-cell chemical connections influence individual cell function and overall protein production. Tissues, of ...

Soil bacterium causes biofuel breakdown

01/13/2014
Biofuels made from plant materials—also known as lignocellulosic biofuels—have promise as a source of sustainable alternative fuels thanks to soil bacterium known as Enterobacter lignolyticus SCF1. SCF1 degrades lignin and decomposes plant cell walls, allowing access to the cellulose sugars that plants use for energy. However, much remains to be ...

How do they make it work? Genomic Revelations on a Bacterial Consortium

01/13/2014
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. ...

FSU Research on Bacteria-Invading Virus Yields New Discoveries

01/10/2014
Innovative work by two Florida State University scientists that shows the structural and DNA breakdown of a bacteria-invading virus is being featured on the cover of the February issue of the journal Virology. Kathryn Jones and Elizabeth Stroupe, both assistant professors in the Department of Biological Science, have deconstructed a type ...

Harvard scientists control cells following transplantation, from the inside out

01/10/2014
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. Associate Professor Jeffrey Karp, PhD, and James Ankrum, PhD, ...

UNC research demonstrates “guided missile” strategy to kill hidden HIV

01/10/2014
Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have deployed a potential new weapon against HIV – a combination therapy that targets HIV-infected cells that standard therapies cannot kill. Using mouse models that have immune systems composed of human cells, researchers led by J. Victor Garcia, PhD, found that an antibody combined ...

Discovery May Aid Vaccine Design for Common Form of Malaria

01/10/2014
A form of malaria common in India, Southeast Asia and South America attacks human red blood cells by clamping down on the cells with a pair of proteins, new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has revealed. The study provides details that will help scientists design better ...

Indigenous groups more vulnerable in the fight against flu

01/10/2014
Researchers at the University of Melbourne have discovered that some Indigenous groups will be more susceptible to the effects of the new strain of influenza (H7N9) currently found in China. Research indicated that some Indigenous people such as in Alaska and Australia displayed limited immunity response to the effects of influenza. Published ...

Cilia use different motors for different tasks

01/10/2014
Cilia — short, hair-like fibers — are widely present in nature. Single-celled paramecia use one set of cilia for locomotion and another set to sweep nutrients into their oral grooves. Researchers at Brown have discovered that those two cilia sets operate at different speeds when the viscosity of the environment ...

On Teaching

01/10/2014
A graduate student came to my office recently to say that she was increasingly bothered by anxiety and the ‘terror’ of having to speak at laboratory meetings. She had also learned a month ago that she was expected to lecture to a class organized by her mentor. The thought of ...

Successful Test in Humans of Nasal Vaccine Against Pertussis

01/09/2014
The CHILD-INNOVAC European research programme, coordinated by Inserm, has enabled the development of an innovative vaccine that can be administered intranasally, to combat pertussis, which has shown a resurgence in developed countries in recent years. The research consortium, headed by Camille Locht, Director of the Centre for Infection and Immunity ...

Researchers discover a tumor suppressor gene in a very aggressive lung cancer

01/09/2014
The Genes and Cancer Group at the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program of the IDIBELL has found that the MAX gene, which encodes a partner of the MYC oncogene, is genetically inactivated in small cell lung cancer. Reconstitution of MAX significantly reduced cell growth in the MAX-deficient cancer cell lines. ...

Symbiotic Fungi Inhabiting Plant Roots Have Major Impact On Atmospheric Carbon

01/09/2014
AUSTIN, Texas — Microscopic fungi that live in plants' roots play a major role in the storage and release of carbon from the soil into the atmosphere, according to a University of Texas at Austin researcher and his colleagues at Boston University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The role ...

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

01/08/2014
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. Click source to read more.

Virus fans the flames of desire in infected crickets

01/08/2014
Love may be a battlefield, but most wouldn't expect the fighters to be a parasitic virus and its cricket host. Just like a common cold changes our behavior, sick crickets typically lose interest in everyday activities. But when Dr. Shelley Adamo of Dalhousie University found her cricket colony decimated by ...

Common cold virus could help treat cancer (Video)

01/08/2014
What if something as simple as the common cold could help treat one of the deadliest forms of cancer? That’s exactly what researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center are trying to find out through a clinical trial testing viral therapy on pancreatic cancer. The disease affects about 44,000 ...

Rare bacteria outbreak linked to Chicago hospital

01/07/2014
CHICAGO, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The largest outbreak ever of a rare but potentially deadly bacteria has been tied to equipment in a Chicago-area hospital, health officials said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 44 cases of infection by the bacteria carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, have been reported, with ...

Mexican technology saves papaya production by detecting virus

01/07/2014
Mexico is considered one of the leading countries in papaya productions, but its crops are usually affected by the virus of the ringed spot, which leaves ring marks in the skin of the fruit and causes softening of the papaya, where fungi start to digest it. This is why the ...

Holidays Bring Flu as Virus Hits Young Adults at Year End

01/07/2014
Family gatherings helped spread influenza during the 2013 holiday season, as the pace of flu reports jumped at year end, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 4.3 percent of doctor visits during the week ended Dec. 28 were for complaints of flu-like symptoms such as fever, ...

Paint a virus to death

01/07/2014
An Auckland scientist has invented molecules that can attach themselves to any surface in a few minutes and modify every type of cell or virus. The potential for the technology is huge - from attacking cancer cells to protecting newborn babies.

Establishing guides for molecular counting using fluorescent proteins

01/06/2014
To know how many proteins assemble together at the nanoscale is fundamental for understanding protein function. Sometimes, proteins must be in an "oligomeric" state to be functional, although "oligomerization" of certain proteins can also lead to diseases. The ability to determine protein stoichiometry and monitor changes in the balance between ...

Intimate yeast: Mating and meiosis

01/06/2014
Mating and meiosis – the specialized cell division that reduces the number of chromosomes in a cell – are related, but in most yeasts they are regulated separately. Not so in Candida lusitaniae, where the two programs work in unison, according to a new study in Nature. Comparison with other ...

How Genetic Plunder Transformed A Microbe Into A Pink, Salt-Loving Scavenger

01/06/2014
We're pleased to reprint here in slightly shorted form a recent post from Lucas’ Thoughtomics, a Scientific American blog whose aim is “Exploring evolution through genes, computers and history." By kind permission. Microbiologists have long noted something odd about the Halobacteria (and not only their misleading name. They got it before ...

Nanoparticle That Mimics Red Blood Cell Shows Promise as Vaccine for Bacterial Infections

01/03/2014
A nanoparticle wrapped in material taken from the membranes of red blood cells could become the basis for vaccines against a range of infectious bacteria, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an infection that kills tens of thousands of people every year. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have shown ...

25 years of DNA on the computer

01/03/2014
DNA carries out its activities "diluted" in the cell nucleus. In this state it synthesises proteins and, even though it looks like a messy tangle of thread, in actual fact its structure is governed by precise rules that are important for it to carry out its functions. Biologists have studied ...

Lack of drug data 'extreme concern'

01/03/2014
The lack of data on the effectiveness of medicines available to doctors and researchers is "of extreme concern" say a group of MPs. The Public Accounts Committee is calling for all data on drugs being prescribed in the UK to be made available. It also says the government spent £424m stockpiling the ...

Added Laser Makes Force Microscope 3D

01/03/2014
Membrane proteins are the “gatekeepers” that allow information and molecules to pass into and out of a cell. Until recently, the microscopic study of these complex proteins has been restricted due to limitations of “force microscopes” that are available to researchers and the one-dimensional results these microscopes reveal. Now, researchers have ...

What can slime molds offer computing?

01/03/2014
Slime molds may not have brains, but that isn't preventing some computer scientists from investigating them for their potential as novel, unconventional computers. A slime mold consists of a single cell containing millions of nuclei, and forms a network of protoplasmic tubes to move toward its food source along nearly ...

Mathematical modelling disproves long-held view of bacterial cell cycle

01/02/2014
A key theory of the cell cycle of asymmetric bacteria, which has prevailed for the last ten years, has been disproved by a combined approach using mathematical modelling and genetic experiments. Modellers Prof. Martin Howard and Dr Seán Murray, from the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park, together with ...

Genetically identical bacteria can behave in radically different ways

01/02/2014
Although a population of bacteria may be genetically identical, individual bacteria within that population can act in radically different ways. As these bacterial cells divide, chemotaxis machinery (bright blue and red) localize in one daughter cell This phenomenon is crucial in the bacteria’s struggle for survival. The more diversity a population of ...

Vapor "Nanobubbles" Detect Malaria Through Skin

12/31/2013
A noninvasive technology can accurately detect even low levels of malaria infection through the skin in seconds with a laser scanner that requires no dyes, diagnostic chemicals, or needles. As reported in a preclinical study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the technology detected a ...

Start 2014 in Style With These ScienceArt Exhibits

12/31/2013
All in all, 2013 was a bang-up year for science art. It seems the genre is gaining ground as more and more exhibits tackle the fascinating possibilities that exist at the intersection of science and art. 2014 seems to be continuing the trend with a wide array of notably longer ...

What to expect in 2014 - Nature takes a look at what is in store for science in the new year

12/31/2013
Transgenic monkeys Several research groups, including a team led by geneticist Erika Sasaki and stem-cell biologist Hideyuki Okano at Keio University in Tokyo, hope to create transgenic primates with immune-system deficiencies or brain disorders. This could raise ethical concerns, but might bring us closer to therapies that are relevant to humans ...

Nematode Host Meets Bacterial Pathogen

12/31/2013
This image shows the nematode host Caenorhbaditis elegans encountering the bacterial pathogen S. marcescens. Natural selection imposed by the co-evolving pathogen led to the evolution and maintenance of bi-parental sex in the host population. The host and the pathogen were experimentally co-evolved to test the Red Queen hypothesis--that co-evolution with pathogens ...

Imaging Technique Could Lead to RSV Vaccine

12/31/2013
A new imaging technique for studying the structure of a childhood disease, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), could provide scientists with the information they need to develop new antiviral drugs and perhaps even a vaccine to prevent severe infections. By the time they’re two years old, most children have had RSV and ...

Gone in 2013: A Tribute to 10 Remarkable Women in Science

12/30/2013
Pioneering scientists and engineers are often overlooked in popular retrospectives commemorating the year’s departed. In particular, women in such fields tend to be given short shrift. To counter this regrettable circumstance, I present here a selection of 10 notable women in science who left us in 2013. Each of these ...

Flu virus increasing across country, widespread in 10 states

12/30/2013
Epidemiologists and the Centers for Disease Control say the flu virus has become widespread in 10 states, mainly in the Northeast and South, as the 2013-2014 flu season approaches its peak. In its weekly survey of state epidemiologists, the CDC reported that cases of influenza were widespread in New York, Massachusetts, ...

Develop Viruses to Fight Resistant Bacteria

12/30/2013
We have been throwing antibiotics at bacteria for several decades in an attempt to control and ultimately kill them. Our actions have generated an evolutionary paradise within bacteria for independent genetic elements that pick up antibiotic-resistant genes that then hop between different bacterial cells. So far we have only seen the ...

On the Curious Motions of Syphilis and Lyme Disease Bacteria

12/30/2013
The bacteria that cause syphilis and Lyme Disease have something extraordinary in common: they manage to propel themselves through their environment in spite of the fact their tails are located inside their bodies. For bacteria, they’re also unusually shaped and active. In this movie, you can see the bacteria that cause ...

How Hitchhiking TB Sneaks Deep into Lungs

12/27/2013
To intrude into the deeper regions of the lungs, the bacteria that cause tuberculosis appear to mask their identity and hitch a ride on white blood cells. The findings suggest an explanation for the longstanding observation that tuberculosis infections begin in the comparatively sterile lower lungs. In the upper respiratory tract, ...

WHO says 4 new Saudi cases of MERS virus, one fatal (press release)

12/27/2013
Four more people in Saudi Arabia have been infected with the SARS-like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus and one of them - an elderly man - has died, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday. The new infections, including in two health workers from Riyadh who have not reported ...

Building a Better Malaria Vaccine: Mixing the Right Cocktail

12/27/2013
A safe and effective malaria vaccine is high on the wish list of most people concerned with global health. Results published on December 26 in PLOS Pathogens suggest how a leading vaccine candidate could be vastly improved. The study, led by Sheetij Dutta, from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, ...

HOW A RETROVIRUS CAN KICK-START BRAIN REPAIR

12/26/2013
Researchers used a retrovirus to regenerate neurons after a brain injury and in Alzheimer’s models. The method may lead to therapies for an array of neurological disorders. Gong Chen, a professor of biology, the Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences at Penn State, and the leader of the research team, ...

Fungus discovery offers pine-wilt hope

12/26/2013
The pine-wood nematode is a major pest in the forests of China. The worm, which causes pine-wilt disease, has killed more than 50 million trees and resulted in economic losses of US$22 billion since 1982. But now, after a study lasting almost a decade, a team of Chinese ecologists has made ...

Debilitating Virus Infects Island Paradise

12/26/2013
Given a choice between dengue fever or another mosquito-borne disease called chikungunya fever, choose dengue every time. Neither has an available vaccine or treatment, but chikungunya (pronounced chik-un-GUHN-ya) is far more severe – it literally means “that which bends up” because patients are often stooped over from debilitating joint pain. If ...

Bacteria Could Be Living Structural Sensors (podcast)

12/26/2013
Cells in complex organisms sometimes respond to pressure and stress by growing in a preferred direction. The phenomenon, called mechanotaxis, helps create multicellular structures such as our organs. Now a common soil bacterium has been found to change its growth pattern in response to disturbances in its environment. And the discovery ...

Toys, books, cribs can harbor bacteria for long periods, study finds

12/26/2013
Numerous scientific studies have concluded that two common bacteria that cause colds, ear infections, strep throat and more serious infections cannot live for long outside the human body. So conventional wisdom has long held that these bacteria won’t linger on inanimate objects like furniture, dishes or toys. But University at ...

‘SUPER-CLONE’ E. COLI COULD BE WORSE THAN HOSPITAL SUPERBUG

12/23/2013
Virulent, drug-resistant forms of E. coli that have recently spread around the world emerged from a single strain of the bacteria, not many different strains, as has been widely believed. The strain—which causes millions of urinary, kidney and bloodstream infections a year—could have a far greater clinical and economic impact than ...

Attacking Fungal Infection, One of the World's Major Killers

12/23/2013
Ask someone what the term ‘fungus’ brings to mind, and chances are it will be an image of something that smells or looks disgusting. Ask David Perlin, executive director of the Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and the response will be far more somber – ...

Fuzzy Frosty

12/23/2013
This smiling Frosty is no ordinary snowman—he's made entirely of mold. The living artwork is the creation of Stephanie Mounaud, an infectious disease researcher at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland. For the last several Christmases, Mounaud has used the different strains of mold that she works with to ...

Malaria drug target raises hopes for new treatments

12/23/2013
Scientists have taken an important step towards new malaria treatments by identifying a way to stop malaria parasites from multiplying. In a study published in Nature Chemistry, they show that blocking the activity of an enzyme called NMT in the most common malaria parasite prevents mice from showing symptoms and extends ...

A Call for Urgent Talks on Mutant Flu-Strain Research

12/23/2013
The benefits and risks of "gain-of-function" research into highly pathogenic microbes with pandemic potential must be evaluated, scientists say. A group of over 50 researchers has called on the European Commission to hold a scientific briefing on research that involves engineering microbes to make them more deadly. In a December ...

TB bacteria mask their identity to intrude into deeper regions of lungs

12/20/2013
TB-causing bacteria appear to mask their identity to avoid recognition by infection-killing cells in the upper airways. The bacteria call up more permissive white blood cells in the deeper regions of the lungs and hitch a ride inside them to get into the host’s body. These findings are reported Dec. 16 ...

New studies detail how HIV affects immune system, claim drug exists to block virus

12/20/2013
In a last-ditch effort to rid the body of HIV, droves of white bloods cells self-destruct in an explosive mass suicide that drives the progression toward AIDS, a pair of new studies has found. These fiery deaths attract more unsuspecting cells to come over and help, initiating a domino effect of ...

Mating is the kiss of death for certain female worms

12/20/2013
The presence of male sperm and seminal fluid causes female worms to shrivel and die after giving birth, Princeton University researchers reported this week in the journal Science. The demise of the female appears to benefit the male worm by removing her from the mating pool for other males. The ...

Mutant Mosquito Virus May Serve as Vaccine for Deadly Disease

12/19/2013
Eastern equine encephalitis virus, which kills about half of the people it infects, uses a newly identified mechanism to “hijack” cells of its hosts in order to suppress an immune response. “Anytime you understand how a virus causes a disease, you can find ways to interrupt that process,” says senior author ...

BCG vaccine more effective than previously thought

12/19/2013
The BCG vaccine has been found to be more effective against the most common form of tuberculosis than previously thought, according to a new study in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccine is included in the childhood vaccination programme of many countries, and is the only licensed vaccine against ...

HPV Home Tests Could Identify Cancer Risk

12/19/2013
HPV self-testing is as effective as tests done by doctors, according to a Lund University study. Simple HPV home tests could therefore complement existing screening programmes, and identify more women at risk for cervical cancer. Sweden has a system of regular gynaecological smear tests, which has halved the number of cases ...

Dictyostelium amoeba eating bacteria (video)

12/19/2013
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 Clarke, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, ...

Reports hit Agriculture Dept. for ‘serious weaknesses’ in food inspection measures

12/19/2013
Recent salmonella outbreaks that sickened at least 523 people and sent dozens to the hospital underscore “serious weaknesses” in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s oversight of poultry plants, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which also criticized the government’s failure to push more aggressively for ...

Oil- and metal-munching microbes dominate deep sandstone formations

12/18/2013
Halomonas are a hardy breed of bacteria. They can withstand heat, high salinity, low oxygen, utter darkness and pressures that would kill most other organisms. These traits enable these microbes to eke out a living in deep sandstone formations that also happen to be useful for hydrocarbon extraction and carbon ...

Paramecium, showing contractile vacuole and ciliary motion (video)

12/18/2013
Olympus BioScapes 2013 10th place Winner, Mr. Ralph Grimm. Paramecium, showing contractile vacuole and ciliary motion. Click "source" to view.

Banana Fungus, Insect Outbreak Threaten Global Supply

12/18/2013
Banana lovers better satiate their appetites now. The world's supply of the fruit is under attack. According to Scientific American, strains of a particular soil fungus -- Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, or Foc -- have struck a key variety of banana grown for export in Mozambique and Jordan. Scientists fear ...

Fungus could control mosquitoes, research suggests

12/18/2013
Researchers at Swansea University say a fungus could be the key to controlling mosquitoes. Fungus Metarhizium anisopliae lives in soil and kills a whole range of insects and researchers say it also affects mosquito larvae if added to the water where the insect breeds. The insects carry diseases such as yellow fever ...

Burglary-ring-like mechanism found in lethal Nipah virus

12/18/2013
A team of scientists from Washington State University has discovered how one of the planet’s most deadly known viruses employs burglary-ring-like teamwork to infiltrate the human cell. Nipah virus is so menacing that the nation’s top infectious disease experts served as consultants in the filmmaking of the 2011 medical thriller, “Contagion,” ...

'Citrus greening' bacteria devastating world's orange crop

12/18/2013
A glass of orange juice in the morning is something many of us take for granted. But that might soon change thanks to a citrus disease affecting every major orange-growing region in the world. The world's orange crop is being threatened by "citrus greening," a bacterial infection carried by a fly ...

Scientists: Mosquito Virus Spreads to Americas

12/18/2013
A nasty virus first detected in Africa that is spread to people by the bite of infected mosquitoes is being locally transmitted in the Americas for the first time on the tiny French Caribbean dependency of St. Martin, health officials said Tuesday. Epidemiologists have so far confirmed about a dozen cases ...

Diversity of Antiviral Bacteria Discovered

12/18/2013
Wolbachia, a symbiont that resides naturally up to 70% of all insect species, are probably the most prevalent infectious bacteria on Earth. In 2008 Luis Teixeira, now a principal investigator at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, and other scientists have discovered that Wolbachia can protect their hosts against viral infections. ...

Deadly Coronavirus Found in Camels on Farm of Infected Owner

12/17/2013
The coronavirus that’s killed 71 people was detected in three camels in Qatar, supporting a thesis that the animals may be a source of human infection. The dromedary camels were identified in a barn about 19 miles northwest of Doha owned by a 61-year-old man who was diagnosed in October with ...

How Dogs Might Protect Kids Against Asthma: Gut Bacteria

12/17/2013
Scientists studying why pets appear to protect kids against asthma and allergies say the answer might lie in the world of bacteria that live in the gut. A new study published Monday found that exposing mice to dust from households where dogs were allowed outdoors significantly changed the composition of gut ...

Harmful bacterial infection grows more common in clinics and doctor’s offices

12/17/2013
A serious infection that has been on the rise in hospital patients is being increasingly reported among people who work or spend time in doctor’s offices, clinics and other health-care settings. Caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff, the infection can cause chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain ...

FDA: Anti-Bacterial Soaps May Not Curb Bacteria

12/17/2013
After more than 40 years of study, the U.S. government says it has found no evidence that common anti-bacterial soaps prevent the spread of germs, and regulators want the makers of Dawn, Dial and other household staples to prove that their products do not pose health risks to consumers. Scientists at ...

Fixing 'Misfolded' Proteins for New Drug Treatments (NPR Podcast)

12/17/2013
Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers were able to fix "misfolded" proteins and restore their function in mice. Lead researcher Michael Conn discusses how to mend an incorrectly folded protein and what this may mean for developing future therapies for a variety of diseases. Click "source" ...

Fungal pathogen shows profound effects from spaceflight

12/17/2013
At Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Cheryl Nickerson and her team have been investigating the intriguing effects of spaceflight on microbial pathogens. In a new paper appearing in the current issue of the journal PLOS ONE, the team reports their recent work examining spaceflight-induced responses in and infectious disease potential of ...

Life under the Microscope: Stunning Photographs from the BioScapes Competition [Slide Show]

12/16/2013
In the 1800s English poet William Blake famously challenged his readers to “see a world in a grain of sand.” If only he had owned a modern microscope. Thanks to increasingly powerful optical tools, we now know that beneath the skin of every leaf, inside each speck of dirt, and ...

Botulism Bacteria Blamed for Deaths of Waterbirds on Lake Ontario

12/16/2013
Last year, I wrote about finding the carcasses of dead loons and cormorants on the shores of a Northern Lake Michigan beach. Now officials in New York are reporting similar waterbird deaths from Type E botulism on Lake Ontario. Sadly, finding type E botulism in waterbirds is becoming an “annual event ...

NTU scientists discover potential vaccine for malaria

12/16/2013
Scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have discovered a key process during the invasion of the blood cell by the Malaria parasite, and more importantly, found a way to block this invasion. With this new knowledge, NTU is looking to collaborate with the industry on a vaccine against Malaria which ...

Worms and Hot Baths: Novel Approaches to Treating Autism

12/16/2013
A new study shows that two unusual treatment approaches may have beneficial effects on the symptoms of autism in children and adults with the disorder. Using a hot bath to raise body temperature and thereby mimic the effects of infection, or using worm eggs to stimulate the production of immunoregulatory ...

Retrospective, December 2013

12/16/2013
We continue our semi-annual ritual and post this quick tour of our featured blog posts published since June 2013. Evolution Microbial ‘Starstuff’. Associate blogger Gemma Reguera tells us how the remnants of a dying star become transmuted into microbial stuff, including cellular structures such as magnetosomes. One universe it is. Who Would Have ...

The Result of the Microbiome Poll

12/16/2013
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 which make up the microbial ...

A Letter to STC from Julian Davies

12/16/2013
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 ...

Lyme Disease Bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi

12/13/2013
The Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, is an obligate parasite that cycles between ticks and vertebrate hosts. B. burgdorferi alters the proteins expressed on its outer surface, depending on the state of each host. Here, we used immunofluorescent antibodies to identify spirochetes that express outer surface protein D (yellow and ...

"Touchy" Bacteria Grow Tendrils Around Flaws

12/13/2013
A common soil-dwelling microbe appears to have a sense of touch, researchers report. A new study finds that Bacillus mycoides, a bacterium known to science since 1842, responds to forces and curvature in the medium on which it’s growing. The microbe’s ability to respond to subtle changes in its environment, as reported ...

Salmonella Jams Signals From Bacteria-Fighting Mast Cells

12/13/2013
A protein in Salmonella inactivates mast cells -- critical players in the body’s fight against bacteria and other pathogens -- rendering them unable to protect against bacterial spread in the body, according to researchers at Duke Medicine and Duke-National University of Singapore (Duke-NUS). The study, conducted in mice, was published Dec. ...

From Friend to Foe: How Benign Bacteria Evolve Into Virulent Pathogens

12/13/2013
Bacteria can evolve rapidly to adapt to environmental change. When the "environment" is the immune response of an infected host, this evolution can turn harmless bacteria into life-threatening pathogens. A study published on December 12 in PLOS Pathogens provides insight into how this happens. Isabel Gordo and colleagues from the Instituto ...

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly

12/13/2013
Looks like Harvard University scientists have given us another reason to walk past the cheese platter at holiday parties and reach for the carrot sticks instead: Your gut bacteria will thank you. Switching to a diet packed with meat and cheese — and very few carbohydrates — alters the trillions of ...

Bacteria show surprising number of genetic paths to survival

12/13/2013
A boy with cystic fibrosis develops a chronic and potentially deadly Burkholderia dolosa infection in his lungs. Varieties of genetic mutations allow some strains of the bacteria to survive the dual assaults from his immune system and antibiotics, while others perish. Eventually, the strongest mutant dominates the B. dolosa colony. ...

Staph Germs Hide Out In The Hidden Recesses Of Your Nose

12/13/2013
Otherwise innocuous bacteria can cause deadly infections when people have surgery or fall ill. To prevent trouble, patients sometimes have their bodies scrubbed clean of Staphylococcus aureus. But it doesn't always work. That may because the germs thrive in upper recesses of the nose, far from the spots typically tested for ...

Gut Bacteria Lose their Tails to Evade Antibodies

12/13/2013
New research reveals the complex dynamic between gut bacteria and the immune system that keeps proteins from flagellin—bacterial tails—under control. In healthy individuals, the only thing that separates the lining of the human gut from the some 100 trillion bacterial cells in the gastrointestinal tract is a layer of mucous. But when ...

Pictures Considered #11. Invisible Portraits: A Microbial Art Exhibit

12/13/2013
Getting the message out to the public that the microbial world is about much more than just diseases is a challenging topic, but one we should keep trying to improve on. There are many ways to do this, but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, ...

Bacterial Bubble Hitchhikers Could Help Keep Greenhouse Gas in Check

12/10/2013
Seafloor-dwelling bacteria may hitch a ride on methane bubbles seeping from deep-sea vents, preventing the methane from reaching the atmosphere by eating it up, new research suggests. The findings, presented here today (Dec. 9) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, could help explain how such huge amounts of ...

In surprise finding, blood clots absorb bacterial toxin

12/10/2013
Blood clots play an unexpected role in protecting the body from the deadly effects of bacteria by absorbing bacterial toxins, researchers at the University of California, Davis, have found. The research was published Dec. 2 in the journal PLoS ONE. "It's a significant addition to the short list of defenses that ...

Penicillin equally effective as ‘big gun’ antibiotics for treating less severe childhood pneumonia

12/10/2013
Children hospitalized for pneumonia have similar outcomes, including length of stay and costs, regardless of whether they are treated with “big gun” antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or cefotaxime or more narrowly focused antibiotics such as ampicillin or penicillin, according to a Vanderbilt study published in Pediatrics. Study authors said the findings ...

Microbiome Candy: Could A Probiotic Mint Help Prevent Cavities?

12/10/2013
Eat candy and fight tooth decay. What a sweet concept, right? Well, microbiologists in Berlin are trying to make that dream a reality. They've created a sugarless mint that's aimed at washing out cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth. And the candy works in a curious way: It's spiked with dead bacteria. It's ...

Scientists explore the mechanisms of viruses' shells

12/10/2013
The genome of viruses is usually enclosed inside a shell called capsid. Capsids have unique mechanic properties: they have to be resistant and at the same time capable of dissolving in order to release the genome into the infected cell. The scientists of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) ...

Better preparedness against Tamiflu-resistant influenza viruses

12/09/2013
Researchers in Umeå and Uppsala have found that residues of the influenza drug Tamiflu in our environment can make the influenza virus in birds resistant. This can have serious consequences in the event of an influenza pandemic. With more than 14 million SEK from the Swedish Research Councils Formas and ...

Recycled Plastic Proves Effective in Killing Drug-Resistant Fungi

12/09/2013
Researchers at Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and California's IBM Research -- Almaden (IBM) have discovered a new, potentially life-saving application for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is widely used to make plastic bottles. They have successfully converted PET into a non-toxic biocompatible material with superior fungal killing properties. ...
12/09/2013
Scientists at Emory Vaccine Center have found a link between immunity induced by vaccination and an ancient way that cells adapt to scarcity, a link that could help researchers develop vaccines against challenging infections such as HIV or malaria. Researchers studying immune responses to the yellow fever vaccine – one of ...

Infections are the true beneficiaries of war

12/09/2013
History has repeatedly shown that contagion makes an easy bedfellow with human conflict. Take the poliovirus outbreak in Syria - and Israel and Egypt too - caused by related strains that can be traced back to Pakistan. War and insurgency provide the ideal conditions for bacteria and viruses to take a foothold, ...

Ice-cold methods decode bacterial infection systems

12/09/2013
When attacking body cells, bacteria, such as salmonellae or Yersinia (plague pathogens), inject specific bacterial proteins through hollow, syringe-like structures – called injectisomes – into the host cells. These substances reprogram the cells and can thus overcome their defense. From then on, they can infiltrate the cells unhindered in large ...

Seeing How Antibiotics Work

12/09/2013
One would assume offhand that the pathways for synthesis and assembly of the major constituents of a bacterial cell “talk to each other,” i. e. they are tightly interwoven processes. Tampering with the biosynthesis of one should affect all the others, right? Wouldn’t you expect, for instance, that if protein ...

A new species of the fish pathogenic bacterium Edwardsiella

12/06/2013
Takele Abayneh Tefera's doctoral research project has uncovered a genetic divergence between the fish pathogen Edwardsiella tarda and Edwardsiella tarda type strain. He has also identified phenotypic markers that distinguish one from the other. The fish pathogenic strain is now classified as a separate species: Edwardsiella piscicida. Edwardsiella tarda is a bacterium ...

Measles still poses threat to U.S. despite being "eliminated"

12/06/2013
Measles may seem like a distant threat in the United States, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning the disease still poses a danger to U.S. residents. The CDC fears that because measles is so prevalent overseas, people who travel are bringing the virus back to U.S. shores. ...

Hoped-For AIDS Cures Fail In 2 Boston Patients

12/06/2013
HIV has reappeared in the blood of two Boston patients who scientists had hoped had been cured of their infections. This disappointing development, reported by The Boston Globe's Kay Lazar, is yet another cautionary tale of how researchers can never afford to underestimate the human immunodeficiency virus's ability to hide out ...

Functional diversity in bacterial defense mechanism against viral invasion

12/06/2013
Bacteria may lack a true immune system, but this does not leave them defenseless against bacteriophage viruses and other pathogens. A system of genomic sequence elements called clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and various CRISPR-associated proteins (Cas) help to recognize and destroy foreign genetic material delivered by such ...

Your portrait, made from pulsating bacteria

12/06/2013
What happens when you use tiny electromagnetic coils to shift the position of light-scattering bacteria? In the hands of a couple of science-minded artists, you get an intriguing "Living Mirror." I have a new favorite artist: bacteria. Imprinted onto cell phones, it can look like flowers, or even distant galaxies. Some ...

Bacterium Reverses Autism-Like Behavior in Mice

12/06/2013
Doses of a human gut microbe helped to reverse behavioral problems in mice with autism-like symptoms, researchers report today in Cell. The treatment also reduced gastrointestinal problems in the animals that were similar to those that often accompany autism in humans. The work builds on previous research by Paul Patterson, a ...

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Bacteria

12/04/2013
Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (yellow, round items) killing and escaping from a human white cell. Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID)

Macrophage Infected with Francisella tularensis Bacteria

12/04/2013
Scanning electron micrograph of a murine macrophage infected with Francisella tularensis strain LVS. Macrophages were dry-fractured by touching the cell surface with cellophane tape after critical point drying to reveal intracellular bacteria. Bacteria (colorized in blue) are located either in the cytosol or within a membrane-bound vacuole. Credit: National Institutes ...

Targeted radioactive bomb might clean out AIDS virus, study finds

12/04/2013
years of fighting the deadly and incurable virus, scientists think they may be able to find a way to really kill it. On Monday, the White House and the National Institutes of Health announced a new, $100 million effort to try to find a cure. In the latest study, researchers tested ...

Division of labour in the test tube

12/04/2013
Bacteria grow faster if they feed each other. The division of labour is more efficient than a struggle through life without help from others – this is also true for microorganisms. Researchers from Research Group Experimental Ecology and Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and their colleagues ...

A Pill Filled with Bacteria Instead of Drugs

12/04/2013
Delivering healthy bacteria in a pill could help patients harboring out-of-balance microbial communities. Yogurt eaters already know that not all bacteria are bad for you. They may not realize that some bacteria are so important that one day people may fight off disease with pills filled with bacteria instead of ...

Bacteria evade detection net

12/04/2013
Slothful response from regulators and manufacturers means antibiotic resistance is missed. Bacteria that are resistant to almost all antibiotics are dreaded by physicians and patients alike. Finding such microbes in a hospital is bad enough, but failing to detect them can lead to something much worse: an outbreak. That is why ...

Combating Disease: Improved smartphone microscope brings single-virus detection to remote locations (podcast)

12/02/2013
Scientists are reporting an advance in smartphone-based imaging that could help physicians in far-flung and resource-limited locations monitor how well treatments for infections are working by detecting, for the first time, individual viruses. Their study on the light-weight device, which converts the phone into a powerful mini-microscope, appears in the ...

Books for the Giving Season: Viral Readings

12/02/2013
As the year closes out, we enter into the giving seasons of a variety of traditions. Lurking among the more pleasant types of giving is the 2013 – 2014 flu season, a viral gift that often keeps on giving. To combat this, reminders about the potential dangers of influenza and ...

How Your Morning Commute Resembles a Fungus

11/25/2013
In many fungi, the DNA storage compartments called nuclei are not prisoners of the cells they reside in, the way they are in animals and plants. Instead, fungal nuclei are free to move about the cabin. They flow through the joined, tube-shaped cells of fungi like busy commuters, and experience ...

Scientists zero in on flu virus defences

11/25/2013
Scientists have just got a clearer picture of the defences used by a key influenza virus to evade our immune system. The findings reported today in the journal Science could lead to a new research approach in the holy grail of developing vaccines before new flu viruses evolve. Influenza A/H3N2 is regarded ...

Chemotherapy: when our intestinal bacteria provide reinforcement

11/25/2013
Research jointly conducted by investigators at Institut Gustave Roussy, Inserm, Institut Pasteur and INRA (French National Agronomic Research Institute) has led to a rather surprising discovery on the manner in which cancer chemotherapy treatments act more effectively with the help of the intestinal flora (also known as the intestinal microbiota). ...

Merseyside red squirrels show signs of pox resistance

11/25/2013
Red squirrels at a National Trust reserve in Merseyside have shown signs of resistance to the pox virus that has blighted the species, say researchers. Scientists from the University of Liverpool have studied the squirrels at the Formby site for four years. They found that 10% of its squirrels had pox antibodies ...

Anti-fungal drug increases flu susceptibility

11/25/2013
Researchers have found that a commonly used anti-fungal treatment increases susceptibility to severe influenza infection in mice. This treatment deactivates an important protein that protects against viral infections such as influenza. Amphotericin B is an important anti-fungal treatment for people with already suppressed immune systems such as cancer patients and bone ...

Scientists think mysterious virus could be a signal of a weak immune system

11/25/2013
Genomic analysis of transplant patients finds an opportunistic microorganism whose elevated presence could be used an indicator in treatment. More than 260,000 Americans are alive today thanks to transplant operations that have replaced their failing kidneys, hearts, lungs or livers with healthy organs donated by volunteers or accident victims. But treatment ...

Fine Reading: Exploring the Microbial Dark Matter

11/25/2013
We live in a world run by microbes, the vast majority of which we have yet to identify or name. We can only refer to them collectively as the microbial dark matter (MDM). However you define a prokaryotic species, and however you tally them once identified, there is a huge ...

Why Slather This Spinach Field In Poop? It's All For Science

11/22/2013
Why are these scientists in hazmat suits smiling? They're standing in a field that they are about to spread with raw manure – four different kinds of raw manure, to be exact. Michele Jay-Russell, a University of California, Davis food safety scientist, posted the above picture on Twitter last week with ...

Good Old Days #2

11/22/2013
There is much that should be remembered about those days of intensive exploratory work and much of it using very simple methods and instruments. There was a remarkable amount of sharing of current work and results without much concern for primacy, which was automatically recognized. Communication was often by hand ...

Yersinia pestis bacteria

11/22/2013
Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID)

Dissected 18-Foot Oarfish Filled with "Little Monsters"

11/22/2013
Biologists dissected tissue samples from an oarfish carcass found in California and discovered the creature was hosting quite a few parasites. “Our findings say that these are actually majorly parasitized fish,” says Armand Kuris, professor of zoology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The oarfish carcass was found on October 13 ...

Fruit "Rust" Signals New Threat to White Pines

11/22/2013
A fungus that decimates white pines has mutated and can now infect immune and resistant plants, say researchers. This change is alarming to researchers, growers, loggers, and forest managers. White pine blister rust (WPBR) infects white pines and Ribes, a plant genus that include gooseberries and currants. Some states such as Maine ...

New Research Gives Clues of Antibiotic Use and Resistance in U.S. Children's Hospitals

11/22/2013
Two studies published in the December issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology show antibiotic resistance patterns for children have held stable over a seven-year period and surgical patients in U.S. children's hospitals account for 43 percent of all antibiotic use in children's hospitals, presenting an opportunity for targeted intervention. ...

Staphylococcus aureus

11/20/2013
Scanning electromicrograph of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID).

Hepatitis C virus 'not traceable' after leaving body, expert says

11/20/2013
A woman who tested positive for hepatitis C after potentially coming into contact with a hospital worker who had the virus is worried she infected her family. Angela Richards, from Caerphilly, has been told the virus is no longer present and it could not be confirmed whether she had been infected ...

Neanderthal Viruses Found in Modern Humans

11/20/2013
Ancient viruses from Neanderthals have been found in modern human DNA by researchers at Oxford University and Plymouth University. The researchers compared genetic data from fossils of Neanderthals and another group of ancient human ancestors called Denisovans to data from modern-day cancer patients. They found evidence of Neanderthal and Denisovan viruses ...

New Models Predict Where E. coli Strains Will Thrive

11/20/2013
Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have used the genomic sequences of 55 E. coli strains to reconstruct the metabolic repertoire for each strain. Surprisingly, these reconstructions do an excellent job of predicting the kind of environment where each strain will thrive, the researchers found. Their analysis, published in ...

New Bacterial Life-Form Discovered in NASA and ESA Spacecraft Clean Rooms

11/20/2013
High atop a platform inside a clean room at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) launch site in South America, scientists painstakingly searched for microbes near the Ariane 5 rocket due to launch the Herschel space telescope in May 2009. Only very unusual organisms can survive the repeated sterilization procedures in ...

Bacteria Recycle Broken DNA: Modern Bacteria Can Add DNA from Creatures Long-Dead to Its Own

11/20/2013
From a bacteria’s perspective the environment is one big DNA waste yard. Researchers have now shown that bacteria can take up small as well as large pieces of old DNA from this scrapheap and include it in their own genome. This discovery may have major consequences – both in connection ...

HIV-infected H9 T Cell

11/18/2013
Scanning electron micrograph of an HIV-infected H9 T cell. Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID).

H1N1 Influenza Virus Particles

11/18/2013
Colorized transmission electron micrograph showing H1N1 influenza virus particles. Surface proteins on the virus particles are shown in black. Credit: National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services (NIAID).

Glassy coating keeps viruses happy in harsh environments

11/18/2013
What's a virus to do when it finds itself in an inhospitable environment such as hot water? Coating itself in glass seems to not only provide protection, but may also make it easier to jump to a more favorable location to spread. Researchers led by a group from the Center for ...

Will Antibiotics Be There When You Need Them? Get Smart

11/18/2013
Just in time for “Get Smart about Antibiotics Week,” I had a refreshing experience recently, working in a different rural hospital. Over that week, I didn’t see one patient with “superbugs” other than the occasional MRSA. No one had the now scarier Gram negative bugs known as ESBLs (extended spectrum ...

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds

11/18/2013
Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds. "I'm always by profession a skeptic," says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California in Los Angeles. "But ...

Antarctica's Deep Lake: A Frigid Home for Steadfast Archaea

11/18/2013
Some time ago, we asked this Talmudic Question: Can you think of a place on Earth where there is free water but no microbes? (A sterile flask of nutrient broth in a lab, the insides of the body, or an IV bag in a hospital don't count.) Someone answered that ...

Deletion of Any Single Gene Provokes Mutations Elsewhere in the Genome

11/15/2013
Johns Hopkins researchers report that the deletion of any single gene in yeast cells puts pressure on the organism’s genome to compensate, leading to a mutation in another gene. Their discovery, which is likely applicable to human genetics because of the way DNA is conserved across species, could have significant ...

Vivax Malaria May Be Evolving Around Natural Defense

11/15/2013
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have discovered recent genetic mutations in a parasite that causes over 100 million cases of malaria annually -- changes that may render tens of millions of Africans who had been considered resistant, susceptible to infection. Peter A. Zimmerman, professor ...

Tests underway to determine whether dolphin virus killed whales, too

11/15/2013
The virus that has killed nearly 800 bottlenose dolphins off the East Coast has turned up in four whales that have washed ashore, a potentially troubling development if it is shown to be the cause of their deaths, a government marine expert said Thursday. But it is too early to know ...

Meet the Germs That Infect Your Water

11/15/2013
It's natural to expect that the water coming out of our taps is safe without worry of gastrointestinal or other infectious disease. Yet every year there are dozens of outbreaks linked to drinking water in the United States alone. In the majority of cases, a failure of proper water treatment ...

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

11/15/2013
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 ...

Lyme bacteria show that evolvability is evolvable

11/15/2013
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 rapidly changing environments. Now research on ...

Compound stymies polyomaviruses in lab

11/15/2013
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 improve it. A team of ...

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

11/15/2013
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 subunits themselves as they ...

Dengue Fever Makes Inroads into the U.S.

11/15/2013
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 air-conditioning, few open windows and limited ...

Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops

11/15/2013
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 general understanding of our world that scientists ...

Better batteries through biology?

11/13/2013
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 cars with a much greater driving ...

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

11/13/2013
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).

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

11/13/2013
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 the College of Agriculture and Natural ...

MERS-CoV

11/13/2013
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 Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have ...

Malaria: A race against resistance

11/13/2013
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 women perched ...

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

11/13/2013
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. “In the future, a new ...

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

11/13/2013
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 miniaturizing computers. "This is the first atomic ...

Coxiella burnetii, the bacteria that cause Q fever

11/12/2013
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).

Mathematical analysis helps untangle bacterial chromosomes

11/12/2013
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. In a new study, ...

Preprints come to life

11/12/2013
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 suit. A website that goes live this week is hoping to ...

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

11/12/2013
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, however it naturally infected all kinds of ...

Clue to New Virus Is Found in Camel

11/12/2013
Medical investigators for the first time have confirmed the MERS coronavirus in a camel, one belonging to a Saudi man also ill with the new virus, providing a critical clue into the virus's animal hosts and transmission, a top Saudi health official and an international disease expert said on Monday. The ...

Study Shows Moms May Pass Effects of Stress to Offspring Via Vaginal Bacteria and Placenta

11/12/2013
Pregnant women may transmit the damaging effects of stress to their unborn child by way of the bacteria in their vagina and through the placenta, suggest new findings from two animal studies presented by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for ...

Ice, Ice, Bacteria (Not Too Cold)

11/12/2013
Bacterial proteins could alter precipitation patterns and climate-change models. Proteins can help grow teeth and bones in the body, crops in the ground, and even ice in the atmosphere. Some proteins have an uncanny knack for kick starting ice formation at unusual temperatures, and they have piqued the interest of people ...

Methane-Munching Microorganisms Meddle with Metals

11/12/2013
On the continental margins, where the seafloor drops hundreds of meters below the water’s surface, low temperatures and high pressure lock methane inside ice crystals. Called methane hydrates, these crystals are a potential energy source, but they are also a potential source of global warming if massive amounts of methane ...

Bacteria May Allow Animals to Send Quick Voluminous Messages

11/12/2013
Twitter clips human thoughts to a mere 140 characters. Animals’ scent posts may be equally as short, relatively speaking, yet they convey an encyclopedia of information about the animals that left them. In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Michigan State University researcher shows ...

Slime mold Arcyria denudata

11/11/2013
Arcyria called Cotton Candy Slime. A Myxomycetes 1 mm tall.

So Far, No Silver Bullet to Stop Lethal Bat Fungus

11/11/2013
Since its appearance in the U.S. seven years ago, white-nose syndrome has decimated bat populations across eastern North America. Scientists say they've determined the culprit—a soil-dwelling fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans—and now they're investigating novel ways to stop it, including antifungal bacteria. Click "source" to listen to podcast.

Melody malady: Clarinet player develops 'saxophone lung' from fungus

11/11/2013
A Dixieland band player who didn’t clean his clarinet for 30 years is recovering from a year-long allergic reaction caused by fungus that grew inside the reed instrument, experts said. The 68-year-old unidentified Atlanta man came down with an intractable case of “saxophone lung,” an actual condition familiar to germ experts ...

Freaky Fungus Could Help Feed the World

11/11/2013
A Dutch bio-engineer says his lab-produced fungus could someday be used to save the lives of hungry people in the developing world. But first, it might need some extra Rooster Sauce to make it go down easier. "It has a very strong taste, a bitter aftertaste," says Hans van Leeuwen, a professor ...

Oman says first MERS-coronavirus sufferer dies in hospital

11/11/2013
Oman's first MERS coronavirus patient died in hospital on Sunday from lung failure, state news agency ONA said. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, emerged in Saudi Arabia last year and has been reported in Qatar, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain. ONA quoted ...

How zinc starves lethal bacteria to stop infection

11/11/2013
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 design antibacterial agents in the ...

Microbes Swim to Hydrogen Gas

11/11/2013
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, said Matthew Fields, ...

Oddly Microbial: Giant Viruses

11/11/2013
Viruses are supposed to be small and simple—not even alive, just mobile genetic material after all. So what do we make of giant double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses, one of which—the newly discovered Pandoravirus salinus—has an even larger genome than a hunky parasitic eukaryote called Encephalitozoon? The recent identification of P. ...

Bacterial toxin sets the course for infection

11/08/2013
Braunschweig have now discovered what makes a specific strain of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis—one of the main instigators for these infections–so dangerous: the bacteria produce a molecule called CNFy that facilitates the infection process for them. It changes the host cells in a manner that enables the injection apparatus of Yersinia, which ...

Scientists find some bacteria may thrive in zero gravity

11/08/2013
As if space wasn’t already dangerous enough, some newly reported research on bacterial growth in orbit indicates some strains of microorganisms can thrive in zero gravity, even if they are deprived of nutrients. This could change the way astronauts prepare for and live in space, especially as the prospect of ...

Dolphin virus outbreak in Atlantic is deadliest ever

11/08/2013
The deadliest known outbreak of a measles-like virus in bottlenose dolphins has killed a record number of the animals along the US Atlantic coast since July, officials said Friday. Click on 'source' to read more

Cancer-Causing HPV Virus Directly Damages DNA

11/08/2013
Human papillomavirus (HPV) can damage chromosomes and genes directly, researchers report in a new study. HPV is a virus that can cause anal, cervical, head and neck cancers, and according to experts, it produces two viral proteins (E6 and E7) that are involved in the development of those diseases. ...

Gene Is Linked to Deadly Runaway Fungal Infection

11/07/2013
For most people, a fungal infection like athlete's foot means a simple trip to the drugstore and a reminder to bring shower shoes to the gym. But in very rare cases, fungal infections can spread below the skin's surface and onto the lymph nodes, bones, digestive tract or even the ...

Pathologist wins Packard Foundation Fellowship for research into 'good' bacteria

11/07/2013
Bacteria have a bad reputation, but University of Utah pathologist June L. Round, Ph.D., likes to look at their good side–and for the second time this year she's received a prestigious national award to aid her research into bacteria that actually are good for human health. Click on 'source' to read ...

Hey, bacteria are individuals too

11/07/2013
Each person carries 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells, the former of which have continued to evolve in response to medicine's most potent antibiotics. But microscopic bugs don't just dictate human health—they're also integral to the health of every body of water on the planet. According to ...

Germs and bacteria beautified in Invisible Portraits

11/07/2013
Through high-tech images of microbial life, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum will gross you out and make you want to wash your hands. Nevertheless, the museum’s current art exhibition, entitled Invisible Portraits, will entice you regardless of whether you are in Science or Arts. The exhibit displays different types of microbes alongside ...

HIV ‘invisibility cloak’ allows virus to evade immune system

11/07/2013
In a study published in Nature, the team from University College London and the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology explains how HIV uses molecules inside host cells in an infected person to avoid alerting the body’s innate immune system (IIS) – cells and mechanisms that form the first ...
11/04/2013
It's well established that humans maintain a symbiotic relationship with the trillions of beneficial microbes that colonize their bodies. These organisms, collectively called the microbiota, help digest food, maintain the immune system, fend off pathogens, and more. There exists a long and growing list of diseases associated with changes in ...

Researchers explore natural solution to rid household plumbing of dangerous pathogens

11/04/2013
Microbes are everywhere – thousands of species are in your mouth, and thousands are in a glass of tap water. The ones in your mouth are mostly harmless – as long as you brush and floss so they don't form a biofilm that allows gum disease a path into the ...

Radiation Ahead? Eat a Black Mushroom!

11/04/2013
Suppose that one day you have the misfortune to receive a strong dose of radiation in preparation for a medical procedure, say a bone marrow transplant. To your surprise, the physician prescribes that you eat a hefty serving of dark-colored mushrooms about an hour beforehand. Lest you think this black ...

Immune System May Affect Germs on Your Skin

11/01/2013
Your immune system influences the types of microorganisms that live on your skin and affect your risk for disease, according to a new study. A person's skin contains millions of beneficial and potentially disease-causing microbes. Previous research has shown that these microbes influence the immune system but it wasn't known ...

Bacterial communities shift during human decomposition, Sam Houston U & Baylor researchers reveal

11/01/2013
New research conducted by researchers at Sam Houston State University and Baylor College of Medicine revealed that bacterial communities around a corpse could change overtime as human decomposition progresses. The study has appeared on October 30th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, titled “The Living Dead: Bacterial Community Structure of ...

Germ-hunting antibodies suppress HIV-like virus in monkeys; may hold key to new treatment

11/01/2013
Doctors may one day be able to control a patient’s HIV infection in a new way: injecting swarms of germ-fighting antibodies, two new studies suggest. In monkeys, that strategy sharply reduced blood levels of a cousin of HIV. The results also gave tantalizing hints that someday the tactic might help ...

Arthronema Gygaxiana: The Bacterial Dungeon Master

11/01/2013
Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax touched the lives of the people who loved his games. So when the legendary Dungeon Master died in March 2008, players around the world showed their thanks with heartfelt tributes –including naming a species of bacteria after him. Arthronema gygaxiana is a cyanobacteria, a microorganism ...

Scientists Capture Most Detailed Picture Yet of Key AIDS Protein

11/01/2013
Collaborating scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and Weill Cornell Medical College have determined the first atomic-level structure of the tripartite HIV envelope protein—long considered one of the most difficult targets in structural biology and of great value for medical science. The new findings provide the most detailed picture yet ...

Are Farm Veterinarians Pushing Too Many Antibiotics?

11/01/2013
In a barn outside Manhattan, Kan., researchers from Kansas State University are trying to solve the riddle of bovine respiratory disease. They're sticking plastic rods down the noses of six-month old calves, collecting samples of bacteria. "This bacteria, Mannheimia haemolytica, lives in most cattle," explains Mike Apley, one of the research ...

New Look at Old Test May Provide Earlier Detection of Meningitis

11/01/2013
Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have found a more accurate method to screen for bacterial meningococcal infection in its early stages, when it's hardest to detect. According to the researchers, the method for diagnosis could save lives by getting patients treatment earlier, when the infection is ...

Scientists raise alarm over today's measures against Legionellosis

11/01/2013
According to the textbooks, both high doses of chlorine and hot water are lethal to legionella bacteria. But now Norwegian scientists are sounding the alarm that the bacteria can survive these treatments, by hiding in amoebae. Legionella bacteria can cause deadly pneumonia via our shower water. On the basis of her ...

Biotransformation of Enniatins from Fusarium Fungi in a Food Safety Perspective

11/01/2013
Mould species of the genera Fusarium and Altenaria are considered the most important threats to Norwegian grain cereals because they produce toxins which can be a potential risk to food safety. F. avenaceum, the fungi most frequently isolated from Norwegian grain, produces enniatins which have been found in large quantities ...

Syria polio outbreak confirmed by WHO

10/31/2013
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 10 cases of polio in war-torn Syria - the first outbreak in the country in 14 years. The UN body says a further 12 cases are still being investigated. Most of the 22 people who have been tested are babies and toddlers. Before ...

Influenza virus activity in the world

10/31/2013
Based on FluNet reporting (as of 18 October 2013, 11:35 UTC), during weeks 40 to 41 (29 September 2013 to 12 October 2013), National Influenza Centres (NICs) and other national influenza laboratories from 81 countries, areas or territories reported data. The WHO GISRS laboratories tested more than 15 330 specimens. ...

Glowing Antibiotics Reveal Bacterial Infections

10/31/2013
Despite surgeons’ best efforts, bacteria often manage to sneak onto medical implants such as bone screws, where they can cause severe infections. Research published today in Nature Communications suggests that using fluorescent antibiotics could reveal such infections before they become too severe. Click on 'source' to read more

NDSU Researchers Find a Key That May Help Combat E. coli

10/31/2013
The NDSU Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences researchers discovered that B-phenylethylamine, or PEA, reduced the number of cells of Escherichia coli in a beef broth. PEA is a substance found in chocolate in trace amounts. Health food stores sell it in pill form to improve people's moods.

New bacteria species in purple mat in cave

10/31/2013
In a hot, steamy lava cave on the Kilauea Caldera in Hawai’i, microbiologists collecting samples from a dripping purple mat on the cave floor have found a new species that could reveal how bacteria that spit oxygen into the atmosphere millions of years ago evolved. Click on 'source' to read more

Research identifies how bacteria produce hydrogen

10/31/2013
Making hydrogen easily and cheaply is a dream goal for clean, sustainable energy. Bacteria have been doing exactly that for billions of years, and now chemists at the University of California, Davis, and Stanford University are revealing how they do it, and perhaps opening ways to imitate them. Click on 'source' ...

Paper device spots antibiotic-resistant bacteria

10/31/2013
Scientists in Canada have developed a paper-based device that checks if bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotics. The simple system could help users in remote areas pick the most appropriate treatment for bacterial infections. Click on 'source' to read more

Get dangerous germs out of your home

10/31/2013
(upwave.com) -- Even if you're one of the many people who believe that exposing yourself to day-to-day germs is healthy for your immune system, it's still wise to take steps to protect yourself from the most infectious germs in your home. "Bugs like Escherichia coli (E.coli), salmonella and campylobacter can ...

Model Virus Structure Shows Why There's No Cure for the Common Cold

10/31/2013
Rhinovirus C is believed to be responsible for up to half of all childhood colds, and is a serious complicating factor for respiratory conditions such as asthma. Together with rhinoviruses A and B, the recently discovered virus is responsible for millions of illnesses yearly at an estimated annual cost of ...

Chaetoceros debilis (marine diatom)

10/30/2013
Chaetoceros debilis (marine diatom), a colonial plankton organism (250x). 1ST PLACE 2013 PHOTOMICROGRAPHY COMPETITION. Credit: Wim van Egmond, Micropolitan Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands Wim van Egmond compared Nikon’s Small World competition to “a colorful stained-glass window that opens into a wonderful, unknown world.” His first-place winning image of Chaetoceros debilis, a ...

Paramecium

10/30/2013
Paramecium sp. showing the nucleus, mouth and water expulsion vacuoles (40x). 4th Place 2013 PHOTOMICROGRAPHY COMPETITION, Nikon Small World Credit: Rogelio Moreno Gill

Transforming ARV treatment

10/30/2013
Professor Yasien Sayed, research leader of the HIV Proteins Research Thrust, Protein Structure-Function Research Unit in the School of Molecular and Cell Biology, has led his group to international acclaim by solving the three-dimensional X-ray crystal structure of the South African HIV-1 subtype C protease. To appreciate the importance of this ...

First fungal farmers found harvesting bacteria

10/30/2013
It's a mould breaker. Researchers have discovered the first fungus that behaves like a farmer. We already know that soil fungi can help bacteria travel quickly from A to B. The fungal filaments provide favourable conditions for the bacteria, and so act as "highways" through the soil. But these highways may ...

New substance effectively combats multi-resistant bacteria

10/30/2013
In Europe alone, more than 25,000 people die each year from infections caused by multi-resistant bacteria. Researchers from University of Copenhagen have now developed and characterized a substance that quickly and effectively kills the virulent bacteria. The substance employs a multifunctional mechanism that reduces the risk of antibiotic resistance. The ...

How a Young Boy, a Cow and a Milkmaid Helped to Conquer Smallpox [Video]

10/30/2013
If you aren’t familiar with the TEDEd series of animated videos, you should be. The series pairs professional educators with top-notch animators to create short video “lessons” on a huge variety of topics in science, medicine and history.
 The latest episode features several of the early attempts to fight smallpox, ...

Researchers discover a new protein fold with a transport tunnel

10/28/2013
The protein LIMP-2 is vital for both humans and animals. If it is absent – due, for example, to a hereditary disease – substances of an unknown nature, probably lipids, accumulate in the organism. Up to now, scientists were unsure what the protein looks like and how exactly it functions. ...

Changes in the Field Can Cut Food Contamination

10/28/2013
Small shifts in agricultural practices can increase or reduce the risk of salmonella and listeria contamination on produce, new research shows. For example, applying manure within a year of harvesting produce boosts the odds of contaminating a field with salmonella, which is the biggest single killer among the foodborne microbes, report ...

HPV Strains Affecting African-American Women Differ from Vaccines

10/28/2013
Two subtypes of human papillomavirus (HPV) prevented by vaccines are half as likely to be found in African-American women as in white women with precancerous cervical lesions, according to researchers at Duke Medicine. The findings, presented on Oct. 28, 2013, at the 12th annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention ...

Scientists raise alarm over spread of Chikungunya virus

10/28/2013
Scientists fear the mosquito-borne virus, Chikungunya, which has infected tens of thousands of people in Papua New Guinea, could spread to Australia. The virus, which originated in Africa, is similar to dengue and causes debilitating joint pain, rashes and fever. Amid an outbreak of the virus in Papua New Guinea, 112 Australians ...

Obesity May Increase Risk of Clostridium Difficile Infection

10/28/2013
Researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have identified obesity as a possible risk factor for clostridium difficile infection (CDI). These findings, which appear online in Emerging Infectious Diseases, may contribute to improved clinical surveillance of those at highest risk of disease. CDI is a ...

Programmed Cell Death

10/28/2013
Gone are the days when bacteria were thought to just grow and divide and not bother to converse with one another. That simple idea has produced mountains of data and most of what we know about bacterial physiology is based on this notion. It turns out, as we know now, ...

Japan tests in Chile bacteria-based method to revive depleted copper mines

10/25/2013
A Japanese government-backed firm has begun testing a new technology to extract copper by using sulphuric acid mixed with multiple species of bacteria at a mine in Northern Chile. Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., known as JOGMEC, will conduct a two-year large-scale experiment to examine whether the red metal ...

Dangerous Fungus Makes A Surprise Appearance In Montana

10/25/2013
What life-threatening illness can you get from repotting plants, attending a rodeo or going spelunking? If you didn't guess histoplasmosis, you're not alone. This week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, chronicle of all things infectious, reports on the surprising appearance of histoplasmosis, a lung infection caused by a fungus, in four ...

Cold virus 'treats prostate cancer' for Birmingham patient (video)

10/25/2013
A patient in Birmingham has undergone landmark gene therapy to treat prostate cancer. The treatment, developed by doctors at University Hospital in Birmingham over the past 15 years, uses a virus modified from the common cold to deliver a powerful chemotherapy drug which at the same time stimulates the patient's immune ...

Your Ethnicity Determines the Species of Bacteria that Live in Your Mouth

10/25/2013
In recent years, scientists have found out all sorts of remarkable things about a group of creatures that are entirely invisible to the naked eye: the trillions of bacteria that colonize every surface of our bodies. These organisms—collectively known as the microbiome—deeply affect our health, governing our intake of fat, our ...

Cantilever sensory array: The Rosetta Stone for antibiotic resistance? (press release)

10/25/2013
On October 25, JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments will publish a novel technique to confront the problem of antibiotic resistance. According to Dr. Joseph Ndieyira, one of the developers involved in the technique, "The use of this technology will allow scientists to understand how antibiotics work, how bacteria develop ...

Fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats proves hardy survivor

10/25/2013
After taking an in-depth look at the basic biology of a fungus that is decimating bat colonies as it spreads across the U.S., researchers report that they can find little that might stop the organism from spreading further and persisting indefinitely in bat caves. Their report appears in the journal PLOS ...

Recalling the Good in the Good Old Days

10/25/2013
In its early days, ca. 1945-1965, molecular biology was a particularly collegial undertaking, characterized by free sharing of research data and a relative lack of egotistical behavior. The reason for this marvel may well have been that there was so much to discover—so many low hanging fruits—that there was room ...

Devastating frog fungus triggers suicide by immune cells

10/24/2013
A deadly fungus spreading like wildfire through amphibian populations causes immune cells to commit suicide, a new study finds. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis kills frogs and other amphibians by infecting the skin, interfering with fluid and electrolyte levels, and ultimately causing death by cardiac arrest. The results have been ...

90 percent of workers come to work when sick

10/24/2013
(MoneyWatch) Do you go to work when you know you are contagious? Chances are, the answer to that is yes, according to a new study by Staples, which finds that 90 percent of American workers go to work when they are knowingly contagious. This is up from 80 percent who ...

Bacteria-sniffing wand could help prevent foodborne illnesses

10/24/2013
One in six Americans (or 48 million people) get foodborne illnesses every year. Better detection can lower that number dramatically. Bacteria detection sniffers have been studied for several years now. They are based on a wireless acoustic wave sensor platform, which is a fancy way of saying that it vibrates ...

Scientists Uncover Frozen Tricks Behind Ice-Seeding Bacteria

10/24/2013
Some bacteria can harness frozen water as a weapon, using special proteins embedded in their outer membranes to help ice crystals form. Triggering frost formation, the bacteria then invades through the damaged tissues of plants. Now, scientists have observed this bacteria's ability for the first time, step-by-step, at a microscopic ...

Child 'Cured' of HIV Remains Free of Virus, Doctors Report

10/24/2013
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A 3-year-old Mississippi girl apparently cured of HIV infection by aggressive treatment right after her birth remains free of the virus, her doctors report. Early treatment with a combination of potent antiretroviral drugs appears to have kept the virus from successfully establishing a reservoir ...

Veterinary scientists track the origin of a deadly emerging pig virus in the United States

10/23/2013
Veterinary researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have helped identify the origin and possible evolution of an emerging swine virus with high mortality rates that has already spread to at least 17 states. A team of researchers led by Dr. X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor ...

Combining profiling and genomics yields novel metabolites

10/23/2013
Researchers studied 10 different cyanobacteria to identify their secondary metabolites (compounds produced during normal cellular metabolism not directly involved in cell growth, that may play an important role in interactions outside the cell) and the genes linked to those molecules. Understanding the metabolic pathways of cyanobacteria is an essential step for ...

Annals of the Malaria War: Move over Angelina Jolie

10/23/2013
We’re driving on a dirt road and my interpreter, one of the friendliest guys I’ve ever met, is absorbed in a conversation with a health worker in our group. Cornfields and rice paddies paint the landscape chartreuse. Donkey carts and herds of goats swerve into the plants when we rumble ...

Single mutation gives virus new target

10/23/2013
A mutation as minute as swapping just one amino acid can completely change the target that a virus will bind to on a victim cell — potentially shifting what kind of cell and eventually what kind of organism a virus could infect. In a new study published online in the journal ...

New Evidence for Role of Specific Virus Causing Type 1 Diabetes

10/23/2013
Type 1 diabetes is a disease caused by the destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is often diagnosed in childhood and requires life-long treatment with daily insulin injections. It is associated with an increased risk for long-term complications which decrease the quality of life and average life-expectancy. Currently ...

Hitchhiking virus confirms saga of ancient human migration

10/23/2013
A study of the full genetic code of a common human virus offers a dramatic confirmation of the "out-of-Africa" pattern of human migration, which had previously been documented by anthropologists and studies of the human genome. The virus under study, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), usually causes nothing more severe ...

Antibiotics Can't Keep Up With 'Nightmare' Superbugs

10/23/2013
We're used to relying on antibiotics to cure bacterial infections. But there are now strains of bacteria that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, and are causing deadly infections. According to the CDC, "more than 2 million people in the United States every year get infected with a resistant ...

Research offers new insight in quest for single vaccine against multiple influenza strains

10/21/2013
A study led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists highlights a new approach for developing a universal influenza vaccine that could protect against multiple flu strains, including deadly pandemic strains. The research appears today in the advance online edition of the scientific journal Nature Immunology. Researchers used the immune suppressing ...

Human African trypanosomiasis

10/21/2013
A false-coloured scanning electron microscope image of an African trypanosome, the parasite which causes sleeping sickness.

Flu Virus Wipes Out Immune System's First Responders to Establish Infection

10/21/2013
Revealing influenza’s truly insidious nature, Whitehead Institute scientists have discovered that the virus is able to infect its host by first killing off the cells of the immune system that are actually best equipped to neutralize the virus. Confronted with a harmful virus, the immune system works to generate cells capable ...

Frontline Investigates the Rise of Deadly, Drug-Resistant Bacteria that Modern Antibiotics Can’t Stop - Press Release

10/21/2013
FRONTLINE Presents Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at 10 p.m. on PBS Addie Rerecich was a happy 11-year-old girl who loved sports and talked a mile a minute. But when a mysterious pain in her hip landed her in the hospital in 2011, she began a downward spiral into the ...

‘Nightmare’ bacteria are real, and the U.S. needs to act fast

10/21/2013
Last spring, Arjun Srinivasan, an associate director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered a presentation to state health officials with some alarming information. Before the year 2000, he said, it was rare to find cases of bacteria resistant to carbapenems, a class of powerful, last-resort antibiotics. But ...

Why Scientists Are Trying Viruses To Beat Back Bacteria

10/21/2013
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-destroying powers to treat infections with ...

Scientists Turn Dr. Frankenstein, Re-Write Bacteria’s Entire Genome

10/21/2013
It may sound like science fiction, but researchers at Yale and Harvard have taken the first steps towards a Dr. Frankenstein-type reality, by fundamentally changing the genetic code of an organism. The scientists were able to rewrite the genetic alphabet of the common bacteria E.coli, creating their very own E.coli organism ...

Much breast milk bought online is contaminated, analysis shows

10/21/2013
Desperate for breast milk, some new mothers who can't nurse their babies are turning to online sources, typically strangers with ample supplies. But a new study finds that human milk bought and sold on the Internet may be contaminated — and dangerous. Nearly 75 percent of breast milk bought through the ...

The role of uncertainty in infectious disease modelling

10/21/2013
The study found that many models provided only cursory reference to the uncertainties of the information and data, or the parameters used Research by scientists at the University of Liverpool has found that greater consideration of the limitations and uncertainties in infectious disease modelling would improve its usefulness and value. Infectious disease ...

A Bacterial Body Clock: Cryptic Periodic Reversals In Paenibacillus dendritiformis

10/21/2013
As humans we live our lives in 24-hour increments—waking, eating, and sleeping at specific times dictated to us not solely by our discerning willpower, but also by the greater underlying persuasion of our circadian rhythm. Based on the earth’s rotation from day into night, we have internalized a deeply rooted ...

Human Neutrophil Peptide-1: A New Anti-Leishmanial Drug Candidate

10/18/2013
Leishmaniasis is a vector borne disease caused by different Leishmania species with different clinical manifestations. Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is endemic and widespread especially among young individuals in Iran. Currently prophylactic or therapeutic vaccines are not available, and in spite of vector control wherever possible, the disease has not been controlled. ...

Study Shows How Staph Toxin Disarms the Immune System

10/18/2013
Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered a new mechanism by which the deadly Staphylococcus aureus bacteria attack and kill off immune cells. Their findings, published today in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, explain a critical survival tactic of a pathogen that causes more skin and heart infections ...

Vaccine Confers Long-term Protection Against Cholera

10/18/2013
A clinical study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases shows for the first time that an oral cholera vaccine (ShancholTM) provides sustained protection against cholera in humans for up to five years. The study showed the vaccine had a protective efficacy of 65% over a five-year period. The landmark study ...

Narrow-Spectrum UV Light May Reduce Surgical Infections

10/18/2013
Despite major efforts to keep operating rooms sterile, surgical wound infections remain a serious and stubborn problem, killing up to 8,200 patients a year in the U.S. A study by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers suggests that narrow-spectrum ultraviolet (UV) light could dramatically reduce such infections without damaging human ...

Promising HIV Vaccine May Take 10 Years to Perfect

10/18/2013
If a breakthrough in developing an HIV vaccine occurred today, scientists and drug companies would need another decade to provide a commercial product. But, after a long struggle, researchers may indeed have made that breakthrough using a new vaccine approach that combines two prior ones. Given that the AIDS pandemic ...

CIC bioGUNE discovers a new form of virus reproduction

10/17/2013
- The laboratory of Dr. Abrescia has described for the first time how the virus PRD1 uses lipids and proteins that are part of its structure to generate a nanotube used to translocate its genome and to penetrate and infect cells. - The finding could boost new strategies to fight ...

Canadian scientists fine-tuning possible Ebola virus therapy

10/17/2013
Scientists at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory are continuing to fine-tune a possible treatment for Ebola virus infection, one of the deadliest known to humankind. In a newly published article, the Winnipeg-based scientists reported that their combination therapy saved three of four cynomolgus macaques and four of four rhesus macaques when it ...

Bacteria-Eating Viruses 'Magic Bullets in the War On Superbugs'

10/17/2013
A specialist team of scientists from the University of Leicester has isolated viruses that eat bacteria -- called phages -- to specifically target the highly infectious hospital superbug Clostridium difficile (C. diff). Now an exciting new collaboration between the University of Leicester, the University of Glasgow and AmpliPhi Biosciences Corporation could ...

Separating the good from the bad in bacteria

10/17/2013
New microfluidic technique quickly distinguishes bacteria within the same strain; could improve monitoring of cystic fibrosis and other diseases. There are good bacteria and there are bad bacteria — and sometimes both coexist within the same species. Take, for instance, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a microbe common in soil and water. This ...

High hopes

10/16/2013
Care must be taken not to raise unrealistic expectations for RTS,S malaria vaccine. Vaccines have been an unparalleled public-health success: they have eradicated smallpox and driven polio to near extinction, and routine childhood immunization saves millions of children a year from death from diseases such as measles, diphtheria, tetanus and ...

Tracking viral DNA in the cell

10/16/2013
Cell biologists and chemists from the University of Zurich reveal how viral DNA traffics in human cells. They have developed a new method to generate virus particles containing labeled viral DNA genomes. This allowed them to visualize, for the first time, single viral genomes in the cytoplasm and the nucleus ...

Prions May Develop Drug Resistance: The Implications for Mad Cow, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

10/16/2013
Clumps of proteins twisted into aberrant shapes cause the prion diseases that have perplexed biologists for decades. The surprises just keep coming with a new report that the simple clusters of proteins responsible for Mad Cow and other prions diseases may, without help from DNA or RNA, be capable of ...

Microbiome meets big social science: What’s the potential?

10/16/2013
Over the last decade or so, biologists have mustered an ever-growing appreciation for the essential role of microbial communities in a diversity of environments. “We’re recognizing that the biosphere is run by microbes at every level,” notes UW-Madison Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology Margaret McFall-Ngai. “They are the pivotal, central ...

Virus may be causing deadly coral 'white plague' epidemic in Caribbean

10/16/2013
The Caribbean Sea is battling an epidemic — a nasty plague that spreads and kills quickly. Unlike the historical Black Plague, which killed millions of people in the Middle Ages, this so-called white plague is devastating populations of marine corals. Scientists long believed the scourge, which first popped up in the ...

Glowing Antibiotics Reveal Bacterial Infections

10/15/2013
Despite surgeons’ best efforts, bacteria often manage to sneak onto medical implants such as bone screws, where they can cause severe infections. Research published today in Nature Communications suggests that using fluorescent antibiotics could reveal such infections before they become too severe. Lead author Marleen van Oosten, a microbiologist at the ...

Beyond antibiotics: “PPMOs” offer new approach to bacterial infection

10/15/2013
Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions today announced the successful use of a new type of antibacterial agent called a PPMO, which appears to function as well or better than an antibiotic, but may be more precise and also solve problems with antibiotic resistance. In animal studies, one form ...

Giving Health Workers Their Own Hand Gel Reduces Operating Room Contamination Significantly

10/15/2013
Simple remedies -- from keeping the antibacterial gel dispenser clean to giving health care workers their own hand sanitizer -- can help keep patients safe by decreasing contamination in operating and recovery rooms, suggest two studies presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2013 annual meeting. Keeping hand sanitizers clean decreases their bacterial contamination ...

Pushing and shoving: A cost factor in protein synthesis

10/15/2013
When cells grow and proliferate, they need to produce large amounts of protein. All this protein is made by ribosomes, therefore rapid growth requires many ribosomes. Because ribosomes are expensive machines for the cell, the cell needs to use them efficiently. In a new study, published in PNAS, a team ...

Discovery of complex symbiotic system comprising the metabolic pathways of mealybugs

10/15/2013
Researchers from AIST, in collaboration with the University of Montana (USA), the Open University of Japan, and others, have discovered that two types of bacteria with extremely reduced genomes endocellularly reside in a nested manner within the symbiotic organ of mealybugs that are known as agricultural pests, and that more ...

Why Is Cheating In Science Research On The Rise?

10/15/2013
The vast majority of researchers in the science field are honest and conscientious. But that's not the case for all of them, and a federal agency that tracks misconduct and cheating in the field is seeing increases. Click "source" to read more and listen to podcast.

Device speeds concentration step in food-pathogen detection

10/15/2013
Researchers have developed a system that concentrates foodborne salmonella and other pathogens faster than conventional methods by using hollow thread-like fibers that filter out the cells, representing a potential new tool for speedier detection. The machine, called a continuous cell concentration device, could make it possible to routinely analyze food or ...

The Government's Shut Down, the Flu Virus Isn't

10/15/2013
Two weeks into the government shutdown, flu season is about to ramp up. And without full-scale infectious-disease surveillance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experts said, health consequences for the nation could range from unsettling to disastrous. Normally, the CDC monitors influenza outbreaks across state lines. The agency continually ...

Lather Up for Global Handwashing Day

10/14/2013
Every day of the year, it seems, is a special day devoted to some aspect of our lives. The most obvious are Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter and of course, Canada Day. But there are a number of lesser known days that mark a special part of our human existence. In ...
10/14/2013
With the discovery of Mimivirus ten years ago and, more recently, Megavirus chilensis[1], researchers thought they had reached the farthest corners of the viral world in terms of size and genetic complexity. With a diameter in the region of a micrometer and a genome incorporating more than 1,100 genes, these ...

Clashes over China's prized caterpillar fungus

10/14/2013
Looking like a small brown twig on the end of a crinkled yellow worm, the caterpillar fungus is for its believers a lifesaver, a cure for cancer and a potent aphrodisiac sometimes known as "Himalayan Viagra". In a dirty, dimly-lit room in a backstreet of one of China's poorest rural towns, ...

Vesiculation: Another Bacterial Skill

10/14/2013
Microbiology, we will agree, is a vast subject where many important aspects are likely to evade one’s sight. Here’s an example—the formation of vesicles from the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. This phenomenon, known as vesiculation, is widespread and noteworthy for enhancing our understanding of bacterial capabilities and for its ...

A bacterium reveals the crucible of its metallurgical activity

10/14/2013
An international consortium led by CEA researchers in collaboration with the CNRS, has succeeded in characterizing the structure and function of a protein involved in the production of magnetite nanomagnets in magnetotactic bacteria. This protein, MamP, is crucial to the metallurgical activity of the bacterium. It is this protein that ...

New botox super-toxin has its details censored

10/14/2013
A new type of botulinum toxin – the deadliest substance known – has been discovered. Because it does not yet have an antidote, the DNA sequence behind it has been withheld from public databases. This is the first time a sequence has been kept secret over security concerns. Injecting a mere ...

Printable Biotechnology

10/14/2013
Cells, biological circuits, and individual biomolecules organize themselves and interact with the environment. Use of these capabilities in flexible and economically efficient biotechnological production systems is in the focus of the "Molecular Interaction Engineering" (MIE) project. It is the objective to develop printed biological circuits and catalysts for biologico-technical hybrid ...

Badgers ultimately responsible for around half of TB in cattle, study estimates

10/11/2013
Badgers are ultimately responsible for roughly half of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle in areas with high TB prevalence, according to new estimates. However, only around six per cent of infected cattle catch TB from badgers, with onward transmission between cattle herds accounting for the remainder, the study suggests. The findings are published ...

Massive mushrooms and zombie fungi

10/11/2013
Giant woven willow sculptures of some of the UK's edible mushroom varieties have sprung up on the lawns at Kew Gardens in west London. Kew's experts look after the largest collection of dried fungi in the world - which also includes more sinister, inedible varieties. Kew's fungarium is opening to the ...

Could Brain-Eating Amoeba Invade Your Faucet?

10/11/2013
Following the September death of a young boy in St. Bernard Parish, La. from a brain-eating amoeba found in household water, state officials have confirmed the same amoeba has been found in a northern Louisiana parish's water. The amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, which proves deadly if water is ingested through ...

No serious adverse reactions to HPV vaccination

10/11/2013
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and their Danish colleagues have monitored HPV-vaccinated girls via patient data registries in order to examine the incidence of a wide range of diseases and thus determine if there are any serious adverse effects of the vaccine. Their results show no significant increase of ...

Innate Virus-Killing Power Discovered in Mammals

10/11/2013
Scientists have a promising new approach to combating deadly human viruses thanks to an educated hunch by University of California, Riverside microbiology professor Shou-Wei Ding, and his 20 years of research on plants, fruit flies, nematodes and mice to show the truth in his theory. Researchers led by Ding, who heads ...

Scientists Find Soaring Variety of Malaria Parasites in Bats

10/10/2013
Researchers have discovered a surprising diversity of malaria parasites in West African bats as well as new evidence of evolutionary jumps to rodent hosts. Led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, and the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, the new study ...

Leishmania parasites with greater infectivity associated with treatment failure

10/10/2013
Visceral leishmaniasis, also called kala-azar, strikes 400,000 people every year and kills around 1 in 10 of its victims. The leishmania parasite, Leishmania donovani, has proven difficult to treat, in part because a large percentage of patients who take the drug of choice, miltefosine, relapse after treatment, coming down with ...

Spinning-disk microscope offers window into the center of a cell

10/10/2013
A new method of imaging cells is allowing scientists to see tiny structures inside the 'control centre' of the cell for the first time. The microscopic technique, developed by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, represents a major advance for cell biologists as it will allow them to investigate structures ...

Cartography of the Human Body

10/09/2013
Artist Sonja Bäumel explores the skin microbiome in her project Cartography of the Human Body. Bacteria isolated from Bäumel’s skin were characterized and grown individually, then used to reconstruct an artificial microbiome with many layers of differently-colored species. Giant petri dishes grew imprints of the new microbial layer, creating a ...

Growing bacteria keep time, know their place

10/09/2013
Working with a synthetic gene circuit designed to coax bacteria to grow in a predictable ring pattern, Duke University scientists have revealed an underappreciated contributor to natural pattern formation: time. In a series of experiments published Oct. 8, 2013, in the journal Molecular Systems Biology, associate professor of biomedical engineering Lingchong ...

3-D Printed Microscopic Cages Confine Bacteria in Tiny Zoos for the Study of Infections

10/09/2013
By caging bacteria in microscopic houses, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin are studying how communities of bacteria, such as those found in the human gut and lungs, interact and develop infections. In a recent experiment they demonstrated that a community of Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause some skin ...

New More Effective Antimicrobials Might Rise From Old

10/09/2013
By tinkering with their chemical structures, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have essentially re-invented a class of popular antimicrobial drugs, restoring and in some cases, expanding or improving, their effectiveness against drug-resistant pathogens in animal models. Writing in the October 7 Early Edition of PNAS, ...

PathoGenetix Research Shows Rapid Identification of Multiple Salmonella Serovars in Food Samples

10/09/2013
New research presented at the 4th American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Conference on Salmonella today demonstrates culture-independent identification and strain typing of multiple Salmonella serotypes directly from enriched food samples using PathoGenetix’s Genome Sequence Scanning (GSS) technology. PathoGenetix, Inc., a commercial-stage developer of an automated system for rapid bacterial identification, will ...

Norovirus Vaccine Reduces Symptoms of Illness by More Than Half

10/07/2013
An investigational vaccine appears generally well tolerated and effective against the most common strain of norovirus, reducing the main symptoms of the gastrointestinal (GI) infection, vomiting and/or diarrhea, by 52 percent, suggests research being presented at IDWeek 2013™. Currently, there is no treatment or cure for norovirus, the most common cause ...

Innovative approach could ultimately end deadly disease of sleeping sickness

10/07/2013
A tag team of two bacteria, one of them genetically modified, has a good chance to reduce or even eliminate the deadly disease African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, researchers at Oregon State University conclude in a recent mathematical modeling study. African trypanosomiasis, caused by a parasite carried by the tsetse fly, ...

Study Looks at the Changing Bacterial Mix After Menopause

10/07/2013
The mix of bacteria in the vagina changes as women go through menopause. And a certain mix is typical after menopause in women who have vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA), a common cause of vaginal dryness and sexual pain, finds a team at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. They suspect ...

Vaccination Campaign Doubles HBV Mutations

10/07/2013
A universal infant vaccination campaign in China has led the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) to more than double its rate of "breakout" mutations. These mutations may enable the virus to elude the vaccine, necessitating new vaccination strategies. Researchers at the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and University of ...

History: Great myths die hard

10/07/2013
Finding that part of the story of Louis Pasteur's rabies vaccine is false, Héloïse Dufour and Sean Carroll explore how science fables are born, spread and die. John Snow's ending of London's 1854 cholera outbreak, Joseph Lister's development of antiseptic surgery, Alexander Fleming's invention of the drug penicillin — the history ...

Good C-DIFF Agents May Keep Our Homeland Safe

10/07/2013
Rogue agents always add a thrilling plot twist in any spy television show, movie or Tom Clancy novel. The devastating impact these evildoers have on the world increases suspense and concern for the characters -- and bystanders -- who may become victims. Inevitably, it is up to those who strive ...

Salt-Tolerant Bacteria Improve Crop Yields

10/07/2013
Uzbek microbiologist Dilfuza Egamberdieva hopes to apply her new agricultural technique soon in Uzbekistan to boost the yield of economically important crops such as wheat, cotton, tomato and cucumber. She presented her work at this year's TWAS General Meeting. Egamberdieva, group leader at the National University of Uzbekistan, at Tashkent, has ...

New Drug Candidate Found for Fungal Lung Infections

10/07/2013
On a molecular level, you have more in common with shower curtain mold or the mushrooms on your pizza than you might think. Humans and fungi share similar proteins, a biological bond that makes curing fungal infections difficult and expensive. Current costs to treat these stubborn infections can top $50,000 ...

Parallel ERV-mediated evolution of blue egg color in chickens

10/07/2013
The delightful word 'oocyan' refers to the trait of blue-green eggshell color that occurs in native chickens of Chile (Mapuche fowl) and some of their descendants in North America and Europe, as well as certain Asian chicken breeds (e.g. Dongxiang, Lushi). Oocyan is an autosomal dominant trait, and recent papers in ...

UF researchers report cats may be the key to human HIV vaccine

10/04/2013
Blood from HIV-infected human subjects shows an immune response against a cat AIDS virus protein, a surprise finding that could help scientists find a way to develop a human AIDS vaccine, report University of Florida and University of California, San Francisco researchers. Their findings appear in the October issue of the ...

Rutgers Scientists Discover Molecules that Show Promise for New Anti-Flu Medicines

10/04/2013
A new way to attack flu viruses is taking shape in laboratories at Rutgers University, where scientists have identified chemical agents that block the virus’s ability to replicate itself in cell culture. These novel compounds show promise for a new class of antiviral medicines to fight much-feared pandemic influenzas such as ...

Critical tool for brain research derived from 'pond scum'

10/04/2013
The poster child for basic research might well be a one-celled green algae found in ordinary lakes and ponds. Amazingly, this unassuming creature—called Chlamydomonas—is helping scientists solve one of the most complex and important mysteries of science: How billions of neurons in the brain interact with one another through electrochemical ...

Important step-forward in mission to tackle parasitic worm infections

10/04/2013
Gastrointestinal parasitic infections, which are worm infections in the intestine, affect nearly one quarter of the world population and have been heavily linked with poverty in poorer regions. They normally result in a chronic, long-lived infection associated with poor quality of life and health problems. A team led by Dr Mark ...

How an Aggressive Fungal Pathogen Causes Mold in Fruits and Vegetables

10/04/2013
A research team led by a molecular plant pathologist at the University of California, Riverside has discovered the mechanism by which an aggressive fungal pathogen infects almost all fruits and vegetables. The team discovered a novel “virulence mechanism” — the mechanism by which infection takes place — of Botrytis cinerea. ...

UC Riverside research has large implications for controlling insect-born diseases worldwide

10/04/2013
Insects are repelled by N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET. But exactly which olfactory receptors insects use to sense DEET has eluded scientists for long. Now researchers at the University of California, Riverside have identified these DEET-detecting olfactory receptors that cause the repellency — a major breakthrough in the field of ...

Key Mechanism Behind Herpes Revealed

10/04/2013
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have for the first time managed to measure the internal pressure that enables the herpes virus to infect cells in the human body. The discovery paves the way for the development of new medicines to combat viral infections. The results indicate good chances to ...

Spectacular Microscopic Art Is Also World-Changing Science

10/04/2013
Fernan Federici’s microscopic images of plants, bacteria, and crystals are a classic example of finding art in unexpected places. A couple years ago, Federici was working on his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Cambridge University studying self-organization, the process by which things organize themselves spontaneously and without direction. Like a flock ...

A microbe's fountain of youth

10/04/2013
The yeast S.pombe is one of the best-studied microbes in the world. First isolated from East African millet beer over a century ago, it's been used as a model organism in molecular and cell biology for the past sixty years. And yet scientists have now just uncovered what may be ...

Scientists Discuss The Reality Of A Zombie Apocalypse: Exclusive

10/04/2013
Hollywood has amplified the idea of a zombie apocalypse for a long time, and the stories have grown increasingly popular in pop culture, particularly due to TV shows like ‘The Walking Dead‘ and movies like ‘World War Z.’ However, when you take science fiction out of the equation and add real-world ...

Poop pill may treat stubborn, deadly C. diff bacteria

10/04/2013
Transplanting fecal matter has been one of the best remedies at treating a tough bacterial infection known as Clostridium difficile (C. diff). Scientists are now saying they can give all the benefits of poop in a tiny pill. This new pill method is a less yucky way to do "fecal transplants." ...

Recruiting E. coli to combat hard-to-treat bacterial infections

10/02/2013
The notorious bacteria E. coli is best known for making people sick, but scientists have reprogrammed the microbe — which also comes in harmless varieties — to make it seek out and fight other disease-causing pathogens. The researchers’ report appears in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology and describes development ...

TB vaccine developed at McMaster University

10/02/2013
McMaster University researchers are about to launch Canada’s first tuberculosis (TB) vaccine clinical trial with a vaccine totally designed, manufactured and tested within McMaster. "The exciting thing for McMaster is that this is translational research that has gone from the basic science where the vector has been designed here at McMaster, ...

DOES DEADLY FROG FUNGUS LURK IN INSECTS?

10/02/2013
An ancient skin fungus that has been killing frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians may be hiding in invertebrates such as insects. The skin fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), also known as amphibian chytrid, got attention in 1993 when dead and dying frogs began turning up in Queensland, Australia. Since then it has ...

Antarctica's Salt-Loving Microbes Swap DNA

10/02/2013
Microbes living in Antarctica's saltiest lake swap huge chunks of genetic material as a means of surviving their harsh environment, a new study finds. The single-celled organisms, called haloarchaea for their salt-loving ways, are biologically distinct from bacteria, algae and other tiny creatures that can thrive in extreme settings. Their Antarctic home ...

Science Take: Bacteria's Private Line

10/02/2013
The first of New York Times new Science Take series examines how a kind of bacteria can organize coordinated, wavelike attacks on prey using a stealth communication system. Click "source" to VIEW VIDEO.

My Dishwasher Is Trying to Kill Me: Extreme Conditions Suit Pathogenic Fungus

10/02/2013
A potentially pathogenic fungus has found a home living in extreme conditions in some of the most common household appliances, researchers have found. A new paper published in the British Mycological Society journal, Fungal Biology, published by Elsevier, shows that these sites make perfect habitats for extremotolerant fungi (which includes ...

Plasmas attack bacterial cells on several levels

10/02/2013
As they destroy bacteria very efficiently, plasmas constitute an alternative to chemical disinfectants and potentially to antibiotics, as well. How they achieve this effect has been investigated by biologists, plasma physicists and chemists at the Ruhr-Universität (RUB). Cold atmospheric-pressure plasmas attack the prokaryote’s cell envelope, proteins and DNA. “This is ...

Legionella bacteria found in compost products

10/02/2013
A study conducted at the University of Strathclyde investigating the presence of Legionella in compost, has found that the bacteria exist in a significant number of commercial products. The research, the first substantial analysis of Legionella in UK composts, suggests that the bacteria are a common part of the microflora found ...

Hacking Bacteria To Do Our Bidding: Photos

10/02/2013
Scientists regularly tap into biological systems to find solutions for human problems. Although they work with plants and viruses in the lab, bacteria have many advantages as a starting point. When programmed in certain ways, bacteria can store data, clean dangerous waste, produce film-like images and even make renewable fuel. David ...

Bacterial Artistry - Serratia marcesens

09/30/2013
Serratia marcesens is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in soil, water, on plants and in animals and thrives in damp conditions. This organism is well known for its production of the blood red pigment, prodigiosin. Production of prodigiosin can be influenced by several variables, including temperature, nutrient ...

STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS

09/30/2013
The bug lives harmlessly in the noses of about a third of us. But it can turn rogue, causing skin infections—or worse. Heavy use of antibiotics since the middle of the last century has prompted the evolution of deadly superbug strains. Photograph by Martin Oeggerli, with support from School of ...

Your Smartphone Could Help Fight Disease

09/30/2013
For the majority of history, germs were an unknown entity. Their effects, from fermentation to illness were known, and yet no one exactly knew the cause. Then, nearly 350 years ago, Antoine van Leeuwenhoek, a one-time draper, looked through a flat lens made of ground glass and saw for the ...

Highland honey kills bacteria, Glasgow study suggests

09/30/2013
Honey from bees kept in the Highlands is effective in treating infections, according to new research. Glasgow University's School of Veterinary Medicine, which did the testing, said it could potentially be used for treating humans and animals. Manuka honey, which is largely exported from New Zealand, is already used to help treat ...

A hidden genetic code for better designer genes

09/30/2013
How rare 'words' in bacterial genes boost protein production. Scientists routinely seek to reprogram bacteria to produce proteins for drugs, biofuels and more, but they have struggled to get those bugs to follow orders. But a hidden feature of the genetic code, it turns out, could get bugs with ...

UC Davis Researchers Find How Viral Infection Disrupts Neural Development in Offspring, Increasing Risk of Autism

09/30/2013
Activating a mother’s immune system during her pregnancy disrupts the development of neural cells in the brain of her offspring and damages the cells' ability to transmit signals and communicate with one another, researchers with the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience and Department of Neurology have found. They said the ...

E. coli Keeps Its Powder Dry

09/30/2013
Whether inhabiting soil, fresh water, or marine ecosystems, bacteria are constantly facing the threat of numerous and effective predators such as protists, nematodes, or phages. To defend against such predation, bacteria have evolved a number of strategies, including getting larger in size, moving faster, producing defensive secondary metabolites, and forming ...

MERS At One: The Deadly Virus Drizzle

09/25/2013
We have the dubious privilege of observing a new disease in the midst of being born. The disease could go on to spread around the world, stall out as a minor, local blight, or disappear altogether. Scientists have been observing its emergence for a year now, and while they know ...

Adjusting bacteria in intestines may lead to obesity treatments

09/25/2013
A drug that appears to target specific intestinal bacteria in the guts of mice may create a chain reaction that could eventually lead to new treatments for obesity and diabetes in humans, according to a team of researchers. Mice fed a high-fat diet and provided tempol, an anti-oxidant drug that may ...

Researchers discover new microbe near Chilean coastal fault line

09/25/2013
A team of researchers from McMaster and the University of Concepción are shining a light on rare sulfur-loving microbes off the coast of Chile. The group's work near coastal fault lines has identified a previously unknown type of molecule, macplocimine A, which produces valuable natural chemicals that are known to function ...

Foot Cream Kills HIV by Tricking Cells to Commit Suicide

09/25/2013
Ciclopirox is currently approved by the FDA as a topical antifungal cream (Credit: Fougera) A common drug that dermatologists turn to treat nail fungus appears to come with a not-so-tiny side effect: eradicating HIV. In a study performed at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, not only does the drug Ciclopirox completely ...

Toxin-producing bacteria integrated into a pest insect

09/25/2013
A small cicada-like insect called the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) threatens the world's citrus industries, transmitting an incurable and lethal citrus disease. This notorious pest harbors two bacterial species within cells specially prepared for the purpose of symbiosis. Whereas these symbionts are believed to be essential for the host ...

It takes a(n academic) village to determine enzyme's function

09/23/2013
Scientists have sequenced the genomes of nearly 6,900 organisms, but they know the functions of only about half of the protein-coding genes thus far discovered. Now a multidisciplinary effort involving 15 scientists from three institutions has begun chipping away at this mystery – in a big way. Their work to ...

Bacteria don’t always work ‘just in time’

09/23/2013
'Just in time' - not only cars are being built according to this principle nowadays. Aircraft, mobile phones and computers are also produced following this method, in which all components are delivered exactly at the time when they are needed. This saves storage capacity and therefore cash. Hence it is ...

Dengue fever, chikungunya: a potential vector discovered in Mayotte

09/23/2013
IRD researchers and their partners at the French Regional Health Agency, Indian Ocean, have identified a new mosquito species in Mayotte, which could be a vector of dengue fever and chikungunya hitherto unknown. Stegomyia pia , as the scientists have named it, in fact belongs to a group of species ...

Smile! New Nanotube Surface Promises Dental Implants That Heal Faster and Fight Infection

09/23/2013
A brighter, better, longer-lasting dental implant may soon be on its way to your dentist's office. Dental implants are posts, usually made of titanium, that are surgically placed into the jawbone and topped with artificial teeth. More than dentures or bridges, implants mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. ...

The Microscopic Flash Mob

09/23/2013
Every day we see animals migrating through the air, across plains, and in the oceans, in beautifully coordinated patterns; starlings flock together in the thousands while sardines swim together in enormous shoals. These social behaviors are important in allowing animals to socialize, avoid predators, and find refuge and food. But ...

Scientists find life coming to Earth from space

09/20/2013
Scientists from the University of Sheffield believe they have found life arriving to Earth from space after sending a balloon to the stratosphere. The team, led by Professor (Hon. Cardiff and Buckingham Universities) Milton Wainwright, from the University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology found small organisms that could have come ...

Toxoplasma infection permanently shifts balance in cat-and-mouse game

09/20/2013
The toxoplasma parasite can be deadly, causing spontaneous abortion in pregnant women or killing immune-compromised patients, but it has even stranger effects in mice. Infected mice lose their fear of cats, which is good for both cats and the parasite, because the cat gets an easy meal and the parasite gets ...

The Secret Life of Underground Microbes: Plant Root Microbiomes Rule the World

09/20/2013
We often ignore what we cannot see, and yet organisms below the soil's surface play a vital role in plant functions and ecosystem well-being. These microbes can influence a plant's genetic structure, its health, and its interactions with other plants. A new series of articles in a Special Section in ...

Novel Gene Discovery Could Lead to New HIV Treatments

09/20/2013
A team of researchers led by King's College London has for the first time identified a new gene which may have the ability to prevent HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from spreading after it enters the body. Published in Nature today, the study is the first to identify a role ...

Antibacterial products fuel resistant bacteria in streams and rivers

09/20/2013
Triclosan – a synthetic antibacterial widely used in personal care products – is fueling the development of resistant bacteria in streams and rivers. So reports a new paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, which is the first to document triclosan resistance in a natural environment. Invented for surgeons in ...

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

09/20/2013
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 several days to ...

Novel treatment for gonorrhea acts like a “live vaccine” and prevents reinfection, UB animal study shows

09/18/2013
Administered intravaginally, microsphere treatment reverses suppression of immunity and circumvents antibiotic resistance. A new gonorrhea treatment, based on an anti-cancer therapy developed by a Buffalo startup company, has successfully eliminated gonococcal infection from female mice and prevented reinfection, according to research published today by University at Buffalo scientists in the ...

Researchers discover new organism: Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life

09/18/2013
Researchers at the University of Arkansas have discovered and characterized a new organism that will help scientists understand the molecular mechanisms and ancestral genetic toolkit that enabled animals and fungi to evolve into diverse, multicellular life forms. Jeffrey Silberman, a professor of biological sciences, isolated a new unicellular anaerobic eukaryote, and ...

CDC sets threat levels for drug-resistant 'superbugs'

09/18/2013
Health officials have been warning us about antibiotic overuse and drug-resistant "superbugs" for a long time. But today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sounding the alarm in a new way. For the first time, the CDC is categorizing drug-resistant superbugs by threat level. That's because, in their conservative ...

Pig-manure fertilizer linked to human MRSA infections

09/18/2013
People living near pig farms or agricultural fields fertilized with pig manure are more likely to become infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, according to a paper published today in JAMA Internal Medicine1. Previous research has found that livestock workers are at high risk of carrying MRSA, compared to the ...

Predictive model a step toward using bacteria as a renewable fuel source

09/18/2013
A new transcriptomics-based model accurately predicts how much isoprene the bacterium Bacillus subtilis will produce when stressed or nourished. This model marks a step toward understanding how changes in the bacteria's environment affect gene expression and, in turn, isoprene production. Isoprene is a volatile liquid currently derived from oil that ...

Novel vaccine approach to human cytomegalovirus found effective

09/18/2013
An experimental vaccine against human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, which endangers the developing fetus, organ transplant recipients, patients with HIV and others who have a weakened immune system, proved safe and more effective than previous vaccines developed to prevent infection by the ubiquitous virus. The first-of-its-kind approach to preventing human CMV infection, ...

Vaccinating cattle against E.coli O157 could cut human cases by 85%

09/17/2013
Vaccinating cattle against the E. coli O157 bacterium could cut the number of human cases of the disease by 85%, according to scientists. The bacteria, which cause severe gastrointestinal illness and even death in humans, are spread by consuming contaminated food and water, or by contact with livestock faeces in the ...

Emericella nidulans

09/17/2013
The spherical spores produced by the fungus Emericella nidulans are coated in a thin layer of the protein hydrophobin. Hydrophobin ensures that water rolls off the spores. Other fungi, such as mushrooms, also have a layer of hydrophobin on their caps. BASF researchers have succeeded in transferring the gene responsible ...

Cause of salamander die-off found: Skin-eating fungus

09/17/2013
A newly discovered fungus that feasts on the skin of amphibians is threatening to decimate a species of salamander in the Netherlands, according to new research. Fire salamanders are one of the most recognizable salamander species in Europe, and are characterized by their distinct yellow- and black-patterned skin. Since 2010, fire ...

In fight against infections, UIC researcher aims to scramble bacteria signals

09/17/2013
Rather than destroying bacteria to fight infections, a University of Illinois at Chicago researcher is trying to "tweak" their savvy communication networks and block the signals that lead to infection and disease. Researchers have known for several decades that bacteria communicate through a process called "quorum sensing," in which colonies send ...

Biologists Discover New Method for Discovering Antibiotics

09/17/2013
Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have developed a revolutionary new method for identifying and characterizing antibiotics, an advance that could lead to the discovery of new antibiotics to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria. The researchers, who published their findings in this week’s early online edition of the journal Proceedings ...

Drug-Resistant Superbugs Kill At Least 23,000 People in the U.S. Each Year

09/16/2013
Each year, more than two million people in the United States develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 of them die as a result, says the first-ever national snapshot of the issue. That toll only rises when other conditions exacerbated by these infections are included in the count. Because it’s ...

UCLA researchers' smartphone 'microscope' can detect a single virus, nanoparticles

09/16/2013
Your smartphone now can see what the naked eye cannot: A single virus and bits of material less than one-thousandth of the width of a human hair. Aydogan Ozcan, a professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and his team ...

It’s Time for Salmonella

09/16/2013
If one were to ask, “What happens when Salmonella infects the gut?” it might not be obvious that you’d also need to ask, “What time is it?” But indeed you’d need to know the latter to appropriately address the former. An invading Salmonella, intent on setting up camp, is trying ...

New technology transforms research in viral biology

09/11/2013
Researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center have developed an innovative system to test how a virus interacts with cells in the body—to see, for example, what happens in lung cells when a deadly respiratory virus attacks them. In the journal Cell Host & Microbe, investigators say such a technique will ...

Biologists uncover mechanisms for cholera toxin's deadly effects

09/11/2013
Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have identified an underlying biochemical mechanism that helps make cholera toxin so deadly, often resulting in life-threating diarrhea that causes people to lose as much as half of their body fluids in a single day. Two groups of scientists working on fruit flies, ...

Bad research rising: The 7th Olympiad of research on biomedical publication

09/09/2013
What do the editors of medical journals talk about when they get together? So far today, it’s been a fascinating but rather grim mixture of research that can’t be replicated, dodgy authorship, plagiarism and duplicate papers, and the general rottenness of citations as a measure of scientific impact. We’re getting to ...

Disease-causing genes spread easily in emerging lethal fungus infection

09/09/2013
A rare, emerging fungal disease that is spreading throughout Canada and Northwestern USA can easily pass its deadly genes to related fungal strains within the species but less readily to more distant relatives, according to a study part-funded by the Wellcome Trust. The findings will help to understand the origins of ...

Drug Cocktail That Protects Monkeys From Deadly Virus May Aid Humans

09/09/2013
A combination of two well-known antiviral drugs protects monkeys against MERS and could potentially be used to save humans from the lethal disease, scientists said on Sunday. Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases gave the drugs, ribavirin and interferon, to half of six rhesus monkeys eight hours ...

Bacteria from lean mice prevent obesity in peers

09/09/2013
But microbes are only part of the story — the effect also depends on a healthy diet. Gut bacteria from lean mice can invade the guts of obesity-prone cage-mates and help their new hosts to fight weight gain. Researchers led by Jeffrey Gordon, a biologist at Washington University in St. ...

Teaching Pseudomonas to Endocytose

09/09/2013
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 1952 ...

Whole Virus HIV Vaccine Excels in Trial

09/05/2013
Phase 1 Clinical Trial (SAV CT 01) of the first and only preventative HIV vaccine based on a genetically modified killed whole virus (SAV001-H) has been successfully completed with no adverse effects in all patients, Western and Sumagen Canada Inc. announced. Click "source" above to read more.

Human antibodies that neutralize respiratory droplet transmissible H5N1 influenza viruses

09/05/2013
There have been several outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses affecting humans over the past decade, the causes of which have been limited to direct human contact with infected birds. Recent publications suggest that a very small number of coding mutations in the viral HA gene render the ...

PRRS Virus Evolution Slows

09/05/2013
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus remains a very important disease of swine in the United States. At the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, hundreds of samples are routinely tested for this virus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) every month. This test can differentiate between the two main ...

Multiple Mutations Often Needed to Make TB Bacteria Drug-Resistant

09/05/2013
Tuberculosis (TB) drug resistance is not an all-or-none phenomenon, according to new research from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Rather, TB-causing bacteria often accumulate mutations in a step-wise fashion, with the initial mutation having minimal impact but poising the bug to later develop high-level resistance upon acquisition of ...

Chobani Pulls 'Fizzy,' 'Swelling' Yogurt Off Shelves

09/05/2013
NEW YORK -- Chobani is pulling some of its Greek yogurt from supermarket shelves after hearing of "swelling or bloating" in cups. The company said it has investigated and found a type of mold commonly found in dairy that may be to blame. Click on "source" above to read more.

Victory in the Battle against Brucella: From bench to battlefield

09/03/2013
After six years of focused research, Rice-Ficht, director of the Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC), her co-principal investigators and team are nearing completion on the first human Brucella vaccine. Brucella bacteria cause brucellosis in both humans and animals. In humans, brucellosis ...

Your Gut Bacteria May Predict Your Obesity Risk

09/03/2013
Bacteria in people's digestive systems -- gut germs -- seem to affect whether they become overweight or obese, and new research sheds more light on why that might be. The findings, from an international team of scientists, also suggest that a diet heavy in fiber could change the makeup of these ...

Amazon Virus Moves Quicker than Dengue

09/03/2013
An Amazon virus that causes symptoms similar to those of dengue had part of its action mechanism unraveled by researchers from UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro). Click "source" to read more.

Mtb Craves Sweets

09/02/2013
Tuberculosis is an ancient disease that still affects millions of people, largely in developing countries. A startling statistic valued by fundraisers for tuberculosis research is that this devastating disease claims three lives every minute worldwide. Since a major factor underlying this important health threat is the alarming rate at which ...

Gut Lecture

09/02/2013
Over the many years that I taught microbiology to medical students, perhaps my least favorite lecture was the one on the “normal flora,” what we now call the microbiome. What used to make me grumpy was that I could talk only in vague generalities, rambling about the intestinal flora being ...

The Amazing Story of a Mammal Virus That Became a Bird One

08/28/2013
This is one the most extraordinary and convoluted evolutionary tales that I have ever heard. It’s the origin story of a group of viruses called REVs. It’s the tale of how naturalists and scientists inadvertently created a bird virus out of a mammalian one through zoo-collecting and medical research. To understand ...

Die-off of bottlenose dolphins, linked to virus, is worst in 25 years

08/28/2013
A widespread die-off of bottlenose dolphins off the Mid-Atlantic Coast — the worst of its kind in more than a quarter-century — almost certainly is the work of a virus that killed more than 740 dolphins in the same region in 1987 and 1988, marine scientists said Tuesday. Since the beginning ...

New Zealand botulism scare likely a false alarm

08/28/2013
A botulism scare that damaged New Zealand's international reputation for providing top quality and safe dairy products was likely a false alarm. New Zealand government officials said Wednesday they had found no sign of botulism bacteria after retesting ingredients used in recalled milk products. Dairy company Fonterra sparked a global recall of ...

MSF Starts Emergency Rabies Intervention in DRC

08/28/2013
The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started a rabies intervention in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after an alarming number of people were bitten by rabid dogs. With ten deaths already reported, the emergency intervention aims to prevent any further ...

Randomized Treatments May Be More Effective at Stopping Disease Outbreaks

08/28/2013
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 pharmacy hours, beach ...

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

08/28/2013
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 (e.g., decaying wood), relies on various microbial symbionts within its intestinal tract, ...

Gastroenteritis Hospitalizations in Adults Reduced Since Start of Infant Rotavirus Vaccination

08/28/2013
“Implementation of infant rotavirus vaccination in 2006 has substantially reduced the burden of severe gastroenteritis among U.S. children younger than 5 years,” write Paul A. Gastanaduy, M.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues. “Whether indirect protection (due to reduced transmission of rotavirus) extends to ...

Bacteria Study Offers Clues to Typhoid Mary Mystery

08/26/2013
Scientists are one step closer to explaining how Typhoid Mary could have infected dozens of New Yorkers over a 12-year career as a cook, killing at least three, without having ever been sick herself. A new study by scientists at Stanford University’s medical school, published this month in Cell Host & ...

Pollutant-eating bacteria not so rare

08/26/2013
Dioxane, a chemical in wide industrial use, has an enemy in naturally occurring bacteria that remove it from the environment. Researchers at Rice University have found that these bacteria are more abundant at spill sites than once thought. They are designing tools to help environmental engineers determine the best way to ...

New study explores how dengue virus changes mosquito behavior

08/26/2013
Biting mosquitoes are not only annoying but can be dangerous, even deadly. A new study involving researchers at the University of Notre Dame explores a potential biological mechanism through which disease virus can alter the behavior of mosquitoes. In a previous study, led by Alexandre Peixoto of Fiocruz in Brazil, ...

BT-R3 Mediates Killing of the Malaria Vector Anopheles Gambiae by Bacillus Thuringiensis

08/26/2013
Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), led by Dr. Lee Bulla, have demonstrated for the first time the selective cytotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis Cry4B toxin is mediated by BT-R3. The Cry toxins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis exert their insecticidal activity by binding with high-affinity to their ...

Mycorrhizal Fungi: The World’s Biggest Drinking Straws And Largest Unseen Communication System

08/26/2013
Quick, which is the biggest symbiotic association on Earth? Did you guess the mycorrhizae? They are the huge symbioses between fungi and the roots of most terrestrial plants. Their total size is not easy to measure because not all the fungal filaments in soils are mycorrhizal nor are the mycorrhizal ...

Bacteriophage

08/21/2013
These bacteria-infecting viruses, phages for short, are the most abundant life-form on the planet, their number far exceeding that of stars in the universe. Trillions inhabit each of us. Photograph by Department of Microbiology, Biozentrum, University of Basel/Photo Researchers, Inc., All Images Colorized

New Explanation for Key Step in Anthrax Infection Proposed

08/21/2013
A new hypothesis concerning a crucial step in the anthrax infection process has been advanced by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md. The research teams have explored the behavior of the toxins ...

Infection During Newborn's First Week of Life Associated With Bacterial Infection in the Mother

08/21/2013
Infection during a newborn's first 7 days of life is associated with bacterial infection or colonization in the mother. Early-onset neonatal infection, defined as infection in the first 7 days of life, is associated with maternal infection and colonization, a systematic review and meta-analysis by Grace Chan (Johns Hopkins School ...

Caulobacter crescentus

08/20/2013
The common waterborne bacterium Caulobacter crescentus reproduces asymmetrically. When a cell divides, one of its daughter cells is a free-swimming “swarmer,” powered by a hairlike flagellum. The other, “stalk” daughter cell is immobile, anchoring itself to a surface with one of nature’s strongest glues, resisting five tons of force per ...

Target 2 forms of iron to control cystic fibrosis lung infection

08/20/2013
The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa needs iron to establish and maintain a biofilm in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, and therapies have been proposed to deprive the bacteria of this necessary element. However, these techniques may not work, according to a new study published in mBio®, the online open-access journal ...

Plankton may spread oyster herpes virus

08/20/2013
Plankton may be spreading a herpes-like virus that has been devastating Pacific oyster farms across the world, newly published research has found. Veterinary scientist Dr Richard Whittington, of the University of Sydney, and colleagues, report their findings on Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in a recent issue of the journal Diseases ...

Officials Warn Of Dangers Of Tick-Borne Powassan Virus

08/20/2013
A Poughkeepsie high school senior died suddenly, after he was bitten by a tick and contracted a severe virus. As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Joseph Elone’s family said doctors had been treating their son for a summer cold – until he collapsed on the front lawn. Elone, 17, was actually a ...

Bacterial toxins cause deadly heart disease

08/20/2013
University of Iowa researchers have discovered what causes the lethal effects of staphylococcal infectiveendocarditis—aserious bacterial infection of heart valves that kills approximately 20,000 Americans each year. According to the UI study, the culprits are superantigens—toxins produced in large quantities by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria— which disrupt the immune system, turning it ...

Bacteria and Fungi Together: A Biofuel Dream Team?

08/20/2013
A group of researchers enlist fungi and E. coli to make the first biofuel of its kind. It is an obvious idea—in fact, it’s how nature disposes of trees after they die. Yet before researchers at the University of Michigan tried it, no one had paired bacterium with fungus to ...

Why our colons are happy homes for bacteria

08/19/2013
Biologists have figured out how it’s possible for some beneficial gut bacteria to reside and thrive in the ever-changing gastrointestinal tract. The human body is full of tiny microorganisms—hundreds to thousands of species of bacteria collectively called the microbiome—which are believed to contribute to a healthy existence. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract—and the ...

HELICOBACTER

08/19/2013
Helicobacter pylori (yellow), a common bacterium that lives in the stomach lining, increases the risk of stomach cancer (brown cells) and peptic ulcers. But over time H. pylori can reduce stomach acid and acid reflux, which may help fend off esophageal cancer. The microbe also appears to help protect us ...

STREPTOCOCCUS

08/19/2013
A colorized electron microscope image captures delicate chains of streptococcus in a laboratory sample. Though some strep infections can be deadly, many strains are harmless—among the thousands of benign beings that make their home in our bodies. Photograph by Martin Oeggerli, with support from School of Life Sciences, FHNW

Bacterial Predators Feast on “Superbugs”

08/19/2013
Scientists are turning to predatory bacteria to defeat drug-resistant infections. Microbiologists led by Daniel Kadouri, now at Rutgers University, lately have focused on two such predators—Micavibrio aeruginosavorus, which latches onto a germ and sucks out its innards, and Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, which burrows into and parasitically reproduces within its prey. Kadouri's ...

Cleaning up toxic waste: directed evolution vs. designed machines

08/19/2013
Some heavy metals are required in trace amounts for the survival of living organisms, however at higher concentrations these metals can be incredibly toxic. In Europe, the elements of highest concern are arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, tin, and thallium, all of which can be produced ...

UC Davis researchers discover molecular target for the bacterial infection brucellosis

08/19/2013
UC Davis scientists have uncovered a potential drug target for the development of an effective therapy against the debilitating, chronic form of the bacterial disease brucellosis, which primarily afflicts people in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. Brucellosis, which affects about 500,000 people worldwide each year, typically is caused by ingestion of ...

Oddly Microbial: Programmed Cell Death

08/19/2013
The lab was a crime scene; dead and dying cells were everywhere—but did they commit mass suicide or were they murdered? The burly young post doc who discovered the corpses sat in the corner sobbing softly, his PI by his side. She was trying in vain to comfort her most ...

New virus could help rule out mad cow

08/16/2013
Researchers have sequenced the genome of an astrovirus that causes symptoms similar to mad cow disease. While this particular new virus is unlikely to pose a threat to human health or the food supply, the new findings are critically important because they provide researchers with a relatively simple diagnostic tool that ...

Major Find in Fight Against Ebola Virus

08/16/2013
The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla has made a major advance in the fight against the Ebola virus by greatly clarifying how it replicates and spreads a disease that causes horrific illness and, in many cases, death. Biologist Erica Ollmann Saphire and her collaborators spelled out the chemical chain reaction ...

A durable, bacteria-killing surface for hospitals

08/16/2013
Scientists at EPFL have developed a new method for making antimicrobial surfaces that can eliminate bacteria under a minute. The technology, now tested in a hospital, shows enormous potential for preventing hospital-acquired infections. One of the biggest problems for hospitals is maintaining a sterile environment and protecting its patients from acquiring ...

Spaceflight Alters Bacterial Social Networks

08/16/2013
When astronauts launch into space, a microbial entourage follows. And the sheer number of these followers would give celebrities on Twitter a run for their money. The estimate is that normal, healthy adults have ten times as many microbial cells as human cells within their bodies; countless more populate the ...

Bacteria-Powered Light Bulb Is Electricity-Free

08/16/2013
Bacteria is experiencing a boon as of late. Just recently, microorganisms have been used to make a better sunscreen. Another bright idea comes from scientists who are using bacteria as the key ingredient in a biological light bulb that requires no electricity. Created by three undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin, ...

Watching Bacteria Evolve, With Predictable Results

08/16/2013
If we could somehow rewind the history of life to the dawn of the animal kingdom, it would be unlikely that we humans would ever evolve, the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould argued. The history of life was shaped by too many flukes and contingencies to repeat its course. Scientists can’t ...

Researchers create three-dimensional model of bacterium

08/16/2013
Certain bacteria can build such complex membrane structures that, in terms of complexity and dynamics, look like eukaryotes, i.e., organisms with a distinct membrane-bound nucleus. Scientists from Heidelberg University and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) made this discovery employing new methods in electron microscopy. The research team succeeded in ...

Bent Out of Shape: Stressed Bacteria Accumulate Misfolded Proteins and Stop Growing

08/16/2013
Whether a man, a mouse or a microbe, stress is bad for you. Experiments in bacteria by molecular biologists in Peter Chien’s lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with others at MIT, have uncovered the mechanism that translates stress, such as exposure to extreme temperature, into blocked cell growth. ...

Bacteria in drinking water are key to keeping it clean

08/16/2013
Bacteria commonly found in drinking water creates conditions which enable other- potentially harmful – bacteria to thrive, says research by engineers from the University of Sheffield. The research, published in the latest issue of Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, points the way to more sophisticated and targeted methods of ensuring ...

Boy infected with rare brain-eating amoeba in Florida

08/13/2013
Another child has been infected with a rare, brain-eating parasite, less than a month after Kali Hardig ended up in an Arkansas hospital, fighting for her life. The new patient is 12-year-old Zachary Reyna, his family told CNN affiliate WBBH. A spokesperson for the Hendry-Glades Health Department in LaBelle, Florida, said ...

Breaking up the superbugs' party

08/13/2013
The fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs has taken a step forward thanks to a new discovery by scientists at The University of Nottingham. A multi-disciplinary research team at the University's Centre for Biomolecular Sciences has uncovered a new way of inhibiting the toxicity and virulence of the notorious superbug, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria ...

The Hidden Life of Microscopic Fungi

08/13/2013
Most mushrooms actually do not produce the visible fruiting bodies known to us as boletus, champignons, or toadstools. Many fungal species are the familiar “mold” and other unappetizing films, or are completely unknown to us. Here, you can discover some of the remarkable shapes and lifestyles of these inconspicuous yet ...

Virus-derived particles target blood cancer

08/13/2013
Ottawa researchers have developed unique virus-derived particles that can kill human blood cancer cells in the laboratory and eradicate the disease in mice with few side effects. The study is published in Blood Cancer Journal by co-senior authors Drs. David Conrad and John Bell of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute ...

High-angle helix helps bacteria swim

08/13/2013
t’s counterintuitive but true: Some microorganisms that use flagella for locomotion are able to swim faster in gel-like fluids such as mucus. Research engineers at Brown University have figured out why. It's the angle of the coil that matters. Findings are reported in Physical Review Letters. A high-angle helix helps microorganisms ...

MRSA strain in humans originally came from cattle

08/13/2013
A strain of bacteria that causes skin and soft tissue infections in humans originally came from cattle, according to a study to be published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The researchers who conducted the genetic analysis of strains of Staphylococcus aureus known as ...

Polymicrobial Infections: Perhaps The Rule, Not The Exception

08/12/2013
The recent film World War Z describes an apocalyptic event where a rabies-like virus spreads via bite wounds to the majority of Earth’s population and turns them into zombies. Since the world’s leading virologist dies early in the film, it is up to Brad Pitt’s character to find the source ...

Pictures Considered # 7. Cocci Divide at The Equator

08/12/2013
In 1962 Cole and Hahn published in Science an unassuming sounding paper entitled Cell wall replication in Streptococcus pyogenes. The authors asked the question: do strep cells synthesize their cell wall by intercalating new parts at different sites on their surface or does this take place at one site only? ...

GM rice delivers antibodies against deadly rotavirus

08/09/2013
Researchers have added an antibody to fight rotavirus into the rice genome. A strain of rice genetically engineered to protect against diarrhoeal disease could offer a cost-effective way to protect children in developing countries, according a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation yesterday (8 August). Researchers engineered the rice, ...

New Middle Eastern Virus Linked to Camels

08/09/2013
Anytime a novel virus infects human populations, scientists focus on tracing its origins. And this time their search led to the humped dromedary. After a Saudi Arabian national died unexpectedly last September, scientists have been tracking the emergence of a new virus, never before seen in people, that has since been ...

How to Achieve a Well-Balanced Gut: 'Peacekeeper' in the Gut Identified

08/09/2013
Creating an environment that nurtures the trillions of beneficial microbes in our gut and, at the same time, protects us against invasion by food-borne pathogens is a challenge. A study published on August 8 in PLOS Pathogens reveals the role of a key player in this balancing act. SIGIRR is a ...

HELPER CELLS APTLY NAMED IN BATTLE WITH INVADING PATHOGENS

08/09/2013
By tracking the previously unknown movements of a set of specialized cells, Whitehead Institute scientists are shedding new light on how the immune system mounts a successful defense against hostile, ever-changing invaders. Central to the immune response is the activity inside structures known as germinal centers (GCs), which form in the ...

Bacterial pair puts the fix on undersea nitrogen

08/08/2013
Two species of bacteria living on the ocean floor have teamed up in a unique symbiotic relationship to form a critical link in the Earth’s nitrogen cycle, reports a research team that includes two University of California, Davis, microbiologists. The scientists, led by researchers affiliated with the University of Southern California, ...

What Makes Good Bacteria Go Bad? It's Not Them, It's You

08/08/2013
Imagine a friend of a friend brings his family to stay with you — his family of tiny survivalists. For weeks or months you all live quietly side by side with no problems. You share meals. Your kids play together. Then one day you get sick — maybe felled by a ...

Financial Advice from Germs

08/07/2013
For many, the totality of economics can be somewhat unnerving, especially when it comes to personal financial security. We live in a capitalist world driven by free markets and personal investments. Making the right choices with money could mean incredible success, while a mistake could cost someone their future. There are ...

Bat killing WNS fungus confirmed in Arkansas

08/07/2013
A fungus that leads to a deadly disease that has killed almost seven million bats in the US is continuing its spread westwards, results have shown. Officials said the disease had been confirmed in Arkansas after samples tested positive for the fungus known to cause white-nose syndrome (WNS). To date, there is ...

Gene protects beer crop from nasty fungus

08/07/2013
Finding the gene that gives barley resistance to leaf rust could benefit people who rely on the crop for food and beer. Researchers have discovered that the gene Rph20 provides resistance to leaf rust in some barley variety adult plants. “Leaf rust is a fungal disease that could destroy almost a third ...

Genetic Code Shows Bird Flu In China Spread Between People

08/07/2013
When a new strain of bird flu cropped up in China last winter, the billion-dollar question was whether the deadly virus could transmit between people. Now, Chinese scientists offer the first clear evidence that the bird flu is indeed contagious, although only slightly. A father, who became sick in March, passed the ...

Best Way to Kill Lab Animals Sought

08/07/2013
Researchers are gathering this week to debate the most humane methods of dispatching lab animals, which are primarily rodents. Killing research animals is one of the most unpleasant tasks in science, and it is imperative to do it as humanely as possible. But researchers who study animal welfare and ...

The grim trail of bacteria left by flies in hot weather is revealed

08/07/2013
The current hot spell of weather has seen increased activities by flies whether in the kitchen or across picnic food and barbecues. It may make grim reading but every fly leaves a calling card in the form of bacterial deposits. These deposits come not only from their legs, but also from the ...

From harmless colonizers to virulent pathogens: UB microbiologists identify what triggers disease

08/06/2013
The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae harmlessly colonizes the mucous linings of throats and noses in most people, only becoming virulent when they leave those comfortable surroundings and enter the middle ears, lungs or bloodstream. Now, in research published in July in mBio, University at Buffalo researchers reveal how that happens. Click "source" ...

Amoeba farms bacteria for food and weapons

08/06/2013
There are new details about how the world’s smallest farmer picks up edible bacteria and then harvests them like crops. The organism, a social amoeba called Dictyostelium discoideum, carries not one but two strains of bacteria. One strain is the “seed corn” for a crop of edible bacteria, and the other ...

This Psychedelic Art Is Actually Bacteria

08/06/2013
This swirling mass may look like some kind of LSD trip, but it's actually fractal artwork created using bacteria. Produced by Eshel Ben-Jacob—a scientist-cum-artist at Tel Aviv University—the piece came about thanks to two strains of bacteria which grew together in interesting and weird ways. to grow in different ways. Smithsonian ...

Super sunscreen from fjord bacteria

08/06/2013
Norwegian researchers have recently discovered a microorganism with very special properties – a bacteria living in Trondheim Fjord with the Latin name Micrococcus luteus. It possesses a trait which is rare and highly sought-after by medical science and the cosmetics industry – a pigment which can absorb long-wavelength UV radiation ...

Hog Farms Battling to Contain Deadly Virus

08/05/2013
The outside world is not allowed in a sanitized and isolated pig farm here, not far from the Iowa border. Visitors must shower before entering, scrubbing from head to toe, trading their street clothes for disinfected coveralls that have never left the premises. Everything inside the temperature-controlled barn housing 3,000 sows ...

China halts import of New Zealand milk powder because of botulism bacteria

08/05/2013
China has halted imports of some New Zealand milk powders after a company disclosed that three batches of an ingredient used in sports drinks and baby formula tested positive for a strain of bacteria that causes botulism. The New Zealand-based Fonterra Group said Saturday that three batches of its whey protein ...

From The Program of 1st Annual Meeting Society of American Bacteriologists, 1899

08/05/2013
Wouldn’t you be tempted to attend such a session if it were part of a current-day ASM meeting? The first five papers ever delivered to a meeting of the Society of American Bacteriologist (now the ASM) are so utterly relevant to our concerns that they could be delivered now. ...

Weathering the Storm…the Archaeal Way

08/05/2013
Our understanding of microbial life is greatly biased by our narrow focus on microbes as they grow in the laboratory. Yet, as discussed previously in this blog, microbes can persist in various dormant forms for extended periods of time. Sporulation (from the Greek “spora” or seed) is perhaps the best-known ...

Kansas company recalls 50,000 pounds of ground beef products

08/01/2013
A Kansas company is recalling about 50,000 pounds of ground beef products over fears of E. coli contamination. The National Beef Packing Co. products, which were shipped nationwide, may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday. There have been no reported cases of illness. In an online ...

Packaged salad mix named as source of cyclospora stomach virus in some states; 372 total cases reported

08/01/2013
Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska did not name the brands of salad mix they say are responsible for the illnesses. A total of 15 states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, have reported cyclospora cases since mid-June. Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska on Tuesday identified prepackaged salad mix ...

What We Can Learn From the Quantum Calculations of Birds and Bacteria

08/01/2013
As an undergraduate at Oxford University in the mid-1970s, K. Birgitta Whaley struggled to choose between chemistry and physics. Now, as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of its Quantum Information and Computation Center, she doesn’t have to: Her research interests span all realms quantum, including ...

Breath Analysis Reliably Indicates Presence, Level of Infection in Mice

08/01/2013
Noninvasive method could enable rapid diagnosis in humans without need for blood tests. Breath analysis may prove to be an accurate, noninvasive way to quickly determine the severity of bacterial and other infections, according to a UC Irvine study appearing online today in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. Employing a chemical ...

How bacteria 'invest' their meagre resources to bring about evolutionary success

08/01/2013
For the first time the complex interplay between bacterial investment strategies and their outcomes has been recreated and analysed by researchers at the University of Sydney and University of Exeter. The study is published today in the journal Ecology Letters. Co-author Dr Tom Ferenci from the University of Sydney's School of Molecular ...

3-D Molecular Syringes: Scientists Solve Structure of Infection Tool Used by Yersinia Bacterium

07/31/2013
Abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea -- these symptoms could point to an infection with the bacterium Yersinia. The bacterium's pathogenic potential is based on a syringe-like injection apparatus called injectisome. For the first time, an international team of researchers including scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, ...

More on ‘Nightmare Bacteria’: Maybe Even Worse Than We Thought?

07/31/2013
In my last post I talked about the under-appreciated emergence of “nightmare bacteria” (those are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s words, not mine) that are widely distributed in hospitals and nursing homes around the world and do not respond to a last-ditch small family of antibiotics called carbapenems. ...

How Eating the Right Bacteria Could Give Your Body Superpowers

07/31/2013
No man is an island. If anything, every man is a sentient, mobile farm for the countless quadrillions of bacteria that colonize us. And by introducing the right bacteria into that equation, you can give your body one heck of a boost. Every person on this planet could reasonably be considered ...

In the deep, bioluminescent bacteria bloom bright

07/31/2013
Imagine swimming to the bottom of the sea, the water growing impossibly deep and dark the farther you travel. At these depths, beyond the reach of the sun, live strange new sources of light. Fish, jellyfish, and even bacteria light up these midnight waters. According to new research in PLOS ONE, ...

Fungal biology: Finding yeast's better half

07/31/2013
Scientists long believed that the fungal pathogen Candida albicans was incapable of producing haploid cells—which contain only one copy of each chromosome, analagous to eggs and sperm—for mating. Mixing of genes in sexual reproduction helps generate the diversity that is the raw material for evolution, and C. albicans' inability to ...

Microbiome research goes without a home

07/31/2013
Trillions of microorganisms call the human body home. But ‘home’ for many US scientists studying these microscopic squatters is about to change, as funding for human microbiome research scatters across 16 of the 27 centres of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Last year, researchers completed the US$173-million Human Microbiome ...

These Renderings of HIV Show That a Deadly Virus Can Be Beautiful

07/30/2013
For those of us who are normal, non-scientist people, an image of a virus doesn't necessarily hold any meaning. Which floating orb is a healthy cell? And which one is the actual virus? The CGSociety recently invited artists to create renderings of the HIV virus in blood—and the winning images ...

Learning from a virus: Keeping genes under wraps

07/30/2013
By studying how a virus that infects most people at some point in their lives packages its genetic material during infection, an international collaboration of researchers has made discoveries that help scientists better understand virus-host interactions and may open new avenues for therapies. An international collaboration of researchers including Felicia Goodrum ...

Alzheimer's Symptoms 'Linked To Gum Disease And Poor Dental Health'

07/30/2013
Poor dental health and gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests. Brains of deceased dementia patients were found to contain signs of Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bug responsible for unhealthy gums. Scientists believe when the bacteria reach the brain they trigger an immune response that can lead ...

Fear Not the Fecal Transplant

07/30/2013
Officially called a fecal microbiota transplantation, or FMT, the procedure involves the insertion of a small, diluted sample of stool from a donor into the colon of a recipient. (Clearly disgusting.) The swap imports a healthy community of bacteria, the intestinal microbiota, into the system of someone lacking healthful intestinal ...

World changing technology enables crops to take nitrogen from the air

07/30/2013
A major new technology has been developed by The University of Nottingham, which enables all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than expensive and environmentally damaging fertilisers. Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. ...

'Bacterial raincoat' found to protect bacteria from the environment

07/30/2013
Research led by scientists at the University of Dundee has uncovered the workings of a 'bacterial raincoat' that helps to protect bacteria from the changing environment in which they live. Many bacteria grow in large communities called biofilms, where the cells work together and produce a sticky matrix that holds the ...

Virus to Control Potato Moth

07/29/2013
New biological insecticides have emerged in recent years which make use of so-called "entomopathogenic" viruses that are harmful to insects, in particular the baculovirus. To identify the virus in this family that will most effectively control the Guatemalan potato moth, the French-Ecuadorian research team have analysed the pathogens among moths ...

Fine Reading: The Second Skin – Ecological Role Of Epibiotic Biofilms On Marine Organisms

07/29/2013
In contrast to air, the ocean represents a benign environment for most living organisms: With the exception of some harsh marine environments, the means of physicochemical properties are generally not far off the optimum of most species and their fluctuations are moderate, rarely exceeding biological tolerance limits. So begins a ...

The Planctomycetes, Tricky Gram-negatives Awaiting Genetic Manipulation

07/29/2013
Members of the bacterial phylum Planctomycetes (click here and here) inhabit a wide variety of environments throughout the world. What makes them special is that in the mind of some investigators they possess a mix of eukaryotic and prokaryotic structural attributes. Now that is something pretty unique and worth contemplating. ...

Mers: New virus 'not following Sars' path'

07/26/2013
The new Mers virus, which has killed half of those infected, is "unlikely" to reach the same scale as Sars, ministers in Saudi Arabia say. Most of the 90 Mers cases reported so far have been in Saudi Arabia. Mers is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and ...

Yeast reveals secret of ‘hitchhiker’ mutations

07/26/2013
It takes a “group effort” of genetic mutations to give organisms the best shot at evolutionary survival, a new study suggests. Evolution occurs when an individual experiences a spontaneous beneficial mutation in its genome that improves its ability to adapt to its environment. The common view was that a single mutation ...

Women are more vulnerable to infections

07/26/2013
Public-health officials discount role of sex in people's response to flu and other infections. Sabra Klein came to the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction this week armed with a message that might seem obvious to scientists who obsess over sex: men and women are different. But ...

Molluscs vs. bacteria: a new finding on marine natural products biosynthesis

07/26/2013
The gastropod mollusc Scaphander lignarius —a marine invertebrate found in North Atlantic and Mediterranean water— is the first organism, besides bacteria, in which the biosynthesis of lignarenones, organic molecules involved in organism’s chemical defence, has been identified. This is one of the main conclusions of an article published on the ...

Where ‘Nightmare Bacteria’ Came From, And How Our Inattention Helped Them Emerge

07/26/2013
Cast your minds back a few months ago, to when the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced, “We have a very serious problem” with “nightmare bacteria,” and the chief medical officer of the United Kingdom backed him up a few days later, describing a “ticking ...

USF-led study suggests some chronic fatigue syndrome patients may benefit from anti-herpesvirus drug treatment

07/26/2013
Many experts believe that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has several root causes including some viruses. Now, lead scientists Shara Pantry, Maria Medveczky and Peter Medveczky of the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine, along with the help of several collaborating scientists and clinicians, have published an article ...

High pressure lets herpes virus ‘shoot’ DNA

07/26/2013
Researchers have discovered that herpes viruses are like tiny powder kegs waiting to explode—findings that may lead to new therapies and prevention drugs. For more than 20 years scientists suspected that herpes viruses were packaged so full of genetic material that they built up an internal pressure so strong it could ...

Pandoravirus

07/24/2013
Researchers have discovered the largest virus ever, and they've given it a terrifying name: Pandoravirus. A typical virus is a tiny sack of genetic material that injects itself into a much larger cell and uses it to make more viruses. The Pandoravirus is enormous by comparison—large enough to be seen in ...

Is a common food fungus worsening the AIDS epidemic?

07/24/2013
A type of fungus coating much of the stored corn, wheat, rice and nuts in developing countries may be quietly worsening the AIDS epidemic, according to a paper published today in the World Mycotoxin Journal. Kept in sacks piled in barns and warehouses, food stores in countries near the equator are ...

Newly Discovered Marine Viruses Offer Glimpse Into Untapped Biodiversity

07/24/2013
Studying bacteria from the Baltic Sea, UA researchers have discovered an entire array of previously unknown viruses that barely resemble any of the known bacteria-infecting viruses. Researchers of the University of Arizona's Tucson Marine Phage Lab have discovered a dozen new types of unknown viruses that infect different strains of marine ...

Purple Bacteria on Earth Could Survive Alien Light

07/24/2013
Purple bacteria contain pigments that allow them to use sunlight as their source of energy, hence their color. Small as they are, these microbes can teach us a lot about life on Earth, because they have been around longer than most other organisms on the planet. University of Miami (UM) ...

These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack

07/24/2013
You wouldn’t know it, but there is an elaborate stealth communication network in the Earth beneath your feet. This smart web acts like a superorganism, fortifying defensive capabilities and coordinating deadly attacks on unsuspecting targets. But it’s not run by the NSA, the CIA, or the military. This web is made ...

MRSA: Farming up trouble

07/24/2013
Microbiologists are trying to work out whether use of antibiotics on farms is fuelling the human epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria. The sight of just one boot coming through the doorway cues the clatter of tiny hoofs as 500 piglets scramble away from Mike Male. “That's the sound of healthy pigs,” shouts ...

Antibiotic resistance: The last resort

07/24/2013
Health officials are watching in horror as bacteria become resistant to powerful carbapenem antibiotics — one of the last drugs on the shelf. As a rule, high-ranking public-health officials try to avoid apocalyptic descriptors. So it was worrying to hear Thomas Frieden and Sally Davies warn of a coming health “nightmare” ...

Evolution picks up hitchhikers

07/23/2013
In a twist on "survival of the fittest," researchers have discovered that evolution is driven not by a single beneficial mutation but rather by a group of mutations, including ones called "genetic hitchhikers" that are simply along for the ride. These hitchhikers are mutations that do not appear to have ...

Scientists Prove Ticks Harbor Heartland Virus, a Recently Discovered Disease in the United States

07/23/2013
Scientists have for the first time traced a novel virus that infected two men from northwestern Missouri in 2009 to populations of ticks in the region, providing confirmation that lone star ticks are carrying the recently discovered virus and humans in the area are likely at risk of infection. The ...

IU biologists discover highly complex communication system in aquatic cyanobacteria

07/23/2013
Researchers believe they have uncovered unique, advantageous machinery for aquatic life. Land plants can "see," but can microscopic plants see better? New research from Indiana University has uncovered a give-and-take communication system between and within photoreceptors in freshwater-dwelling cyanobacteria that works at a level of complexity beyond those seen in plants ...

Virus Genome Finding Points To New Branch In Tree Of Life

07/22/2013
The organism was initially called NLF, for “new life form”. Jean-Michel Claverie and Chantal Abergel, evolutionary biologists at Aix-Marseille University in France, found it in a water sample collected off the coast of Chile, where it seemed to be infecting and killing amoebae. Under a microscope, it appeared as a ...

HPV virus 'linked to third of throat cancer cases'

07/22/2013
One third of people diagnosed with throat cancer are infected with a form of the HPV virus, a study suggests. HPV (human papillomavirus) is the major cause of cervical cancer, and the virus is known to spread through genital or oral contact. Actor Michael Douglas is reported to have spoken about the ...

The microscopic world of corals [video]

07/22/2013
Here's an amazing video from PBS Digital Studios' “Under H2O” series, with micro images of corals. Corals are beautiful when seen through your own eyes in sunlight, but for scientists at the University of Hawaii, seeing corals in this manner is not enough. They are using a revolutionary new tool called ...

Pakistan Battles Polio, and Its People’s Mistrust

07/22/2013
Usman, who limps on a leg bowed by the polio he caught as a child, made sure that his first three children were protected from the disease, but he turned away vaccinators when his youngest was born. He was furious that the Central Intelligence Agency, in its hunt for Osama bin ...

Study lays groundwork for norovirus antiviral treatments

07/22/2013
An animal model of the human norovirus created at the University of Michigan Health System lays the groundwork for understanding the biology of the pesky virus and developing antiviral drug treatment. Well-known as the virus that impacts cruise ship vacations, norovirus leads to misery on land too. The virus spreads quickly ...

Microbial ‘Starstuff’

07/22/2013
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 ...

Study Analyzes Dynamical Properties in Antibiotic Resistance Enzyme

07/19/2013
Global structural properties have changed across bacterial families without putting limits on new antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been emerging at an alarming rate. In some of the scariest of these pathogens, the mechanism responsible for the bacteria’s ability to defeat antibiotics is a complex protein molecule embedded in the ...

Changing View on Viruses: Not So Small After All

07/19/2013
There was a time not that long ago when it was easy to tell the difference between viruses and the rest of life. Most obviously, viruses were tiny and genetically simple. The influenza virus, for example, measures about 100 nanometers across, and has just 13 genes. Those two standards, it’s now ...

Even Bacteria Use Social Networks

07/19/2013
The next time your Facebook stream is filled with cat videos, think about Myxococcus xanthus. The single-cell soil bacterium also uses a social network. But forget silly distractions. M. xanthus relies on its connections to avoid getting eaten and to score its next meal. That’s the latest insight from a team ...

Tuberculosis genomes recovered from 200-year old Hungarian mummy

07/19/2013
Researchers at the University of Warwick have recovered tuberculosis (TB) genomes from the lung tissue of a 215-year old mummy using a technique known as metagenomics. The team, led by Professor Mark Pallen, Professor of Microbial Genomics at Warwick Medical School, working with Helen Donoghue at University College London and collaborators ...

I’ve been prescribed an antibiotic. Should I take a probiotic?

07/18/2013
We are not one organism, we are many organisms. And when we disturb the relationship with our symbiotic partners, we can suffer unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening consequences. One of the most fascinating areas of medical research is the study of how our bodies interact with the the various organisms that ...

How Legionella subverts to survive

07/18/2013
Bacteria of the genus Legionella have evolved a sophisticated system to replicate in the phagocytic cells of their hosts. LMU researchers have now identified a novel component of this system. In humans, Legionella is responsible for the so-called Legionnaires’ disease, a form of bacterial pneumonia that is often lethal. The bacteria ...

Unraveling bacterial behavior

07/18/2013
Michael Laub studies the complex interactions that underlie cells’ responses to their environment. Bacteria encounter a constant barrage of ever-changing temperature, acidity and chemical stimuli from their environment. The cells must absorb all of this information and choose the correct response — whether boosting their metabolism, reproducing themselves or counteracting ...

Researchers seek virus genes that enable animal hepatitis E strains infect people

07/17/2013
X.J. Meng, a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and a virologist at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, has received a four-year, nearly $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to better understand the genetic elements that allow hepatitis E virus to transfer from animals to ...

West Nile virus outbreaks will flare up, experts say

07/17/2013
West Nile virus outbreaks are likely to flare up in the coming years, spurred on by warmer, longer mosquito seasons coupled with cuts in disease-control funding that leave authorities unprepared, according to two new studies. After an all-time high in 2003 with nearly 10,000 cases and 264 dead, the virus backed ...

Researchers target the Achilles' heel of bacteria behind hospital-associated infections

07/17/2013
MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University researchers are defeating persistent bacteria known for causing infections in hospitals. The bacteria, Enterococcus faecalis, are the second-leading cause of hospital-associated infections in the U.S., said Lynn Hancock, associate professor of biology and leader of the research. His team has discovered how a regulatory system helps ...

Farmers market chickens could carry more bacteria, study finds

07/17/2013
A new study from Penn State University published in the Journal of Food Science reaffirms the necessity to be extremely careful when handling and cooking chicken, even -- and maybe especially -- if it comes from the farmers market. The study, which was limited in size, found that 90% of the ...

Using bacteria batteries to make electricity

07/17/2013
(Nanowerk News) Their idea is state of the art: Ten Bielefeld students have set their sights on constructing a bio-battery. They want to make use of the bacteria Escherichia coli to convert glucose into energy. With this project, they are taking part in this year’s ‘international Genetically Engineered Machine competition’ ...

E. coli negatively stained

07/16/2013
E. coli negatively stained with 1% Uranyl acetate Courtesy of Alexander Mironov

Asymmetric (Gender) Warfare & Japan’s Rubella Virus Outbreak

07/16/2013
Japan is in the midst of a rubella outbreak that has already infected over 5,000 people in just the first four months of this year. Since the early 2000s, the country has undergone cyclical five-year rubella epidemics, with community-wide outbreaks cresting in the spring and summer. But in the past ...

Findings Offer Alternative Approach to Creating a Universal Influenza Vaccine

07/16/2013
A team of scientists, led by researchers at The Wistar Institute, has determined that it might be possible to stimulate the immune system against multiple strains of influenza virus by sequentially vaccinating individuals with distinct influenza strains isolated over the last century. Their results also suggest that world health experts might ...

How cranberries impact infection-causing bacteria

07/16/2013
Consuming cranberry products has been anecdotally associated with prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) for over 100 years. But is this popular belief a myth, or scientific fact? In recent years, some studies have suggested that cranberries prevent UTIs by hindering bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary ...

H7N9 influenza strain resistant to antivirals, but tests fail to identify resistance

07/16/2013
Some strains of the avian H7N9 influenza that emerged in China this year have developed resistance to the only antiviral drugs available to treat the infection, but testing for antiviral resistance can give misleading results, helping hasten the spread of resistant strains. The authors of a study in mBio this ...
07/16/2013
Researchers from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered that specific types of bacteria that live in the gut are major contributors to lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells. Published online ahead of press today in the journal Cancer Research, the study was led by Robert Schiestl, member ...

Pictures Considered #6. Seeing What Isn't There

07/15/2013
Mapping deletion mutations by genetic tools is one thing, seeing them displayed along the length of a DNA molecule is quite another. But how can one see what isn’t there? In 1968, Ronald Davis and Norman Davidson did just that—visualizing deletion mutations in the genome of coliphage l. They reasoned ...

Researchers glimpse microbial 'dark matter'

07/15/2013
An emerging technique for analysing genomes has given scientists a look at microbes that were until now difficult to study, revealing unexpected links among different branches of the tree of life. Led by Tanja Woyke, a microbiologist at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, researchers ...

Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans: A Unique Exotoxin-Producing Oral Bacterium

07/15/2013
The production and secretion of protein toxins (exotoxins) is a most common strategy among microbial pathogens. Yet, oddly, these virulence factors are fairly rare among oral pathogens, with one exception, the Gram-negative Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. For readers with an interest in taxonomy, this microbe was originally named Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and later ...

How bacteria get inside your house

07/15/2013
Given that they occupy every other niche on earth, including deep sea vents, salt flats and the interior of human bodies, it should come as no surprise that bacteria are also found in human houses. Once inside, they can cause problems; airborne bacteria can be easily move between people and ...

Hypnotic Bacteria Cities Provide Lens Into Trippy, Hidden Universes (PHOTOS)

07/15/2013
You heard it here first: petri dishes are the new canvases. When Tel Aviv based physicist and biologist Eshel Ben-Jacob discovered two new strains of bacteria, paenibacillus dendritiformis and the paenibacillus vortex, he also discovered an untapped art form. The bacteria swim outward into spiraling, complex communities, creating hypnotic, color-filled cities ...

Novel bacterial 'language' discovered

07/15/2013
LMU researchers have identified a yet unknown bacterial cell-cell communication system. In nature, bacteria are no mavericks but live in close association with neighboring bacteria. They have evolved specific cell-cell communication systems that allow them to detect the presence of others and even to build up cooperative networks. LMU microbiologist PD ...

New Retroviruses Found in Polar Bear 'Knut' and Panda 'Bao Bao'

07/15/2013
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are viruses that at some point in the past inserted themselves into the nuclear genome of a host's germ cell. Once integrated in a germ cell the virus would be passed on from one generation to the next and the endogenous retroviral genome would therefore be inherited ...

New Virus Discovered in Stranded Dolphin

07/11/2013
Researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues have identified a new virus associated with the death of a short-beaked dolphin found stranded on a beach in San Diego. It is the first time that a virus belonging to the ...

Six Reasons Why Bacteria Are Good for You

07/11/2013
These days we are constantly bombarded by commercial messages urging us to fight germs and rid ourselves of bacteria. But in the right places and amounts, bacteria are actually very valuable to our health and wellness. Under normal circumstances, friendly bacteria found in our digestive system live with us in ...

Intestinal Bacteria May Fuel Inflammation and Worsen HIV Disease

07/11/2013
Changes in intestinal bacteria may help explain why successfully treated HIV patients nonetheless experience life-shortening chronic diseases earlier than those who are uninfected, according to a new study led by UC San Francisco. These changes in gut bacteria may perpetuate inflammation initially triggered by the body’s immune response to HIV, researchers ...

Lab Tests Key to Identifying, Treating Infectious Diseases

07/11/2013
A new guide developed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) will help physicians appropriately and accurately use laboratory tests for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Laboratory test results drive approximately two-thirds of physicians' medical decisions. Published today in the journal Clinical Infectious ...

Contaminated Ultrasound Gel Tied to Outbreak of Healthcare-Associated Infections

07/11/2013
After a 2011 outbreak of P. aeruginosa, investigators at Beaumont Health System near Detroit, Michigan determined contaminated ultrasound gel was the source of bacteria causing the healthcare-associated infection. The findings emphasize the need for increased scrutiny of contaminated medical products. This study is published in the August issue of Infection ...

Malaria in the Americas presents a complex picture

07/11/2013
Human migrations—from the prehistoric epoch to the present day—have extended cultures across the globe. With these travelers have come unwanted stowaways: mosquito-borne parasites belonging to the Plasmodium species— a group responsible for malaria worldwide. Ananias Escalante, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, as part of a team ...

Saccharomyces cervisiae

07/10/2013
Scanning electron micrograph of yeast, 2013 ATCC Photo Contest Winner, Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/UCSD

Female blacklegged deer tick, Ixodes scapularis

07/10/2013
With its abdomen engorged with a host blood meal, this image depicts a lateral, or side view of a female blacklegged, or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. The blacklegged or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, transmits Lyme disease, a disease caused by a spiral shaped bacterial microbe, Borrelia burgdorferi. This disease is known ...

10 Extreme--And Extremely Pretty--Close Ups of Bacteria and Plants

07/10/2013
Bacteria has the virtue (and sometimes the vice) of being able to grow at incredible speeds—some strains can double in cell count in as little as four minutes. Fernan Federici, a postdoctoral student at the University of Cambridge, is pioneering the art of capturing the split-second process. And the results ...

Breeding Bacteria on Factory Farms

07/10/2013
The story of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals is not a simple one. But here’s the pitch version: Yet another study has reinforced the idea that keeping animals in confinement and feeding them antibiotics prophylactically breeds varieties of bacteria that cause disease in humans, disease that may not readily be ...

'No sex please, we're bacteria': A new type of reproduction

07/10/2013
One species of bacteria seems to get many of the perks of sexual reproduction without actually having sex, a new study finds. Different strains of bacteria called Mycobacterium smegmatis swap large, random bits of DNA prior to reproducing asexually. This process, known as conjugal transfer, produces just as much genetic diversity ...

Bacteria from Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia conceal bioplastic

07/10/2013
In Bolivia, in the largest continuous salt desert in the world, researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have found a bacterium that stores large amounts of PHB, a prized polymer. This biodegradable plastic is used by the food and pharmaceutical industries, for example to produce nanospheres to transport antibiotics. In ...

Big name for a small worm

07/10/2013
An unusual posthumous honour for physicist Max Planck: Biologists in Tübingen working with Ralf J. Sommer have named a newly discovered nematode after the German Nobel laureate. Pristionchus maxplancki is thus the first species to carry the name of the scientist, who died in 1947. The discovery from the Far ...

New Supreme Court Decision Rules That cDNA Is Patentable—What It Means for Research and Genetic Testing

07/09/2013
In a unanimous decision last month, the Supreme Court ruled that naturally occurring genes are not patentable. But, said the Court, cDNA, a man-made copy of the genetic messenger in cells, is patentable. As a geneticist, I have my own opinions about this ruling. But the potential outcomes are important ...

In Defense Of Metaphors In Science Writing

07/09/2013
The reading world gets pretty divided over whether or not it’s okay to apply metaphors and similes to descriptive science writing. It even gets hot and bothered over the use of that most practical parent of metaphors – the analogy. For example, in my 2012 book, Gravity’s Engines, I presented ...

Trial and error

07/09/2013
Italian officials should not go ahead with expensive clinical tests of an unproven stem-cell therapy that has no good scientific basis. The Italian government is planning to oversee a clinical trial of a controversial stem-cell therapy. There are many reasons for the trial to be stopped — and no good reason ...

Bird Vaccine for West Nile Virus

07/09/2013
University of British Columbia researchers have developed a vaccine that may halt the spread of West Nile Virus (WNV) among common and endangered bird species. WNV, a mosquito borne pathogen, arrived in North America in 1999 and is now endemic across the continent. In 2012 alone, WNV killed 286 people in ...

Corals cozy up with bacterial buddies

07/09/2013
New study shows healthy Red Sea corals carry bacterial communities within. Corals may let certain bacteria get under its skin, according to a new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and soon to be published in the journal ...

Ancient origin of hepatitis B viruses revealed by DNA fossils in bird genomes

07/08/2013
The hepatitis B virus originally infected birds back when the dinosaurs still roamed the planet, according to a newly published study of genomic bird DNA, a finding that may help improve human health outcomes. As the old adage goes; "One man's trash is another man's treasure": what has often been described ...

Plastisphere microbes go to sea on flotsam fragments

07/08/2013
We dump huge amounts of plastic waste into the ocean every year, much of it ending up as microplastic – fragments less than 5 millimetres across. Famously, much of it has gathered in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and it may harm animals that inadvertently swallow it. Now, it appears that ...

CRE superbug cases found in at least 43 states

07/08/2013
New York State hospitals will be required to report cases of antibiotic resistant bacteria called CRE. The CDC reports cases have been found in 43 states. Dr. Jon LaPook reports on the efforts being made to control the spread of the superbug that can infect the weakest patients. Click "source" to ...

Parasite helps itself to sugar

07/08/2013
Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes sleeping sickness, is transmitted to mammals by the tsetse fly, and must adapt to the divergent metabolisms of its hosts. A new study shows how it copes with the frugal diet offered by the fly. Sleeping sickness is a deadly human disease in tropical Africa, ...

Zombie Ants and a Cultural Obsession

07/08/2013
You’re in a dark forest, surrounded by misty fog and strange animal noises. You’re on a mission, jumping over traps and snares in search of something you’ve lost dear to you. As you make your way deeper into the forest, you come across an odd glowing plant hanging from a ...

Bacteria Communicate to Help Each Other Resist Antibiotics

07/08/2013
New research from Western University unravels a novel means of communication that allows bacteria such as Burkholderia cenocepacia (B. cenocepacia) to resist antibiotic treatment. B. cenocepacia is an environmental bacterium that causes devastating infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) or with compromised immune systems. Dr. Miguel Valvano and first author ...

Gut Bacteria We Pick Up As Kids Stick With Us For Decades

07/08/2013
Most of the microbes in our guts appear to remain stable for years, perhaps even most of our lives, researchers reported Thursday. An analysis of the bacteria in the digestive systems of 37 healthy women over a period of about five years found, for the most part, little variation over time, ...

Climate Change Alters Soil Bacteria Distribution (podcast)

07/08/2013
When we think about global warming, we tend to fret about things we can see: plants, animals, the polar ice caps. But the effects of climate change may go much deeper: into the earth itself. Because a new study shows that temperature controls where soil-dwelling microbes live. The findings are ...

Genetic signals reflect the evolutionary impact of cholera

07/08/2013
An international research team has used a novel approach to identify genetic factors that appear to influence susceptibility to cholera. The findings by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Broad Institute and the International Center for Diarrhœal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) indicate the importance of pathways involved in regulating ...

Let There Be Light!

07/08/2013
As discussed in a recent epic Perspective on the animal-microbe symbioses (and commented in this blog), we are beginning to understand the many contributions made by each partner. One of the most widely studied symbioses is that of the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the Hawaiian Bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes. ...

Treating TB: What Needs to Be Done to Improve Treatment Rates

07/02/2013
People with tuberculosis (TB) in China often delay going to see a doctor for more than two weeks, finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine. Reasons for this include a poor understanding of TB, increasing costs of treatment not covered by health insurance, and using traditional approaches ...

Anatomy of the HIV Virus (video)

07/02/2013
Click "SOURCE" to view video. CGSociety First prize winner AutoPACK Visualization Challenge. Christopher Harkins (Charkins) from Louisville, KY, USA wins the VIDEO First Prize for 'Anatomy of the HIV Virus'. Artist comments: “I am ecstatic and honored by placing first. I really thought that I wouldn't place first because a lot of ...
07/02/2013
Search and destroy! This image shows us how an immune cell, called a macrophage, attacks foreign bodies like bacteria – or this microbead – completely engulfing it so it can be broken down deep within the cell. Visualized using scanning electron microscopy by Darren Brown, University of Queensland. This image has ...

Protocells formed in salt solution - closer to synthetic life than anyone

07/02/2013
The first cell may have originated in a salty soup in which large biomolecules cluster spontaneously to form a protocell, chemists at Radboud University Nijmegen discovered. PNAS published their work on July 1. How did the first cell originate in evolution? It is a chicken or the egg causality dilemma: a ...

Silver Shows Its Mettle against Bacteria (podcast)

07/02/2013
If you’re plagued by werewolves, reach for the silver. And more mundane health problems may also respond well to the silver solution. Because a new study shows that microbes exposed to a pinch of the precious metal become more vulnerable to antibiotic attack. The research is in the journal Science ...

Placenta may shield baby from ‘viral invaders’

07/02/2013
Cells of the placenta appear to have a unique ability to prevent viruses from crossing from an expectant mother to her growing baby. It may be possible to transfer that trait to other kinds of cells, researchers say. The findings shed new light on the workings of the placenta and ...

The Ribosome: New Target for Antiprion Medicines

07/02/2013
New research results from Uppsala University, Sweden, show that the key to treating neurodegenerative prion diseases such as mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease may lie in the ribosome, the protein synthesis machinery of the cell. The results were recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Prion diseases are fatal ...

New virus strain considered to control rabbits

07/01/2013
Western Australia's Department of Agriculture is considering releasing a new strain of virus to control growing rabbit numbers in regional areas. Department spokeswoman Susan Campell says a rabbit virus was introduced in 1996 and now it is tracking its progress across the state. "So I guess what we're wanting to do is ...

Observing Live Gene Expression in the Body

07/01/2013
Most of our physiological functions fluctuate throughout the day. They are coordinated by a central clock in the brain and by local oscillators, present in virtually every cell. Many molecular gearwheels of this internal clock have been described by Ueli Schibler, professor at the Faculty of Science of the University ...

Study finds biochemical role of crucial TonB protein in bacterial iron transport and pathogenesis

07/01/2013
A Kansas State University-led study has discovered the role of a protein in bacteria that cause a wide variety of diseases, including typhoid fever, plague, meningitis and dysentery. The results may lead to new and improved antibiotics for humans and animals. Phillip E. Klebba, professor and head of the department of ...

This Image Could Lead to Better Antibiotics

06/28/2013
This may look like a tangle of squiggly lines, but you’re actually looking at a molecular machine called a ribosome. Its job is to translate DNA sequences into proteins, the workhorse compounds that sustain you and all living things. The image is also a milestone. It’s the first time the atom-by-atom ...

Survey Shows Increase in Resistance to Drug Therapies Among Bovine Respiratory Disease Cases

06/28/2013
A survey of records of bovine respiratory disease cases at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory showed that drug resistance in one of the primary pathogens that cause BRD, Mannheimia haemolytica, increased over a three-year period. “We have been seeing an increase in the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria that cause ...

Scientists view ‘protein origami’ to help understand, prevent certain diseases

06/28/2013
Scientists using sophisticated imaging techniques have observed a molecular protein folding process that may help medical researchers understand and treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s and cancer. The study, reported this month in the journal Cell, verifies a process that scientists knew existed but with a mechanism they had never ...

Salmonella Infection Is a Battle Between Good and Bad Bacteria in the Gut

06/27/2013
The blockbuster battles between good and evil are not just on the big screen this summer. A new study that examined food poisoning infection as-it-happens in mice revealed harmful bacteria, such as a common type of Salmonella, takes over beneficial bacteria within the gut amid previously unseen changes to the ...

Study ranks social contacts by job and social group in bid to fight infectious diseases

06/27/2013
In the light of Novel Corona Virus, concerns over H7N9 Influenza in S.E. Asia, and more familiar infections such as measles and seasonal influenza, it is as important as ever to be able to predict and understand how infections transmit through the UK population. Researchers at the University of Warwick and ...

Influenza infection increases likelihood of bacterial pneumonia 100-fold, U-Michigan-led study finds

06/27/2013
It's been known for more than two centuries that pneumonia cases increase during flu epidemics. But population-level epidemiological studies looking at seasonal patterns of influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia incidence have revealed either a modest association or have failed to identify any signature of interaction between the two. These seemingly inconsistent observations at ...

Cell Biologist to Begin Work on Discovering Structure of Malaria Parasite Genome

06/27/2013
Malaria is one of the most important infectious diseases in the developing world, with the absence of a vaccine and the development of parasite resistance to commonly used antimalarial drugs complicating efforts to fight the deadly disease. The parasite that causes malaria is Plasmodium, which requires specific human and mosquito tissues ...

Toward broad-spectrum antiviral drugs for common cold and other infections

06/27/2013
Scientists are reporting progress in the search for the first broad-spectrum drugs to combat human rhinoviruses (HRVs), which cause humanity’s most common infectious diseases. Their study on these potential drugs for infections that include the common cold appears in the journal ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. Angus MacLeod and colleagues note ...
06/27/2013
A new study reveals that all children with Crohn’s disease that were examined had a commonly occurring virus – an enterovirus – in their intestines. This link has previously not been shown for this chronic inflammatory intestinal disorder. The findings are being published today in the latest issue of the ...

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

06/26/2013
This negatively-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed ultrastructural morphology of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which was formerly known as novel coronavirus. (MERS-CoV) was identified in 2012 as the cause of respiratory illness in people. Investigations are being done to figure out the source of MERS-CoV and how it ...

The Fungus that Reduced Humanity to The Last of Us

06/26/2013
Pop culture is again in the quickly decaying grasp of a shambling horde. For how many times zombies have appeared, they rarely have a real scientific reason to. Sometimes it’s a supernatural cause as in Dawn of the Dead. Other times it’s a generic “zombie virus” as in The Walking ...

The Germs That Will Make Your Hair Shiny and Lustrous

06/26/2013
Having a bad hair day can be a pain for anyone although for millions of men and women, the problem stems from something more than just bed head. Hair loss, also known as androgenic alopecia continues to be one of the most frustrating and difficult conditions to endure and can ...

Resourceful Microbes Reign in World’s Oceans

06/26/2013
A research team led by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has discovered that marine microbes are adapted to very narrow and specialized niches in their environment. This may explain why so few of these microbes—usually less than 1%—can be grown for study in the laboratory. By utilizing new genetic tools, ...

Deadly piglet virus spreads to nearly 200 U.S. farm sites

06/26/2013
A swine virus deadly to young pigs, and never before seen in North America, has spiked to 199 sites in 13 states - nearly double the number of farms and other locations from earlier this month. Iowa, the largest U.S. hog producer, has the most sites testing positive for Porcine Epidemic ...

Gut Bacteria Allows Insect Pest to Foil Farmers

06/26/2013
Here is a lesson that we’re going to be taught again and again in the coming years: Most animals are not just animals. They’re also collections of microbes. If you really want to understand the animal, you’re also have to understand the world of microbes inside them. In other words, ...

High-Octane Bacteria Could Ease Pain at the Pump: Engineered E. Coli Mass-Produce Key Precursor to Potent Biofuel

06/26/2013
New lines of engineered bacteria can tailor-make key precursors of high-octane biofuels that could one day replace gasoline, scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School report in the June 24 online edition of Proceedings of ...

Glowing Bacteria Control Squid Hosts

06/26/2013
Being jolted awake every morning by an alarm clock is plenty annoying, but at least that alarm doesn’t actually live in your body. The Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) has an internal alarm clock that’s run by a species of glowing bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri. This bacterium and the squid ...

Vaccines Not to Blame for Onset of Guillain-Barré Syndrome: A Study

06/26/2013
Vaccines, including those used in protecting against influenza, do not put a person at increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome despite wide-spread concerns, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Disease. The retrospective study spanned 13 years starting in 1994 and included 415 confirmed cases of individuals ...

Health economics assessment of antimicrobial copper for infection control

06/26/2013
A unique health economics assessment of copper’s role in preventing healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) is being presented this week at the WHO’s International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC) in Geneva, demonstrating rapid payback on the capital investment. Health economics evaluations are typically applied to medication or surgery costs, but this ...

Two Mutations Triggered an Evolutionary Leap 500 Million Years Ago

06/25/2013
Evolution, it seems, sometimes jumps instead of crawls. A research team led by a University of Chicago scientist has discovered two key mutations that sparked a hormonal revolution 500 million years ago. In a feat of "molecular time travel," the researchers resurrected and analyzed the functions of the ancestors of genes ...

Gold Probes May Offer Valuable Insight Into Cancer

06/25/2013
Nanoprobes made from gold could be used to predict people's cancer risk -- and the effectiveness of treatments, following research by University of Strathclyde academics. The nanoprobes could allow scientists to study cancer cells in minute detail -- using a highly-sensitive imaging technique known as FRET microscopy -- with the aim ...

New Palm-Sized Microarray Technique Grows 1,200 Individual Cultures of Microbes

06/25/2013
A new palm-sized microarray that holds 1,200 individual cultures of fungi or bacteria could enable faster, more efficient drug discovery, according to a study published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Scientists at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the U.S. Army Institute ...

Scientists one step closer to preventing bacterial infections of implanted medical devices

06/25/2013
Ground-breaking research by Australian scientists has revealed new insights into how life-threatening bacteria colonise medical devices that are implanted in the human body. The break throughs could help tackle antibiotic resistant infections that develop in groups of microorganisms where cells stick to each other on a surface, otherwise known as biofilms. Biofilms ...

Targeted Viral Therapy Destroys Breast Cancer Stem Cells in Preclinical Experiments

06/24/2013
A promising new treatment for breast cancer being developed at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM) has been shown in cell culture and in animal models to selectively kill cancer stem cells at the original tumor site and in distant metastases with ...

The Microbes We're Made Of (video)

06/24/2013
The human body hosts more than ten thousand different kinds of microbes. Most of these bacteria aren't harmful - in fact, many of them actually aid the immune system. From the Smithsonian Channel. Click "source" to view video.

Study of Insect Bacteria Reveals Genetic Secrets of Symbiosis

06/24/2013
Mealybugs only eat plant sap, but sap doesn't contain all the essential amino acids the insects need to survive. Luckily, the bugs have a symbiotic relationship with two species of bacteria -- one living inside the other in a situation unique to known biology -- to manufacture the nutrients sap ...

Bacteria Sent Into Space Behave in Mysterious Ways

06/24/2013
Colonies of bacteria grown aboard space shuttle Atlantis behaved in ways never before observed on Earth, according to a new NASA-funded study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Recent findings provide important evidence of spaceflight’s effect on the behavior of bacterial communities and represent a key step toward understanding ...

Powerful Gene-Editing Tool Appears to Cause Off-Target Mutations in Human Cells

06/24/2013
In the past year a group of synthetic proteins called CRISPR-Cas RNA-guided nucleases (RGNs) have generated great excitement in the scientific community as gene-editing tools. Exploiting a method that some bacteria use to combat viruses and other pathogens, CRISPR-Cas RGNs can cut through DNA strands at specific sites, allowing the ...

Discovery offers hope against deadly cat virus

06/24/2013
What makes a harmless virus turn lethal? For the deadliest infectious disease in cats, Cornell scientists now know. After gathering the world’s largest sample collection for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), they uncovered the holy grail of a 30-year quest for the mutation that turns it fatal. Scheduled to be published in ...

Norovirus Cases On The Rise In Yellowstone National Park

06/20/2013
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted in a January weekly report that norovirus had taken a stronghold in the US, with numbers of cases rising. The virus, which is associated with flu-like symptoms and causes uncontrollable vomiting, has in fact been showing its ugly face in ...

Scientists date prehistoric bacterial invasions still present in today’s cells

06/20/2013
Long before Earth became lush, when life consisted of single-celled organisms afloat in a planet-wide sea, bacteria invaded the ancient ancestors of plants and animals and took up permanent residence. One bacterium eventually became the mitochondria that today power all plant and animal cells; another became the chloroplast that turns ...

HIV-Derived Antibacterial Shows Promise Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria

06/20/2013
A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh has developed antibacterial compounds, derived from the outer coating of HIV, that could be potential treatments for drug-resistant bacterial infections and appear to avoid generating resistance. These new agents are quite small, making them inexpensive and easy to manufacture. Click "source" to ...

Bacteria Live At 33,000 Feet

06/20/2013
Earth’s upper atmosphere—below freezing, nearly without oxygen, flooded by UV radiation—is no place to live. But last winter, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that billions of bacteria actually thrive up there. Expecting only a smattering of microorganisms, the researchers flew six miles above Earth’s surface in a ...

Silver makes antibiotics thousands of times more effective

06/20/2013
Ancient antimicrobial treatment could help to solve modern bacterial resistance. Like werewolves and vampires, bacteria have a weakness: silver. The precious metal has been used to fight infection for thousands of years — Hippocrates first described its antimicrobial properties in 400 bc — but how it works has been a ...

Dracula’s children may lead to novel drug design

06/20/2013
Vampire bat venom could hold the key to new treatments for stroke and high blood pressure. An international team of scientists led by UQ's Associate Professor Bryan Fry from the School of Biological Sciences has discovered that vampire bat venom contains molecules capable of evading the victim's immune system. “Our ...

Teen's biofuel invention turns algae into fuel

06/19/2013
For a fifth-grade science fair, Evie Sobczak found that the acid in fruit could power clocks; she connected a cut-up orange to a clock with wire and watched it tick. In seventh grade, she generated power by engineering paddles that could harness wind. And in eighth grade, she started a ...

One Step Closer to a Vaccine for a Common Respiratory Disease

06/19/2013
Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The three-dimensional structure of respiratory syncytial virus has been solved by an international team from Finland and Switzerland. RSV is a common cause of respiratory infection, but there is no vaccine available. It causes flu-like symptoms in healthy ...

New Way to Improve Antibiotic Production

06/19/2013
An antibiotic has been found to stimulate its own production. The findings, to be published in PNAS, could make it easier to scale up antibiotic production for commercialisation. Scientists Dr Emma Sherwood and Professor Mervyn Bibb from the John Innes Centre were able to use their discovery of how the antibiotic ...

New Research Backs Genetic 'Switches' in Human Evolution

06/19/2013
A Cornell University study offers further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees some 4 million to 6 million years ago was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences that play roles in turning genes on and off. The study, published June 9 in Nature Genetics, provides evidence for a ...

Researchers engineer synthetic pathways for new antibacterial treatments

06/19/2013
Bacteria, for the most part, thrive in extreme temperatures and in arid conditions. But some types of bacteria have the capacity to do this and more: they grow within diverse environments and adapt easily. One such species is the Bacillus subtilis. Known to make its home in soil and in ...

Mapping Translation Sites in the Human Genome

06/17/2013
Because of their central importance to biology, proteins have been the focus of intense research, particularly the manner in which they are produced from genetically coded templates -- a process commonly known as translation. While the general mechanism of translation has been understood for some time, protein synthesis can initiate ...

Platelets Help Tackle Bacteria

06/17/2013
The cell fragments play a role in the body’s first line of defense against bacterial infection, helping white blood cells grab blood-borne bacteria in the liver. Platelets may contribute to protection against bacterial infection, according to new research published today (June 16) in Nature Immunology. Scientists found that in the ...

Discovery of how a gene that regulates factors involved in bacteria pathogenicity acts

06/17/2013
In a piece of work carried out by the Carbohydrate Metabolism Research Team of the Institute of Agrobiotechnology (a centre jointly owned by the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre, the Spanish National Scientific Research Council-CSIC, and the Government of Navarre), the discovery has been made of the way in which the ...

'Chase and Run' Cell Movement Mechanism Explains Process of Metastasis

06/17/2013
A mechanism that cells use to group together and move around the body -- called 'chase and run' -- has been described for the first time by scientists at UCL. Published in Nature Cell Biology, the new study focuses on the process that occurs when cancer cells interact with healthy ...

Scientists reconstruct the genome of medieval strains of the pathogen responsible for leprosy

06/17/2013
Why was there a sudden drop in the incidence of leprosy at the end of the Middle Ages? To answer this question, biologists and archeologists reconstructed the genomes of medieval strains of the pathogen responsible for the disease, which they exhumed from centuries old human graves. Their results, published in ...

Retrospective, June 2013

06/17/2013
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 pictures you ...

Viral Architecture

06/14/2013
Seeing how the Hepatitis C virus builds ion channels could help researchers find new drugs to fight the disease. Viruses are masters of minimalist design. With only a simple genome and a handful of proteins, a virus can hijack much more sophisticated cells and mimic many of the intra- and ...

Be gone, bacteria

06/14/2013
UI-led team creates first comprehensive guidelines to reduce staph infections after surgery. Staph infections in hospitals are a serious concern, so much so that the term Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is as commonly known as MRI. Far less known is that in many of these cases, patients are infecting themselves. In ...

Nasty toxin helps E. coli survive in water

06/14/2013
Strains of E. coli that produce the Shiga toxin last longer in lake water. The toxin appears to help E. coli fend off predators. “The take-home lesson is that E. coli that produce Shiga toxin persisted longer in recreational water than E. coli that don’t produce this toxin,” says study ...

Bioluminescent art: Beautiful bacteria glow in the dark

06/13/2013
Bioluminescent art blends science and creativity to create images that can only be seen in the dark. What do you get when you add a chemical engineer, a graphic designer and a research scientist? Beautiful art. In a wondrous combination of nature and design, bioluminescent art involves using naturally glowing ...

HIV and ‘hot spring’ virus hijack same protein

06/13/2013
There’s a surprising connection between HIV, Ebola, and viruses that infect organisms called archaea that grow in volcanic hot springs. The viruses hijack the same set of proteins to break out of infected cells, new research shows. In eukaryotes—the group that includes plants and animals—and in archaea—tiny organisms with no defined nucleus ...

Supreme Court Strikes Down Human Gene Patents

06/13/2013
The Supreme Court said human genes isolated by scientists may not be patented, ruling unanimously today in a dispute weighing intellectual property associated with genes known to detect early signs of breast and ovarian cancer. The dispute concerned a 2009 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed among ...

Fine Reading: The gut microbiota of insects – diversity in structure and function

06/13/2013
Now that the mammalian intestinal microbiome has been promoted to organ status, might not such stately respectability be granted to the gut microbiota of other metazoans? If looking for a worthy candidate for such recognition, one could not do better than to consider the varied communities dwelling in the guts ...

Virus That Evolved in the Lab Delivers Gene Therapy into the Retina

06/13/2013
From millions of random mutations, scientists identify a virus that could make gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases safer and more effective. A new delivery mechanism shuttles gene therapy deep into the eye’s retina to repair damaged light-sensing cells without requiring a surgeon to put a needle through this delicate ...

Study builds dossier on JC polyomavirus

06/12/2013
A new study shows that common mutant forms of the deadly JC polyomavirus are not responsible for the pathogen’s main attack, which causes a brain-damaging disease in immunocompromised patients called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. But that finding raises the ominous question of what the mutants might be up to instead. Click 'source" ...

A potential new target to thwart antibiotic resistance

06/12/2013
Viruses in gut confer antibiotic resistance to bacteria. Bacteria in the gut that are under attack by antibiotics have allies no one had anticipated, a team of Wyss Institute scientists has found. Gut viruses that usually commandeer the bacteria, it turns out, enable them to survive the antibiotic onslaught, most ...

Single cells: Same same but different

06/12/2013
If half of a cell population were coloured white and the other half were coloured black, scientists should think all cells are grey. Conventional methods average over thousands of cells, overlooking any cell-to-cell variability. ETH scientists now measured metabolite levels in single yeast cells and unmasked the difference of one ...

Father-Son Duo Reinvent Drug Testing With ‘Digital Lab Rats’

06/12/2013
In 2008, François-Henri Boissel was leading a charmed life. He was a young, successful investment banker working in Tokyo, Japan. And then the market crashed. He thought of sticking it out, waiting until things improved, but then he remembered a conversation he’d had with his father, Jean-Pierre, in the summer of ...

FDA gets to grips with faeces

06/12/2013
Regulator triggers efforts to standardize faecal transplants. The brown slurry is piped through tubes into the top of the human body — or the bottom. It can even come in pill form. For years, doctors have been transferring faeces into ill people’s intestines to replace resident microbes with a fresh ...

In China, concern shifts from food supply to safety

06/12/2013
The Chinese Government seems committed to reforming food safety laws and investing in vital surveillance and monitoring systems, but experts say implementing those efforts could be challenging. Published in the journal The Lancet, a new study suggests that the rapidly growing Chinese economy has led to a gradual change in focus ...

You Say Potato, I Say Double-Stranded RNA

06/12/2013
Amidst the outrage, puzzlement and theories caused by the finding of genetically-modified wheat in an Oregon field, USDA is considering whether to commercialize another dinnertime staple–the potato. Last month, Idaho-based J.M. Simplot asked the Agriculture Department to grant a deregulated status for a new variety of potatoes genetically engineered to reduce ...

'Dark matter' of life: Mysterious bacteria sequenced

06/11/2013
The genome of mysterious bacteria that lurk in hospital drains has been sequenced. Low levels of the bacteria, known only as candidate phylum TM6, have been found in water systems around the world, yet because they could not be cultured in the lab, almost nothing was known about them. The new research, ...
06/11/2013
When hijacking a garbage truck, one might as well make use of the trash. That logic drives how tuberculosis-causing bacteria feed, say Cornell scientists. They report that bacteria-infecting macrophages – garbage trucklike immune cells – slow their hosts' trash-processing abilities to snack on trash they pick up. The study, selected as ...

Fractal patterns spontaneously emerge during bacterial cell growth

06/11/2013
Scientists discover highly asymmetric and branched patterns are the result of physical forces and local instabilities; research has important implications for understanding biofilms and multicellular systems. Despite bacterial colonies always forming circular shapes as they grow, their cells form internal divisions which are highly asymmetrical and branched. These fractal (self-similar) ...

Clearing the BAR to oral vaccines

06/11/2013
A new technology under development by an academic–industry partnership protects oral vaccines from destruction by the digestive system. From the mouth to the small intestine, the digestive system presents a series of challenges designed to protect us by killing ingested bacteria. If a microbe survives the digestive enzymes in saliva ...

Glowing Plants: Crowdsourced Genetic Engineering Project Ignites Controversy

06/11/2013
In April three biohackers from a California Do-It-Yourself biology lab, BioCurious, posted a Kickstarter campaign to crowdsource their plan to bioengineer a glowing plant. They asked for $65,000. But by the close of their campaign at midnight on Thursday, June 6, they had raised a remarkable $484,013. (Meanwhile, BioCurious itself ...

Adult Vaccination Rates Rise, but Not Enough

06/11/2013
Vaccines are just for kids, right? Not any more. U.S. health officials now recommend at least a half dozen vaccines for adults, to prevent pneumococcus virus, hepatitis, shingles and other ailments. And although the portion of adults who get these vaccinations rises slightly each year, the rates are still far ...

In India, test a billion people for HIV

06/11/2013
Testing every person in India’s billion-plus population every five years for HIV would not only be cost-effective but also could save millions of lives for decades to come, a new study suggests. In India most people who are HIV positive don’t know it—even though testing and treatment are relatively cheap and ...

In the shadows

06/10/2013
Plasmodium vivax is one of the human-infectious Plasmodium spp., transmitted by the female Anophele s mosquito. It is a major threat to health in Southeast Asia and South America, infecting a larger number of people than its more deadly cousin, Plasmodium falciparum. Image: A fluorescent microscopy image (400x) of P. vivax ...

How Germs Could Help Us Live on Mars

06/10/2013
At the end of May, 1971, NASA undertook another one of its great leaps for humanity by launching Mariner 9, a satellite destined not for orbit around Earth, but Mars. Around the same time, a highly regarded professor at Cornell, Carl Sagan, hypothesized that Mars might have the potential to ...

Mutant mosquitoes lose their appetite for humans

06/10/2013
What draws a mosquito to bite its host has long been studied from the perspective of the victim—uncovering which smells and chemicals lure the insect in. But researchers at Rockefeller's Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, headed by Robin Chemers Neustein Professor Leslie Vosshall, are aiming instead to get inside the ...

Finally, Farewell to “Stamp Collecting”...

06/10/2013
The perspective paper by Margaret McFall-Ngai and colleagues was recently featured by Elio in this blog, strongly emphasizing its Chicxulub-like impact on microbiology. Here I offer a postscript, a few loosely connected thoughts from a historical perspective about its impact on biology and life sciences in general. Until the 50s of ...

Studies Showing How Bird Flu Viruses Could Adapt to Humans Offer Surveillance and Vaccine Strategies

06/07/2013
Bird flu viruses are potentially highly lethal and pose a global threat, but relatively little is known about why certain strains spread more easily to humans than others. Two studies published by Cell Press June 6th in the journal Cell identify mutations that increase the infectivity of H5N1 and H7N9 ...

Metabolic Model of E. Coli Reveals How Bacterial Growth Responds to Temperature Change

06/07/2013
Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a computational model of 1,366 genes in E. coli that includes 3D protein structures and has enabled them to compute the temperature sensitivity of the bacterium's proteins. The study, published June 7 in the journal Science, opens the door for ...

HIV discovery 'will change your life forever'

06/04/2013
French scientist Francoise Barre-Sinoussi almost didn't get the chance to make one of the greatest medical discoveries of the 20th century. She shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with her colleague Luc Montagnier for identifying HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, a plague that has killed about 35 ...

Polio Virus Discovered in Sewage From Israel

06/04/2013
The Polio virus has been found in a sewage sample from Israel for the first time since 2002, the World Health Organization announced on Monday. But no children or adults newly paralyzed by polio have been identified in Israel or in Gaza or the West Bank. The sample was from Rahat, ...

Stinky feet may lead to better malaria traps

06/04/2013
For decades, health officials have battled malaria with insecticides, bed nets and drugs. Now, scientists say there might be a potent new tool to fight the deadly mosquito-borne disease: the stench of human feet. In a laboratory study, researchers found that mosquitoes infected with the tropical disease were more attracted to ...

Deadly MERS-CoV virus spreads to Italy

06/03/2013
The sometimes deadly MERS-CoV virus has spread to Italy, the World Health Organization said in statements this weekend. Sunday's announcement that two female patients had contracted the virus follows one Saturday that said a 45-year-old man, who had recently traveled to Jordan, had become infected. They are the first three known ...

A Virus Shield That Protects Us From Our Own Bacteria

06/03/2013
There has been a lot of news lately about the bacteria living in our gut—the human gut microbiome. Researchers are learning which bacteria live there, who is naughty and who is nice and even a somewhat distasteful way to replace naughty with nice (a fecal transplant). What gets lost in all ...

Terraforming Mars With Microbes

06/03/2013
Using new advances in synthetic biology and our updated understanding of Martian geochemical conditions, we should be able to inoculate the planet Mars with specially designed extremophilic microbes in an attempt to start (or re-start) life on its surface. This could be the largest and most audacious scientific experiment ever ...

JULIUS RICHARD PETRI: Animated Google Doodle lets viewers mix it up with father of the Petri dish

05/31/2013
SOMETIMES, to achieve broad cultural immortality, it’s less what you made your name in — and much more what you put your name on. That is why, in the wider world beyond the lab, Robert Bunsen’s name burns so bright. And if anyone understands the conditions for how our culture behaves ...

Gut Reaction: Human Colon Replica Demonstrates How E. coli Contaminates Groundwater

05/31/2013
Scientists are great at growing E. coli in the lab. They know exactly under which conditions various strains thrive. Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be learned from the bacteria’s behavior in an ideal, isolated and ultimately unrealistic environment. That is why a group of researchers at the ...

Why MERS virus is so scary

05/31/2013
The head of the World Health Organization warned the world this week of a new virus, awkwardly dubbed MERS-CoV, found in Saudi Arabia. "Looking at the overall global situation, my greatest concern right now is the novel coronavirus," Margaret Chan said, calling it "a threat to the entire world." "We understand too ...

Micro-capsules and bacteria to be used in self-healing concrete

05/31/2013
A new research project involving researchers from Bath aims to develop novel self-healing concrete that uses an inbuilt immune system to close its own wounds and prevent deterioration. The life of concrete structures is reduced when the material cracks and water is able to get at the steel reinforcement, causing rust ...

Researchers develop a faster method to identify Salmonella strains

05/31/2013
A method that promises to reduce by more than half the time it takes health officials to identify Salmonella strains has been developed by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. The finding is important because it promises to significantly speed up the response to many outbreaks of foodborne illness, ...

To cut ICU superbugs, disinfect all patients

05/31/2013
Bathing all patients daily with a germ-killing soap and swabbing antibiotic ointment in their noses may be the best way to reduce the spread of deadly infections, including MRSA. In a new study, these measures reduced the bloodstream infections caused by dangerous pathogens, including the drug-resistant bacteria MRSA, by 44 percent. Hospital ...

Biology Plug N' Play

05/30/2013
When you're hard drive fails, you order a new one online and then swap it out. Why can't we do that for biological parts as well? From DNA robots and "organs-on-a-chip" to nanobristles that grab-and-release drugs, this slideshow explores the two major goals of synthetic biology: to build new biological ...

Team picks apart structure of HIV’s shell

05/30/2013
The first description of the 4-million-atom structure of the HIV’s capsid, or protein shell, could lead to new ways to fight the virus. The findings are highlighted on the cover of the May 30 issue of Nature. “The capsid is critically important for HIV replication, so knowing its structure in detail ...

MRSA study slashes deadly infections in sickest hospital patients (CDC press release)

05/30/2013
Bloodstream infections cut by more than 40 percent in study of over 74,000 patients. Using germ-killing soap and ointment on all intensive-care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections by up to 44 percent and significantly reduce the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ICUs. A new Department of ...

New visualization reveals virus particles have more individuality than thought

05/30/2013
Virus particles of the same type had been thought to have identical structures, like a mass-produced toy, but a new visualization technique developed by a Purdue University researcher revealed otherwise. Wen Jiang, an associate professor of biological sciences, found that an important viral substructure consisted of a collection of components that ...

Viewpoint: The Aquatic Dance of Bacteria

05/30/2013
Researchers apply a new experimental approach to visualize the turbulent motion of swimming bacteria and propose a minimal model that captures their observations. Bacteria are among the oldest and most abundant living species on Earth, and their activity influences the planet’s environmental dynamics in multiple ways. Microbial metabolic products maintain soil ...

Estrogen-Eating Bacteria = Safer Water

05/30/2013
Usually, when you mention bacteria in connection with water, it’s a bad thing. But one Texas A&M engineering researcher believes the right bacteria are a natural weapon for fighting an emerging water contaminant: estrogen. Increasingly sensitive methods of screening water for polluting substances allow environmental scientists to monitor traces of previously ...

Cradle Turns Smartphone Into Handheld Biosensor

05/30/2013
Researchers and physicians in the field could soon run on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, medical diagnostics, food safety and more with their smartphones. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app for the iPhone that uses the phone's built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to ...

Salmonella uses protective switch during infection

05/29/2013
For the first time, researchers have found a particular kind of molecular switch in the food poisoning bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium under infection-like conditions. This switch, using a process called S-thiolation, appears to be used by the bacteria to respond to changes in the environment during infection and might protect it ...

All in one shot (press release)

05/29/2013
A sugar polymer found on the cell surface of multiple pathogens could be key to developing a broad-spectrum vaccine. Developing new vaccines to protect against diseases that plague humans is fraught with numerous challenges—one being that microbes tend to vary how they look on the surface to avoid being identified ...

Research shows copper destroys norovirus

05/29/2013
New research from the University of Southampton shows that copper and copper alloys will rapidly destroy norovirus – the highly-infectious sickness bug. The virus can be contracted from contaminated food or water, person-to-person contact, and contact with contaminated surfaces, meaning surfaces made from copper could effectively shut down one avenue ...

Mapping the Great Indoors

05/29/2013
On a sunny Wednesday, with a faint haze hanging over the Rockies, Noah Fierer eyed the field site from the back of his colleague’s Ford Explorer. Two blocks east of a strip mall in Longmont, one of the world’s last underexplored ecosystems had come into view: a sandstone-colored ranch house, ...

Changing Gut Bacteria Through Diet Affects Brain Function

05/29/2013
UCLA researchers now have the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. In an early proof-of-concept study of healthy women, they found that women who regularly consumed beneficial bacteria known as probiotics through yogurt showed altered brain function, both while in a resting state ...

Rogue Queens, Sex-Changing Fish, and Rain-Making Bacteria: Nature’s Weirdest Life Cycles

05/29/2013
The word 'unnatural' is often used to describe what's considered weird or unusual. But is anything weirder than nature? Just look at 17-year cicadas, poised to flood the U.S. East Coast after having stayed underground since Bill Clinton was President. And cicadas are just the start: Biology abounds with creatures that ...

Tit-for-Tat: A Bacterial Counterattack System

05/20/2013
Microbial ecology may be a young field but it is well understood already that there is a broad spectrum of interactions between bacterial species, ranging from cooperative to competitive. In a recent paper researchers from John Mekalanos’ lab further characterized a recently discovered mechanism for inter-cell communication. This system, called ...

Pictures Considered #4. Koch’s Development of Early InstaGram Positive Photography

05/16/2013
Robert Koch is one of the key figures in early bacteriology, helping develop culture techniques (e.g. solid media), critical reasoning (e.g. Koch’s postulates), and disease etiology (e.g. cholera and tuberculosis). He also published the first photomicrographs of bacteria (Figure 1A) in his 1877 paper Verfahren zur Untersuchung, zum Conservieren und ...

Catch-and-Release

05/16/2013
Another major goal of synthetic biology is to engineer unnatural molecules and compounds into systems and tools that mimic those found in biology. For instance, Joanna Aizenberg and her laboratory have pioneered using self-assembling synthetic nanofibers to generate capture-and-release devices that look strikingly like tiny fingers or tentacles. Image: Scanning electron ...

Pandemic Swine Flu Virus Found in Seals

05/16/2013
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 ...

Resistance to Visceral Leishmaniasis: New Mechanisms Involved

05/16/2013
Researchers from CNRS, Université Toulouse III -- Paul Sabatier and IRD have elucidated new molecular mechanisms involved in resistance to visceral leishmaniasis, a serious parasitic infection. They have shown that dectin-1 and mannose receptors participate in the protection against the parasite responsible for this infection, by triggering an inflammatory response, ...

5 Amazing Benefits Of Gut Bacteria

05/16/2013
The phrase "gut bacteria" might sound icky and repulsive, but modern science may have you soon thinking differently about the bugs that live in your intestinal system. Top researchers around the globe are exploring the bacteria that naturally reside in the bowels of both people and animals, and targeting them ...

Study: Handbags May Have More Bacteria Than A Toilet Seat

05/16/2013
Many ladies love their handbags and will spend a lot of money for the latest and greatest, but a new study says what is inside those bags may be covered in germs worse than what you’ll find in the bathroom. As CBS 2′s Cindy Hsu reported Wednesday, the study said your ...

Clawed frogs spread deadly amphibian fungus

05/16/2013
The African clawed frog, a species used around the world for biomedical research, is spreading an amphibian-killing fungus when they are released into the wild. In a new study, researchers provide the first evidence that the frogs in California harbor a fungal infection that is decimating amphibian populations across the ...

Study: Antibiotic stewardship program using mass spec system reduces hospital stays, costs

05/15/2013
In peer-reviewed study, the accuracy and speed of Bruker's Biotyper analyzer integrated into a comprehensive antibiotic stewardship program reduced hospital stays by days & per patient costs substantially. A co-author of a groundbreaking study documenting reductions in patient length of stay and overall costs from implementation of an antibiotic ...

Keeping Viral Load Low

05/15/2013
Over the past 30 years, the combined efforts of scientists and clinicians have delivered remarkable successes in HIV therapeutics. Since 1987, the FDA has approved more than 30 antiviral drugs, including 12 HIV protease inhibitors and one integrase inhibitor. These drugs stop ~99% of viral replication, essentially transforming HIV infection ...

Study defines level of dengue virus needed for transmission

05/15/2013
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 defining the threshold for transmission, ...

Some of My Best Friends Are Germs

05/15/2013
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 ...

WHO says new coronavirus may be passed person to person

05/13/2013
The World Health Organization says it appears likely that the novel coronavirus (NCoV) can be passed between people in close contact. This comes after the French health ministry confirmed a second man had contracted the virus in a possible case of human-to-human transmission. Two more people in Saudi Arabia are ...

Fecal Transplants in the “Good Old Days”

05/13/2013
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 treat a patient without disrupting their ...

Potential flu pandemic lurks

05/10/2013
In the summer of 1968, a new strain of influenza appeared in Hong Kong. This strain, known as H3N2, spread around the globe and eventually killed an estimated 1 million people. A new study from MIT reveals that there are many strains of H3N2 circulating in birds and pigs that are ...

France Probes 3 Suspected Cases of SARS-Like Virus

05/10/2013
French health officials said Friday they are investigating three suspected cases of a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS, in people who had close contact in the hospital with France's only confirmed case. Beatrice Degrugillers, a spokeswoman for the regional health agency in France's Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, said a nurse at ...

Genes define the interaction of social amoeba and bacteria

05/10/2013
Amoeba eat bacteria and other human pathogens, engulfing and destroying them – or being destroyed by them, but how these single-cell organisms distinguish and respond successfully to different bacterial classes has been largely unexplained. In a report in the journal Current Biology, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine use the model ...

Malaria hope: Bacteria that make mosquitoes resistant

05/10/2013
Researchers have found a strain of bacteria that can infect mosquitoes and make them resistant to the malaria parasite. The study, in the journal Science, showed the parasite struggled to survive in infected mosquitoes. Malaria is spread between people by the insects so it is hoped that giving mosquitoes malaria ...

Pioneer bacteria lay down trails that draw new recruits

05/09/2013
Bacteria may draw other bacteria to a site of infection by laying down trails of a “molecular glue” that lead free-swimming individuals to come together and organize into colonies. In the study, researchers were looking at how a species of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa attach and move about on surfaces. P. ...

Predictably beautiful

05/08/2013
As the bacteria grow within a biofilm, they organize themselves into reproducible patterns and shapes that can be predicted with mathematical models. Image: Confocal microscopy of a bacterial biofilm composed of Escherichia coli expressing the fluorescent proteins mCherry and sfGFP. The image was acquired on a Leica SP5 confocal microscope using ...
05/08/2013
A 65-year-old Frenchman is hospitalized after contracting France's first case of a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS, and French health authorities said Wednesday they are trying to find anyone who might have been in contact with him to prevent it from spreading. It's unclear how or where the man ...

Pitt’s Serendipitous Scientific Discovery Holds Potential in Destroying Drug-Resistant Bacteria

05/08/2013
Through the serendipity of science, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have discovered a potential treatment for deadly, drug-resistant bacterial infections that uses the same approach that HIV uses to infect cells. The National Institutes of Health-supported discovery will be described in the June issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents ...

Bacteria adapt and evade nanosilver’s sting

05/08/2013
Researchers from UNSW have cautioned that more work is needed to understand how micro-organisms respond to the disinfecting properties of silver nano-particles, increasingly used in consumer goods, and for medical and environmental applications. Although nanosilver has effective antimicrobial properties against certain pathogens, overexposure to silver nano-particles can cause other potentially harmful ...

UD-led team develops mathematical model to measure hidden HIV

05/08/2013
Scientists have long believed that measuring the amount of HIV in a person’s blood is an indicator of whether the virus is actively reproducing. A University of Delaware-led research team reports new evidence that hidden virus replication may be occurring within the body’s tissue, despite undetectable virus levels in the ...

Biosensor That Detects Antibiotic Resistance Brings Us One Step Closer to Fighting Superbugs

05/08/2013
On May 8th JoVE will publish research that demonstrates how a biosensor can detect antibiotic resistance in bacteria. This new technology is a preliminary step in identifying and fighting superbugs, a major public health concern that has led to more deaths than AIDS in the United States in recent years. ...

Taking out the defender

05/07/2013
The in vivo interaction between a Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm, on a silicone implant, and the responding polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Image: SEM imaging depicts the interaction at day 1 post insertion of the implant in the peritoneal cavity of a mouse. The leukocytes (yellow) are damaged with obvious cavities in the cell membrane ...

Lofted by hurricanes, bacteria live the high life

05/07/2013
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 affects everything from weather and climate ...

Pathogen turns protein into a virulence factor in one easy step

05/07/2013
To infect its host, the respiratory pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa takes an ordinary protein usually involved in making other proteins and adds three small molecules to turn it into a key for gaining access to human cells. In a study to be published May 7 in mBio, the online open-access journal ...

Genome Sequencing Provides Unprecedented Insight Into Causes of Pneumococcal Disease

05/07/2013
A new study led by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK has, for the first time, used genome sequencing technology to track the changes in a bacterial population following the introduction of a vaccine. The study follows how the ...
05/07/2013
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-depressants have been linked to an increase ...

To Defeat Bacteria, Researchers Think Like Bacteria

05/07/2013
A new approach to treating antibiotic-resistant infections has been developed by University of Wollongong (UOW) and University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) researchers who have patented the new technology and entered into commercialization discussions with two French pharmaceutical companies. Antibiotics have saved countless lives and alleviated human suffering for more than ...

Feeling Blue, Trypanosoma brucei

05/03/2013
Trypanosoma brucei, a protozoan parasite, is the causative agent of African sleeping sickness in humans (T. b. gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense) and nagana in cattle (T. b. brucei). These diseases result in much economic hardship and morbidity in Sub-Saharan Africa. The life cycle of these organisms requires an insect ...

Re-sensitizing Resistant Bacteria

05/03/2013
Researchers use a protein-lipid complex found in human breast milk to increase the activity of otherwise-ineffective antibiotics against drug-resistant pathogens. A protein-lipid complex that naturally occurs in human breast milk can increase the sensitivity of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other drug-resistant strains to multiple classes of antibiotics in animal ...

Malaria: A Vector Infecting Both Apes and Humans

05/03/2013
In 2010, a study revealed that the main agent of malaria in humans, called Plasmodium falciparum, arose from the gorilla. Today, the vector which transmitted the parasite from apes to humans has just been identified. A Franco-Gabonese research consortium has determined which species of anopheles mosquitoes transfer the disease to ...

Saudi Arabia Sars-like virus 'kills five'

05/02/2013
Five people in Saudi Arabia have died from a Sars-like virus and two more are seriously ill, officials say. The seven cases were all from al-Ahsa governorate in the east of the country, the Saudi news agency SPA said citing health officials. The novel coronavirus (NCoV) causes pneumonia and sometimes ...

Electron Beam Zaps Oysters to Kill Bacteria

05/02/2013
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 treatment or vaccine, and ...

Little Known Glomalin, a Key Protein in Soils

05/02/2013
If you had heard of glomalin, you are a better person than I am. Until a couple of months ago I wasn’t aware of its existence, which is close to sinful: it happens to be a very abundant protein in the soil rhizosphere, playing a key role in the soil’s ...

The Ins and Outs of Gut Bacteria

05/02/2013
Deep in the bowels of our, well, bowels, lurk trillions of microscopic bacteria. But don't be fooled by the big bad "B" word, intractably tied to infections and disease. In fact, these bitty bugs do us a world of good. "There's a certain 'ick' factor associated with gut bacteria," said Lita ...

Tricky Trichy

05/02/2013
Trichomonas vaginalis is a protozoan parasite of the urogenital tract in men and women and causes a sexually transmitted disease, trichomoniasis, in about half of infected women. Infections are associated with pelvic inflammatory disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes, infertility, an increased incidence of aggressive prostate cancers, and an increase in HIV-1 ...

Ground Turkey Study Finds More Than Half Of Samples Contaminated With Fecal Bacteria

05/01/2013
More than half of ground turkey samples are contaminated with fecal bacteria, according to a new study from Consumer Reports. In addition, the magazine found that more than 90 percent of the ground turkey samples it tested contained at least one of the five bacteria the test was looking for ...

Fighting the Impact of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

05/01/2013
The resistance of bacteria to antibiotics and similar drugs—called antimicrobials—is considered a major public health threat by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its counterparts around the world. Antibiotics have transformed health care since they were introduced in the 1940s and have been widely used to fight bacterial infections. These ...
05/01/2013
A research project at Indiana State University into a popular packaged drink has found five types of fungus. Kathleen Dannelly, associate professor microbiology, said one previous study published online found only one fungus in Capri Sun, the popular drink manufactured by Kraft. However, the research in Dannelly's lab found five ...

Dangerous Rendezvous

04/30/2013
A macrophage (pale brown) interacts with Borrelia cells (blue), the spirochete bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Although the outer membrane of Borrelia contains a strong antigen, the OspC protein, the bacterium successfully evades the human immune system by hiding out in places less accessible to immune cells, such as the ...

Gene therapy: 'Heart-healing virus' trial starts

04/30/2013
Patients in the UK have been enrolled into a trial to see if an engineered virus can be used to heal their damaged and struggling hearts. The trial will use a virus to introduce genetic material into heart muscle to reverse the organ's decline. The British Heart Foundation said the ...

The Art of Microbial Alchemy

04/30/2013
In 2001, Kashefi and collaborators published an article in Applied and Environmental Microbiology reporting the surprising finding that several iron-reducing microbes can use gold as an electron acceptor for their respiration. These microbial alchemists included both mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria as well as hyperthermophilic archaea. The beauty of this process ...

Bacteria help trace how alcohol binds to brain

04/30/2013
Bacteria that grows only on rocks in the Swiss Alps has helped researchers identify how alcohol might affect key brain proteins. “Now that we’ve identified this key brain protein and understand its structure, it’s possible to imagine developing a drug that could block the binding site,” says Adron Harris, professor of ...

Thymus Teaches Immune Cells to Ignore Vital Gut Bacteria

04/30/2013
The tiny thymus teaches the immune system to ignore the teeming, foreign bacteria in the gut that helps you digest and absorb food, researchers say. When immune cells recognize essential gut bacteria as foreign, inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease can be the painful, debilitating result. In a ...

Study describes pump mechanism that enables bacteria to evade antibiotic attack

04/26/2013
Researchers have uncovered details of a mechanism that bacteria use to avoid the effects of antibiotics, which could pave the way for developing new drugs to counteract antibiotic resistance. The discovery, from researchers at Durham University and the University of Birmingham, gives the first clear insight into how molecular pumps in ...

The microbes you inhale on the New York City subway

04/26/2013
The microbial population in the air of the New York City subway system is nearly identical to that of ambient air on the city streets. This research, published ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, establishes an important baseline, should it become necessary to monitor the subway's ...

Genomics distinguishes harmful from harmless freshwater bacteria

04/25/2013
The common waterborne bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila has increasingly been implicated in serious human infections. By correlating clinical and experimental findings with genome sequencing data, scientists have found key factors that distinguish bacteria that can cause necrotizing skin infections ("flesh-eating bacteria") from other bacteria commonly found in freshwater sources. Joshua Shak, an ...

Thanks to Rare Alpine Bacteria, Researchers Identify One of Alcohol’s Key Gateways to the Brain

04/25/2013
Thanks to a rare bacteria that grows only on rocks in the Swiss Alps, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the Pasteur Institute in France have been the first to identify how alcohol might affect key brain proteins. It’s a major step on the road to eventually developing ...

Eggs, Too, May Provoke Bacteria to Raise Heart Risk

04/25/2013
For the second time in a matter of weeks, a group of researchers reported a link between the food people eat and bacteria in the intestines that can increase the risk of heart attacks. Two weeks ago, the investigators reported that carnitine, a compound found in red meat, can increase heart ...

A Good Defense Is Worth Stealing

04/25/2013
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 phages ...

WHO: H7N9 virus 'one of the most lethal so far'

04/24/2013
As the death toll from China's bird flu outbreak rose to 22 with news of another victim in eastern Zhejiang Province, the World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was one of the most lethal that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years. "This is an unusually dangerous virus ...

Iron in Primeval Seas Rusted by Bacteria

04/24/2013
Researchers from the University of Tübingen have been able to show for the first time how microorganisms contributed to the formation of the world's biggest iron ore deposits. The biggest known deposits -- in South Africa and Australia -- are geological formations billions of years old. They are mainly composed ...

Is There Evidence of a Supernova in the Fossils of Ancient Bacteria?

04/24/2013
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 ...

Battling With Bugs to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance

04/24/2013
New scientific research published today in the journal PLoS Biology shows that bacteria can evolve resistance more quickly when stronger antibiotics are used. Researchers from the University of Exeter and Kiel University in Germany treated E. coli with different combinations of antibiotics in laboratory experiments. Unexpectedly they found that the rate of ...

H7N9 is a virus worth worrying about

04/24/2013
Warnings about the emergence of another influenza virus may elicit scepticism, but we should not be complacent, cautions Peter Horby. Once again an animal influenza A virus has crossed the species barrier to cause an appreciable number of human cases. Now, two months after the first known human infections with the ...

Holy Virus Treasure Trove, Batman!

04/23/2013
Think about the type of animal that would make an ideal host for a virus. It would gather in large dense groups, making it easier for the virus to jump into fresh hosts. It should have a relatively long lifespan, so any single individual has many chances of becoming infected. ...

Contact killing of Salmonella by human faecal bacteria

04/23/2013
Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, numbering more than the cells in the rest of our body, and these bacteria help us to digest our food, absorb nutrients and strengthen our immune system. This complex bacterial ecosystem, called the gut microbiota, also helps to prevent bad bacteria from ...

Radioactive bacteria attack cancer

04/23/2013
Two dangerous things together might make a medicine for one of the hardest cancers to treat. In a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, researchers have shown that bacteria can deliver deadly radiation to tumours — exploiting the immune suppression that normally makes the disease so intractable. Fewer than one in 25 ...

Gut Microbe Makes Diesel Biofuel

04/23/2013
Reconfiguring the genetics of the food pathogen E. coli produces hydrocarbons indistinguishable from those burned in trucks. Welding bits and pieces from various microbes and the camphor tree into the genetic code of Escherichia coli has allowed scientists to convince the stomach bug to produce hydrocarbons, rather than sickness ...

E. coli Cells Face FACS and Get Back into Shape

04/22/2013
There’s no question that variation in size and shape has conferred selective advantages over the course of evolutionary time. One of the most obvious examples is the long neck and legs of the giraffe, which allow it to snatch foliage that is unreachable by vertically challenged competitors. The variable beak ...

New study shows how Salmonella colonises the gut

04/22/2013
Salmonella is a major cause of human diarrhoeal infections and is frequently acquired from chickens, pigs and cattle, or their products. Around 94 million such infections occur in people worldwide each year, with approximately 50,000 cases in the UK per annum. In a BBSRC-funded collaboration between the University of Cambridge's Department ...

High-powered microscopic techniques give scientists detailed view of a critical component of cellular infrastructure

04/22/2013
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 microtubules to intracellular structures. A research team led by ...

Genital Wart Rate in Young Women Plummets Thanks to HPV Vaccine, Claim Researchers

04/22/2013
The proportion of young women diagnosed with genital warts in Australia has seen a significant decline thanks to the HPV vaccine, suggests a new paper. In 2007, Australia became one of the first countries to implement a nationally funded quadrivalent human papillomarivus (HPV) vaccination programme for girls and young women, ...

Quest for Edible Malarial Vaccine Leads to Other Potential Medical Uses for Algae

04/19/2013
Can scientists rid malaria from the Third World by simply feeding algae genetically engineered with a vaccine? That’s the question biologists at UC San Diego sought to answer after they demonstrated last May that algae can be engineered to produce a vaccine that blocks malaria transmission. In a follow up study, ...

H7N9 Bird Flu: Could Animals Other than Birds Harbor the Virus?

04/19/2013
Researchers have more questions than answers about the latest bird flu circulating in China, including whether birds are the only reservoir for the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 17 people in China have died of H7N9 infection, and there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission of the flu ...

IDRI and Medicago Report Positive Results for Phase I Clinical Trial for an H5N1 Vaccine

04/19/2013
IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute), a Seattle-based non-profit research organization that is a leading developer of adjuvants used in vaccines combating infectious disease, and Medicago Inc. (TSX: MDG; OTCQX: MDCGF), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing highly effective and competitive vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), ...

From blank round to a potently active substance?

04/19/2013
A long-forgotten candidate for antiviral therapy is undergoing a renaissance: Since the 1970s, the small molecule CMA has been considered a potent agent against viral infections, yet it was never approved for clinical use. Scientists at the Bonn University Hospital have now deciphered how the molecule can actually stimulate the ...

'Chink in the Armor' of Schmallenberg Virus Identified

04/18/2013
A key building block in the Schmallenberg virus could be targeted by anti-viral drugs, according to a new study led from the University of Leeds. The disease, which causes birth defects and stillbirths in sheep, goats and cattle, was first discovered in Germany in late 2011 and has already spread ...

A Roller Derby of Bacteria

04/18/2013
A roller derby tournament seems like a brutal research environment: women crash around a rink in short skirts and skates, slamming their shoulders into members of the opposing team so that their own team’s “jammer” can lap them and score. But it’s perfect for researchers investigating how, through skin-to-skin contact, ...

Pictures Considered #3. How Do You Know There Is a Nucleoid?

04/18/2013
What is more commonplace than saying that prokaryotic cells possess a nucleoid? It is implicit in the term prokaryote itself. Still, it was not shown definitively until the 1940s that bacteria and archaea have such differentiated structures made up of condensed DNA. It was the careful work of “bacterial cytologists” ...

Epidemiological Endgame: Is Polio on the Brink of Eradication?

04/18/2013
Despite the pointless political assassinations of vaccine workers or the police officers who guard them in a few deeply troubled areas, enough progress has been made against polio in the past year that health experts are now planning for the grand finale—its complete eradication by 2018. The official to-do list ...

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found in Sharks and Seals

04/17/2013
Bacteria, viruses and parasites from land animals such as cats, cows and humans are sickening and killing sea mammals. Scientists have been finding a daunting number of land-based pathogens in seals, dolphins, sharks and other ocean dwellers that wash ashore dead or dying, according to an article by Christopher Solomon ...

Supernova left its mark in ancient bacteria

04/17/2013
Radioactive iron may be first fossil imprint of a nearby cosmic explosion. Sediment in a deep-sea core may hold radioactive iron spewed by a distant supernova 2.2 million years ago and preserved in the fossilized remains of iron-loving bacteria. If confirmed, the iron traces would be the first biological signature ...

In-package plasma process quickly, effectively kills bacteria

04/17/2013
Exposing packaged liquids, fruits and vegetables to an electrical field for just minutes might eliminate all traces of foodborne pathogens on those foods, according to a Purdue University study. Kevin Keener, a professor of food science, looks for new ways to kill harmful bacteria, such as E.coli and Salmonella, that contaminate ...

Ricin: What is it?

04/17/2013
Some facts about the toxin that was found in a letter addressed to US senator Roger Wicker. Government officials in Washington have shut down mail delivery to the US Senate after detecting ricin in a letter addressed to Mississippi senator Roger Wicker, a Republican, on 16 April. Here are some ...

Parents Tend to Share More Bacteria With Family Dogs Than Children

04/17/2013
As much as dog owners love their children, they tend to share more of themselves, at least in terms of bacteria, with their canine cohorts rather than their kids. That is just one finding of a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder that looked at the types and ...

H7N9 Avian Influenza: Virus Widens Geographic Reach in China

04/16/2013
Officials in Beijing confirmed today that a 7-year-old girl is infected with H7N9 avian influenza, widening the geographic spread of the virus that's already killed 11 people. The girl, whose parents sell live poultry, was admitted to the hospital Thursday with pneumonia and is the first case reported outside eastern China, ...

Mouse hepatitis virus may help end chimp research

04/16/2013
A newly discovered rodent virus that resembles hepatitis C could give research chimps a break. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is expected to make a decision imminently on how many of its 360 research chimps should be retired on the grounds that most studies can be done in other ...

Scripps Research Institute Scientists Find Interferon, One of the Body’s Own Proteins, Induces Persistent Viral Infection

04/16/2013
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made a counterintuitive finding that may lead to new ways to clear persistent infection that is the hallmark of such diseases as AIDS, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The study, reported in the April 12, 2013 issue of the journal Science, focused on ...

Haiti cholera mutations could lead to more severe disease

04/16/2013
The cholera strain that transferred to Haiti in 2010 has multiple toxin gene mutations that may account for the severity of disease and is evolving to be more like an 1800s version of cholera, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. The strain, "altered El Tor," which emerged around 2000, is known ...

Secrets of bacterial slime revealed

04/16/2013
Newcastle University scientists have revealed the mechanism that causes a slime to form, making bacteria hard to shift and resistant to antibiotics. When under threat, some bacteria can shield themselves in a slimy protective layer, known as a biofilm. It is made up of communities of bacteria held together to protect ...

Circumcision alters penis microbiome, could explain HIV protection (press release)

04/16/2013
Circumcision drastically alters the microbiome of the penis, changes that could explain why circumcision offers protection against HIV and other viral infections. In a study to be published on April 16 in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, researchers studied the effects of adult male ...

Nanoparticle Disguised as a Blood Cell Fights Bacterial Infection

04/15/2013
A nanoparticle wrapped in a red blood cell membrane can remove toxins from the body and could be used to fight bacterial infections, according to research published today in Nature Nanotechnology. The results demonstrate that the nanoparticles could be used to neutralize toxins produced by many bacteria, including some that are ...

Hilary Koprowski, virologist who developed a polio vaccine, dies at 96

04/15/2013
Hilary Koprowski, a pioneering virologist who was credited with developing the first successful oral vaccination for polio, died April 11 at his home in Wynnewood, Pa. He was 96.

China Bird-Flu Deaths Rise to 13 as H7N9 Virus Spreads

04/15/2013
Beijing confirmed that a 7-year-old girl has H7N9 avian influenza and Henan province reported its first two cases, opening a new front in the spread of the virus in the world’s most populous nation. Shanghai said today two people infected with the strain of bird flu died, taking the country’s ...

Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

04/15/2013
I suppose that most microbiologists and the readers of this blog would split the answer down the middle, the biomass of this planet and the chemical transactions therein being about half microbial, half everything else. However, it’s safe to say that most people, many scientists included, are unaware of the ...

Harmful Algal Blooms - Microcystis ehrenbergii

04/12/2013
You may notice a green, red or brown film on your favorite boating or swimming area in the summer. This coloring could mean that the water is affected by harmful algal blooms. Harmful algal blooms are an accumulation of tiny organisms known as algae and can release harmful toxins into ...

Killer fungus strikes huge Alabama bat cave

04/12/2013
White-nose syndrome has invaded Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge, home to more than 1 million endangered gray bats and other vulnerable species. The world's largest wintering colony of gray bats may be under attack from white-nose syndrome, federal wildlife authorities reported Monday, potentially spelling doom for the already-endangered species. More than ...

Clinging to crevices, E. coli thrive

04/12/2013
Harvard research reveals the role of the flagellum in helping biofilms colonize rough surfaces. New research from Harvard University helps to explain how waterborne bacteria can colonize rough surfaces—even those that have been designed to resist water. A team of materials scientists and microbiologists studied the gut bacterium Escherichia coli, ...

Nanocellulose Algae: The 'Super Material' Of The Future Will Be Cheap, Strong And Organic

04/12/2013
Imagine a substance that was strong and light enough to armour soldiers, flexible and conductive enough to be turned into the next generation of flexible smartphone screens - and even absorbent enough to make tampons more effective. Now imagine the process for making this wonder material was cheap, fast and involved ...

A molecular “superglue” based on flesh-eating bacteria

04/12/2013
In a classic case of turning an enemy into a friend, scientists have engineered a protein from flesh-eating bacteria to act as a molecular “superglue” that promises to become a disease fighter. And their latest results, which make the technology more versatile, were the topic of a report here today ...

The life cycle of the malaria parasite (animation)

04/11/2013
View an interactive animation of the life cycle of the malaria parasite, of the genus Plasmodium. The lifecycle of the malaria parasite is split between female mosquitoes and humans. In the mosquito gut, the parasites complete sexual reproduction and then multiply rapidly to produce many more parasites. The human ...

Tuberculosis fighter and promoter reveals what’s behind its split identity

04/11/2013
Tumor necrosis factor – normally an infection-fighting substance produced by the body – can actually heighten susceptibility to tuberculosis if its levels are too high. University of Washington TB researchers unravel this conundrum in a report this week in Cell. Their study shows how excess production of this disease-cell destroyer ...

Some Types of Papilloma Virus Might Prevent Cervical Cancer

04/11/2013
Certain types of papilloma virus might actually prevent cervical cancer, according to a new study by researchers from The University of Manchester. There are over 100 different types of human papilloma virus (HPV). Cervical cancer is known to be caused by infection with approximately 14 so-called "high-risk" types of this ...

Fox Chase Researchers Find Some Lung Cancers Linked to Common Virus

04/11/2013
Nearly 6% of lung cancer tissue samples from non-smokers show signs that HPV may have triggered the tumors. A common virus known to cause cervical and head and neck cancers may also trigger some cases of lung cancer, according to new research presented by Fox Chase Cancer Center at ...

Bacteria armed with toxic tips kill rivals

04/11/2013
A mysterious type of protein found in bacteria and other organisms, including humans, appears to act as a delivery system for toxins. While these proteins, called rearrangement hotspots (Rhs), have been recognized for more 30 years, their function has been enigmatic. A research team at the University of California, Santa Barbara, ...

A Wild Bet: Can inoculating newborns with innocuous strains of bacteria save them from deadly ones?

04/11/2013
Recently, one of Paul Cezanne’s missing paintings was rediscovered. The painting shows Paulin Paulet, a gardener on Cezanne’s family estate, looking at his poker cards. Cezanne painted Paulet as part of a series of paintings between 1890 and 1896. This particular painting is called A Card Player. It had not ...

ID deadly pathogens without growing bacteria

04/11/2013
Metagenomics has allowed researchers to reconstruct the genome sequence of a deadly Shiga-toxigenic E. coli outbreak without having to grow bacteria in the lab. “The outbreak of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli illustrated the effects of a bacterial epidemic on a wealthy, modern, industrialized society, with more than 3,000 cases and more than ...

Giardia protozoan

04/10/2013
This digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted the dorsal (upper) surface of a Giardia protozoan that had been isolated from a rat’s intestine. Some of the identifying morphologic characteristics include pairs of thread-like flagella that facilitate motility, and a ventolateral flange that appears as a “ruffle” around the anterior portion ...

Blockade of Pathogen's Metabolism

04/10/2013
In the search for new antibiotics, researchers are taking an unusual approach: They are developing peptides, short chains of protein building blocks that effectively inhibit a key enzyme of bacterial metabolism. Now, scientists at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) in Saarbrücken, a branch of the Helmholtz Center ...

Archaeons shown to thrive on fireworks ingredient

04/10/2013
A new study in the Netherlands has found a deep-sea microbe living in high-temperature hydro-thermal vents can thrive on chlorate and perchlorate anions. Perchlorate, an ingredient in rocket fuel and fireworks, is toxic to most organisms. The researchers, led by Martin Liebensteiner of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, have shown for ...

Dissolvable Electronics Demonstrate Effectiveness in Bacteria Fighting Implant

04/10/2013
Following up on our coverage of the work of John Rogers, who is leading efforts at University of Illinois to develop flexible and bioresorbable electronic systems, there’s news now of new findings evaluating such implants in animal models. Presented at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society ...

Better Monitoring and Diagnostics Tackle Algae Biofuel Pond Crash Problem

04/10/2013
Sandia National Laboratories is developing a suite of complementary technologies to help the emerging algae industry detect and quickly recover from algal pond crashes, an obstacle to large-scale algae cultivation for future biofuels. The research, which focuses on monitoring and diagnosing algal pond health, draws upon Sandia's longstanding expertise in ...

Shingles Vaccine Is Associated With Reduction in Both Postherpetic Neuralgia and Herpes Zoster

04/10/2013
Shingles vaccine is associated with reduction in both postherpetic neuralgia and herpes zoster, but uptake in the US is low. A vaccine to prevent shingles may reduce by half the occurrence of this painful skin and nerve infection in older people (aged over 65 years) and may also reduce the ...

Bacteria biofilm

04/09/2013
This confocal micrograph, taken as part of a synthetic biology project, shows Bacillus subtilis, a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in soil. Distinct lineages of bacteria expressing different fluorescent proteins were initially mixed randomly on a petri dish. As the bacteria grow, they organise themselves into reproducible patterns ...

Avian Virus May Be Harmful to Cancer Cells

04/09/2013
A study at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has identified a chicken-killing virus as a promising treatment for prostate cancer in humans. Researchers have discovered that a genetically engineered Newcastle disease virus, which harms chickens but not humans, kills prostate cancer cells of all kinds, including hormone-resistant cancer cells. ...

Research Advances Therapy to Protect Against Dengue Virus

04/09/2013
Nearly half of the world's population is at risk of infection by the dengue virus, yet there is no specific treatment for the disease. Now a therapy to protect people from the virus could finally be a step closer, thanks to a team at MIT. In a paper published today in ...

Natural Soil Bacteria Pump New Life Into Exhausted Oil Wells

04/09/2013
Technology that enlists natural soil bacteria as 21st century roughnecks now is commercially available and poised to recover precious oil remaining in thousands of exhausted oil wells, according to a scientist who spoke in New Orleans on April 8. His report on a process termed microbially enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) ...
04/09/2013
Researchers suspect H7N9 virus is in bird markets as human cases rise rapidly. Virologists know its name: H7N9. What they don’t yet know is whether this novel avian influenza virus — first reported in humans in China less than two weeks ago — will rapidly fizzle out, become established in ...

Copper Surfaces Reduce the Rate of Healthcare-Acquired Infections in the ICU

04/09/2013
Placement of copper objects in intensive care unit (ICU) hospital rooms reduced the number of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) in patients by more than half, according to a new study published in the May issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, in a special topic issue focused on the role of ...

Wild Mice Have Natural Protection Against Lyme Borreliosis

04/08/2013
Like humans, mice can become infected with Borrelia. However, not all mice that come into contact with these bacteria contract the dreaded Lyme disease: Animals with a particular gene variant are immune to the bacteria, as scientists from the universities of Zurich and Lund demonstrate. Wild mice are the primary ...

Delivering a Virus that Gets Rid of House Flies

04/08/2013
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have found an effective method to infect house flies with a virus that stops the flies from reproducing. House flies can transmit hundreds of animal and human pathogens like Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Shigella bacteria, which cause foodborne illnesses. Insecticides are used to help control ...

Red meat + wrong bacteria = bad news for hearts

04/08/2013
Microbes turn nutrient in beef into an artery-clogging menace. Lean steak is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein — qualities normally considered healthy. But eating a lot of it can still cause heart disease. Researchers have now laid the blame on bacteria in the human gut that ...

NIH Scientists Develop Monkey Model to Study Novel Coronavirus Infection

04/05/2013
National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers have developed a model of infection in rhesus macaques that will help scientists around the world better understand how an emerging coronavirus, first identified in September 2012, affects people. The virus has so far infected at least 17 people in the Middle East and ...

Loyola Researchers to Determine if Certain Bacteria Cause Overactive Bladder Symptoms

04/05/2013
Thousands of women suffer from overactive bladder (OAB) or the sudden need to urinate, yet many don’t get relief from medication. Researchers at Loyola University Health System believe certain bacteria may be to blame. Loyola has launched a clinical trial to determine if the bacteria present in the urine of women ...

Hepatitis A Virus Discovered To Cloak Itself In Membranes Hijacked From Infected Cells

04/05/2013
Viruses have historically been classified into one of two types – those with an outer lipid-containing envelope and those without an envelope. For the first time, researchers at the University of North Carolina have discovered that hepatitis A virus, a common cause of enterically-transmitted hepatitis, takes on characteristics of both ...

A promising and difficult plan to end polio

04/05/2013
THE WORLD witnessed only 223 polio cases last year, the lowest level in history and an impressive advance from the hundreds of thousands of children afflicted as recently as the 1980s. However, the eradication quest is not over, and the next steps look difficult. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, an ...

How antibodies zap a mosquito-borne virus

04/04/2013
Seeing the mosquito-transmitted chikungunya virus pathogen at very high resolution while it’s bound to antibodies could lead to vaccines for the disease. The infection causes symptoms similar to dengue fever, followed by a prolonged disease that affects the joints and causes severe arthritis. In recent outbreaks, some cases progressed to ...

Weapons by Which Bacteria Fight Each Other Revealed: Could Lead to New Antibacterial Drugs

04/04/2013
A new study which was performed jointly at Umeå university and the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, discovered that bacteria can degrade the cell membrane of bacterial competitors with enzymes that do not harm their own membrane. This exciting finding opens the way for the development of new antibacterial ...

Scientists charged with trying to export bacteria

04/04/2013
Two former Canadian Food Inspection Agency researchers face charges for trying to take 17 vials of pathogens out of the country. Klaus Nielsen, a world-leading researcher in brucella infection, and fellow researcher Wei Ling Yu have been charged with breach of trust by a public officer after what the RCMP called ...

Chicken pox vaccine effective over long term, Kaiser study finds

04/04/2013
Once upon a time, not too terribly long ago, getting the chicken pox was practically a rite of passage for kids. But now, nearly 20 years after approval of a vaccine for the varicella virus, which causes the itchy illness, chicken pox is a rarity. A new study conducted by researchers ...

Microbes or Not, Parasites All

04/04/2013
Parasites pose a problem for the semantically-oriented microbiologist. There is no question that unicellular parasites such as Giardia, Plasmodium, or Toxoplasma are microbes, thus we can appropriate them with impunity. But what about parasitic worms? They are clearly not microscopic* and are taxonomically apart from parasitic protist. Yet parasitic protists ...

WHO: Frequently Asked Questions on human infection with influenza A(H7N9) virus, China

04/04/2013
What is the influenza A(H7N9) virus? Influenza A H7 viruses are a group of influenza viruses that normally circulate among birds. The influenza A(H7N9) virus is one subgroup among the larger group of H7 viruses. Although some H7 viruses (H7N2, H7N3 and H7N7) have occasionally been found to infect humans, no ...

Human Infection With Influenza A(H7N9) in China

04/04/2013
On 3 April 2013, the China Health and Family Planning Commission notified WHO of an additional four cases of human infection with influenza A(H7N9). The four patients are from Jiangsu province in eastern China. There is no link between the cases. The patients include a 45-year-old woman with illness onset on ...

Tiny Octopus-Like Microorganisms Named After Science Fiction Monsters

04/03/2013
University of British Columbia researchers have discovered two new symbionts living in the gut of termites, and taken the unusual step of naming them after fictional monsters created by American horror author HP Lovecraft. The single-cell protists, Cthulhu macrofasciculumque and Cthylla microfasciculumque, help termites digest wood. The researchers decided to name ...

Scientists Build Hollow Virus For Cheaper Vaccines

04/02/2013
Call it hollow-hearted. Researchers have built a mimic of the outer capsule of the foot-and-mouth disease virus. Inside, where the virus' genetic material normally lives, is empty. Such synthetic virus-like particles could go into a foot-and-mouth vaccine that's cheaper to make because it doesn't require the tight biosecurity that a ...

Nanoparticles formed using human viruses, to fight human viruses

04/02/2013
Biology and nanotechnology are moving ever closer together. Ars recently wrote about the use of nanoparticles to aid delivery of stem cells in cardiac therapy. Now, Swiss researchers have developed nanoparticles that can detect, and one day could combat, viruses. When viruses enter the human body, the immune system responds to ...

Researchers First to Use Common Virus to 'Fortify' Adult Stem Cells

04/02/2013
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 healing abilities. "Basically, ...

D.C. Rolls Out New HIV Test That Could Increase Chance of Cure

04/02/2013
The recent news about a baby in Mississippi and 14 French adults said to have been "cured" of HIV infection has fueled excitement that the end of HIV/AIDS could be within sight. Both situations raise more questions than they currently answer. Although no one can say we now have "the" cure ...

Bacteriophages offer a way to fight resistant bacteria, but their use still awaits approval in the U.S.

04/02/2013
An alternative treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections that are raising concern nationwide already exists. But there's a big problem. The treatment is not approved for use in the United States. And it could be a decade or more for the treatment, long used in Russia, former Soviet nations, Eastern Europe and more ...

Bioluminescent bacteria in squid controls host's daily rhythms

04/02/2013
The squid has fascinated microbiologists for years because of its harmonious relationship with just one bacteria -- Vibrio fischeri. The bacteria does not express light when it is freely roaming in the ocean, but when housed in the squid's light organ (located in its underbelly) it will work with the ...

Get healthy... embrace the germ

04/01/2013
A growing body of evidence suggests that all the antibacterial-wiping, germ-killing cleanliness of the developed world may actually be making us more prone to getting sick — and that a little more dirt might help us stay healthier in the long run. The idea, known as the hygiene hypothesis, was first ...

E. Coli Bacteria Addicted to Caffeine: Keep that Away from My Coffee!

04/01/2013
Good morning, everyone! Are you ready for that first cup of coffee? Apparently a strain of bacteria is, too. Researchers have engineered E. Coli bacteria that are "addicted" to caffeine. Why? That's a very good question. The latest creation is not a new idea. Researchers have been engineering organisms for ...

Research deciphers HIV attack plan

04/01/2013
LOS ALAMOS, N. M., March 29, 2013—A new study by Los Alamos National Laboratory and University of Pennsylvania scientists defines previously unknown properties of transmitted HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. The viruses that successfully pass from a chronically infected person to a new individual are both remarkably resistant to ...

2 dead in China from unusual bird flu strain

04/01/2013
Hong Kong (CNN) -- Two people in China have died and another remains critical after falling ill with a strain of bird flu not detected before in humans, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. Both of those who died, men aged 27 and 87, lived in Shanghai, while a ...

Gut bacteria may be key to weight loss

04/01/2013
Normally we shudder when we think of bacteria, but a new study reveals that some of these microorganisms may be able to help us lose weight. The study, published in the March 27 issue of Science Translational Medicine, showed that bacteria in the guts of mice changed after they had gastric ...

Valley Fever on rise in Southwest, CDC says

03/29/2013
A nasty fungal infection that can spread to the lungs or brain and cause lifetime symptoms is on the rise in the Southwestern U.S., federal health officials reported on Thursday. Cases of Valley Fever, known medically as coccidioidomycosis, have increased nearly 10-fold between 1998 and 2011, the Centers for Disease ...

Genetically Modified Bacteria Created By Dr. Ka-Yiu San Could Turn Waste Into Fuel

03/29/2013
Plant waste has long been seen as a possible source of sustainable biofuels, and new research out of Rice University could unlock some of the energy that scientists say lies waiting in organic material. According to materials provided by Rice, bioengineer Ka-Yiu San and his lab have developed a way to ...

Synchrotron yields 'safer' vaccine

03/28/2013
Producing vaccines against viral threats is a potentially hazardous business and that's why manufacturers have to operate strict controls to ensure that no pathogens escape. British scientists have developed a new method to create an entirely synthetic vaccine which doesn't rely on using live infectious virus, meaning it is much safer. What's ...

Interactive video: Synthetic viruses

03/28/2013
BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh explains how British scientists have used a new technique to develop a synthetic virus which heralds a major development in vaccines. Click "source" to view video.

SARS-Like Virus Kills Two More People in Germany and Britain

03/28/2013
The mysterious SARS-like virus that appears to be originating in the Middle East has claimed two more victims after people died from the infection in Germany and in Britain. Their deaths brings to 11 the number of fatalities attributed to the virus, and six others have been determined to have been ...

How Herpesvirus Invades Nervous System

03/28/2013
Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified a component of the herpesvirus that "hijacks" machinery inside human cells, allowing the virus to rapidly and successfully invade the nervous system upon initial exposure. Led by Gregory Smith, associate professor in immunology and microbiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, researchers found that viral ...

Short Courses for Long-Term Learning

03/28/2013
Good microbiologists question assumptions. How about the assumption that semesters are the best calendars for learning? What would happen if rather than taking four courses concurrently during a semester, students instead took those four courses successively, one at a time? This describes the Colorado College “block plan,” first implemented in ...

Schmallenberg virus: arrival in Scotland confirmed

03/27/2013
The first evidence of cases of the Schmallenberg virus (SBV) among livestock bred and raised in Scotland has been confirmed. Eight cows on the Barony Campus of Scotland's Rural College in Dumfries and Galloway have tested positive for SBV antibodies. It indicates exposure to the virus at some time last year.

Strange Biology Inspires the Best New Materials

03/27/2013
From the shiny, strong nacre that gives abalone shells an unbreakable, opaline sheen, to the goopy mix of proteins fired by a velvet worm that solidify and trap prey upon impact, nature is packed with inspiration for scientists designing new materials. Waterproof adhesives and self-cleaning surfaces, mineralized teeth and hairy insect ...

H5N1 viral-engineering dangers will not go away

03/27/2013
Governments, funders and regulatory authorities must urgently address the risks posed by gain-of-function research, says Simon Wain-Hobson. Barely two months after a small group of influenza virologists lifted a moratorium on work to make the H5N1 avian flu virus as transmissible between humans as seasonal flu, researchers are at ...

Cedars-Sinai study: Obesity may be linked to microorganisms living in the gut

03/26/2013
How much a person eats may be only one of many factors that determines weight gain. A recent Cedars-Sinai study suggests that a breath test profile of microorganisms inhabiting the gut may be able to tell doctors how susceptible a person is to developing obesity. The study, published online Thursday by ...

Could Herpes Virus Affect Memory in Older Adults?

03/26/2013
Older adults who harbor certain infections, such as the herpes cold sore virus, may have poorer thinking and memory abilities than their peers, a new study suggests. Researchers found that of more than 1,600 older adults, those with signs of chronic infection with herpes simplex and certain other viruses and bacteria ...

Bacteria power 'bio-battery' breakthrough

03/26/2013
Bacteria could soon be acting as microscopic "bio-batteries" thanks to a joint UK-US research effort. The team of scientists has laid bare the power-generating mechanism used by well-known marine bacteria. Before now it was not clear whether the bacteria directly conducted an electrical charge themselves or used something else to do it. Unpicking ...

A Day in the Life: Eavesdropping on Marine Picoplankton

03/25/2013
Observing microbes in nature is a challenge. Compared to what goes on in the lab, there is not much one can do with them out there. So, instead of bringing the bacteria to the lab, why not bring the lab to the bacteria? Imagine being able to capture the expression ...

Sequencing tracks animal-to-human transmission of bacterial pathogens

03/25/2013
Researchers have used whole genome sequencing to reveal if drug-resistant bacteria are transmitted from animals to humans in two disease outbreaks that occurred on different farms in Denmark. The results, which are published today in EMBO Molecular Medicine, confirm animal-to-human transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a disease-causing bacterium that ...

Scientists Reveal Quirky Feature of Lyme Disease Bacteria

03/22/2013
Unlike most organisms, they don't need iron, but they crave manganese. Scientists have confirmed that the pathogen that causes Lyme Disease—unlike any other known organism—can exist without iron, a metal that all other life needs to make proteins and enzymes. Instead of iron, the bacteria substitute manganese to make an ...

Bacterial byproduct offers route to avoiding antibiotic resistance

03/22/2013
As public health officials sound the alarm about the global spread of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers are working to develop more effective antibiotics to counter this dangerous trend. Now, results from a team including a Princeton University scientist offer a possible solution that uses the bacteria's own byproducts to destroy them. In ...

Biodiversity doesn’t lower disease risk for people

03/22/2013
A new analysis pokes holes in a widely accepted theory that connects biodiversity abundance with a reduced disease risk for people. More than three quarters of new, emerging, or re-emerging human diseases are caused by pathogens from animals. The dilution effect—considered to be one of the most important ideas ...

A viral grappling hook: Flu virus attacks like a pirate boarding party

03/21/2013
Viruses are biological pirates, invading cells and hijacking their machinery to reproduce and infect again. Research at Harvard Medical School is shedding new light on the battle line where viral and cell membranes meet, and the key role of a protein grappling hook with which the influenza virus commandeers its ...

Modified Cold Sore Virus Shrinks Melanoma Tumors, Amgen Says

03/21/2013
A genetically modified version of herpes simplex virus type 1, the same virus that causes cold sores, shrank tumors of the deadly skin cancer melanoma in a clinical trial, according to Amgen, which is developing the experimental cancer treatment. Patients in the trial were in the late stages of the disease, ...

Pictures Considered. The E. coli Chromosome Caught in the Act of Replicating

03/21/2013
We continue our series of images that have made a difference in microbiology. This one, published by John Cairns in 1963 has earned a most deserved place in textbooks and reviews. It shows a radioautograph of an intact E. coli chromosome in the act of replicating. From this image, Cairns ...

Scientists describe development of drug that could treat, prevent malaria and block mosquito transmission

03/21/2013
Drug successfully tested in mice; may be major advance as malaria has developed resistance to existing treatments Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland VA Medical Center have developed a drug that may represent one of the world's best hopes for treating and preventing malaria — a disease ...

Bacteria with vuvuzelas: Microbes use a channel protein as a syringe for toxins

03/21/2013
The bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens is a constant companion of some roundworms. These worms assault insect larvae, thereby infecting them with the bacteria; the pathogens then attack the cells of their victims with a deadly cocktail of various toxins. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund working ...

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria called CRE small in number but seen as deadly threat

03/20/2013
Infections caused by carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae can be impossible to treat. A family of drug-resistant bacteria that experts say kills up to 50 percent of people infected is spreading in Chicago and elsewhere, prompting doctors and public health officials to step up efforts to protect patients. Infections caused by these germs ...

Discovery of first motor with revolution motion in a virus-killing bacteria advances nanotechnology (press release)

03/20/2013
Scientists have cracked a 35-year-old mystery about the workings of the natural motors that are serving as models for development of a futuristic genre of synthetic nanomotors that pump therapeutic DNA, RNA or drugs into individual diseased cells. Their report revealing the innermost mechanisms of these nanomotors in a bacteria-killing ...

Why red algae never colonized dry land

03/20/2013
The first red alga genome has just been sequenced by an international team coordinated by CNRS and UPMC at the Station Biologique de Roscoff (Brittany), notably involving researchers from CEA-Genoscope[1], the universities of Lille 1 and Rennes 1 and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle[2]. The genome of Chondrus crispus, also ...

When a Good Peptide Deformylase Gets Better

03/20/2013
When a phage invades a host’s premises, it delivers only its genome and perhaps a few specialized proteins needed immediately upon arrival. Its plan is simply to supervise production. The host is relied on to provide not only the raw materials and energy, but also the production equipment needed to ...

Science News For Kids: Deadly new virus emerges

03/20/2013
Over the past year, a viral infection has infected 15 people — killing nine. All lived in the Middle East or Britain. The novel germ doe not yet have a formal name. It causes pneumonia, a type of severe lung infection. On Feb. 27, scientists from around the world met ...

Long-term research: Slow science

03/20/2013
The world's longest-running experiments remind us that science is a marathon, not a sprint. Although science is a long-term pursuit, research is often practised over short timescales: a discrete experiment or a self-contained project constrained by the length of a funding cycle. But some investigations cannot be rushed. To study ...

Bacteria Thriving at World's Deepest Oceanic Trench

03/19/2013
Researchers have found microbes in the deepest oceanic trench on Earth - the Mariana Trench, which is located at nearly 7 miles or 11 kilometers below sea level in the western Pacific. The study of life in this inaccessible site revealed a community of bacteria that live in extreme pressures, which ...

Freiburg Biologists Study Unicellular Organisms that Occasionally Poison Themselves with a Toxin

03/19/2013
The cyanobacterium Synechocystis produces toxins that often lead to its own demise. The biologists Stefan Kopfmann and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hess from the University of Freiburg have determined the logic governing this mechanism. The cyanobacterium Synechocystis produces several toxins. However, most of the time they cannot become active because the ...

Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus among monogamous heterosexual couples: The HCV partners study

03/19/2013
The efficiency of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission by sexual activity remains controversial. We conducted a cross-sectional study of HCV-positive subjects and their partners to estimate the risk for HCV infection among monogamous heterosexual couples. A total of 500 anti–HCV-positive, human immunodeficiency virus–negative index subjects and their long-term heterosexual partners ...

More Parents Say They Won't Vaccinate Daughters Against HPV

03/18/2013
A rising percentage of parents say they won't have their teen daughters vaccinated to protect against the human papilloma virus, even though physicians are increasingly recommending adolescent vaccinations, a study by Mayo Clinic and others shows. More than 2 in 5 parents surveyed believe the HPV vaccine is unnecessary, and ...

This 17 Year-Old Built an Algae Biofuel Lab under Her Bed

03/18/2013
Sara Volz won the Intel Science Fair for her work on growing algae that's more efficient at making biofuels--and she does all her work in her bedroom. Every year, the Intel Science Talent Search honors brilliant high school students for their contributions to the worlds of math and science. Last year, ...

'Defective' virus surprisingly plays major role in spread of disease, UCLA life scientists report

03/01/2013
Defective viruses, thought for decades to be essentially garbage unrelated to the transmission of normal viruses, now appear able to play an important role in the spread of disease, new research by UCLA life scientists indicates. Defective viruses have genetic mutations or deletions that eliminate their essential viral functions. They ...

Superbugs May Have a Soft Spot, After All

02/28/2013
The overuse of antibiotics has created strains of bacteria resistant to medication, making the diseases they cause difficult to treat, or even deadly. But now a research team at the University of Rochester has identified a weakness in at least one superbug that scientists may be able to medically exploit.

The Virus That Learns

02/28/2013
If you don’t have an immune system, you don’t last long in this parasite-riddled world. Your body receives a steady stream of invaders–viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens–which it has to recognize and fight. In many cases, it’s a brutal battle with an ultimate goal of eradication. In other cases, the ...

New Method for Researching Understudied Malaria-Spreading Mosquitoes

02/28/2013
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute have developed a new method for studying the complex molecular workings of Anopheles albimanus, an important but less studied spreader of human malaria. An. albimanus carries Plasmodium vivax, the primary cause of malaria in humans in South America and regions outside of ...

Excess Membrane Synthesis Drives a Primitive Mode of Cell Proliferation

02/28/2013
The peptidoglycan cell wall is a hallmark of the bacterial subkingdom. Surprisingly, many modern bacteria retain the ability to switch into a wall-free state called the L-form. L-form proliferation is remarkable in being independent of the normally essential FtsZ-based division machinery and in occurring by membrane blebbing and tubulation. We ...

The pH of Activation of the Hemagglutinin Protein Regulates H5N1 Influenza Virus Replication and Pathogenesis in Mice

02/28/2013
After receptor binding and internalization during influenza virus entry, the hemagglutinin (HA) protein is triggered by low pH to undergo irreversible conformational changes that mediate membrane fusion. To investigate how mutations that alter the activation pH of the HA protein influence the fitness of an avian H5N1 influenza virus in ...

Sourdough Bacteria Pump Out Mold Killers

02/28/2013
As many San Franciscans have noticed, sourdough bread stays fresher longer than the regular stuff. Sourdough’s extended freshness is due to extra fermentation that traps more moisture in the dough. But now we know that sourdough’s longevity is also because it can ward off mold. Because bacteria in some sourdough ...

A Tale of Centenarians

02/26/2013
The year 2012 was quite turbulent in Italian politics but it ended with a display of near unanimity. The reason was the posthumous homage to the oldest senator of the Republic and the oldest Nobel Prize winner, Rita Levi-Montalcini. In Italy, the President has the privilege of personally naming up ...

The ideal of objectivity

02/26/2013
In trying to figure out what ethics ought to guide scientists in their activities, we’re really asking a question about what values scientists are committed to. Arguably, something that a scientist values may not be valued as much (if at all) by the average person in that scientist’s society. Objectivity is ...

Influenza study: Meet virus’ new enemy

02/22/2013
Simon Fraser University virologist Masahiro Niikura and his doctoral student Nicole Bance are among an international group of scientists that has discovered a new class of molecular compounds capable of killing the influenza virus. Working on the premise that too much of a good thing can be a killer, the ...

New Clues to Epstein-Barr Virus

02/22/2013
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) affects more than 90 percent of the population worldwide and was the first human virus found to be associated with cancer. Now, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have broadened the understanding of this widespread infection with their discovery of a second B-cell attachment receptor ...

‘Stressed’ Bacteria Become Resistant to Antibiotics

02/22/2013
Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics when stressed, finds research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. In particular E. coli grown at high temperatures become resistant to rifampicin. It is generally thought that antibiotic resistance is costly to maintain, for example mutations which reduce antibiotic uptake also restrict ...

Fast New Test Could Find Leprosy Before Damage Is Lasting

02/21/2013
A simple, fast and inexpensive new test for leprosy offers hope that, even in the poorest countries, victims can be found and cured before they become permanently disabled or disfigured like the shunned lepers of yore. American researchers developed the test, and Brazil’s drug-regulatory agency registered it last month. A Brazilian ...

A Passing Thought

02/21/2013
In the celebrated novel The Rebel Angels, the famed Canadian author Robertson Davies mentions Ozias Froats, a fictional professor potentially on his way to a Nobel Prize for discovering that everyone’s feces reflect the maker’s personality. He did not have today’s ready recourse to metagenomics (that being still in the ...

At $3 Million, New Award Gives Medical Researchers a Dose of Celebrity

02/20/2013
Eleven scientists, most of them American, were scheduled to be named on Wednesday as the first winners of the world’s richest academic prize for medicine and biology — $3 million each, more than twice the amount of the Nobel Prize. The award, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, was established by ...

Neuroscience: As the worm turns

02/20/2013
With the help of a tiny worm, Cornelia Bargmann is unpicking the neural circuits that drive eating, socializing and sex. Male sexual dysfunction is never pretty, even in nematodes. In normal roundworm courtship, a slender male will sidle up to a plump hermaphrodite, make contact, and then initiate a set ...

A sticky solution against beef bacteria

02/20/2013
Scientists are targeting disease-causing bacteria present on cows’ skin as an attempt to prevent them from contaminating beef meat, and from posing a threat to consumers’ health. If you can't kill them, trap them. Such is the fate that scientists are reserving to pathogenic bacteria, such as the infamous E. coli. ...

A Flurry of Frog Legs

02/19/2013
In the mid-1990s, people in the United States and Canada began to notice something grotesque. The frogs in their local ponds were sprouting extra legs. As news of the deformed frogs spread, the Minnesota state government set up a hot line for sightings, and soon they got hundreds of calls from ...

Australian research provides final clue for anti-malaria drug

02/19/2013
Researchers in Australia have provided the final piece of a puzzle to develop a new anti-malarial drug, which targets the parasite that causes the disease and kills it with a salt overdose. The drug, the first discovery in the fight against malaria in two decades, holds out fresh hope for conquering ...

Killer fungus spares West Africa’s frogs

02/19/2013
A suffocating fungus that threatens amphibians around the world has skipped over the diverse frog population in West Africa. Amphibians are one of the most threatened animal groups in the world; almost one third of all species are under acute threat. One of the main reasons for their decline is a ...

A solution to sinusitis from the sea

02/19/2013
A team of scientists and surgeons from Newcastle are developing a new nasal spray from a marine microbe to help clear chronic sinusitis. They are using an enzyme isolated from a marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis found on the surface of seaweed which the scientists at Newcastle University were originally researching ...

In pictures: bacteria grown from mobile phone imprints

02/19/2013
A team of molecular biology students at the University of Surrey has created a series of 'artworks' by imprinting mobile phones onto a layer of bacteriological growth media. Students in the undergraduate Practical and Biomedical Bacteriology class run by Simon Park were encouraged to imprint their mobile phones onto a petri ...

Diamond Sheds Light On Basic Building Blocks of Life

02/18/2013
The UK's national synchrotron facility, Diamond Light Source, is now the first and only place in Europe where pathogens requiring Containment Level 3 -- including serious viruses such as those responsible for AIDS, Hepatitis and some types of flu -- can be analysed at atomic and molecular level using synchrotron ...

International space station plays host to innovative infectious disease research (press release)

02/18/2013
Performing sensitive biological experiments is always a delicate affair. Few researchers, however, contend with the challenges faced by Cheryl Nickerson, whose working laboratory aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is located hundreds of miles above the Earth, traveling at some 17,000 miles per hour. Nickerson, a microbiologist at Arizona State University's ...

Fungi, fungi everywhere - New research shows fungi living beneath the seafloor are widespread

02/18/2013
Fungi living beneath the seafloor are widespread in ocean environments around the world, according to a new paper by scientists at the University of Delaware and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “They’re ubiquitous,” said co-author Jennifer Biddle, assistant professor of marine biosciences at UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “They ...

Bacterial Antidepressants: Avoiding Stationary Phase Stress

02/18/2013
High on the list of the exciting manners bacteria communicate with one another is quorum sensing (QS), a population-dependent gene regulation system that operates within a wide range of species. The general scheme of QS is as follows: at high population densities, signal molecules called autoinducers reach threshold levels, at ...

Ancient Teeth Bacteria Record Disease Evolution

02/18/2013
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 shifts as ...

UNC researchers discover gene that suppresses herpes viruses

02/15/2013
A research team led by Blossom Damania, PhD, found that suppressing the TLK enzyme causes the activation of the lytic cycle of both EBV and KSHV. During this active phase, these viruses begin to spread and replicate, and become vulnerable to anti-viral treatments. Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) ...

We are living in a bacterial world, and it's impacting us more than previously thought

02/15/2013
Throughout her career, the famous biologist Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) argued that the world of microorganisms has a much larger impact on the entire biosphere—the world of all living things—than scientists typically recognize. Now a team of scientists from universities around the world has collected and compiled the results of hundreds ...

Deadly bacteria attack not only us, but each other as well, with remarkable precision

02/15/2013
Vibrio cholerae, the scourge of nations lacking clean water. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the microbe that plagues people with cystic fibrosis. Acinetobacter species, opportunistic organisms that can infect vulnerable people. Escherichia coli, a culprit in food-borne illnesses. When these bacteria invade their human hosts, they can cause misery and death. But these pathogens ...

Tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus Hydatid Cyst

02/14/2013
Echinococcus granulosus is a tapeworm parasite that in its larval form can cause hydatid disease, which is characterized by cysts forming within the victim's body. In order to complete its lifecycle, the tapeworm must infect two hosts, a carnivore and a herbivore. The adult form of Echinococcus granulosus exists benignly in ...

The Secret Benefits of Germs

02/14/2013
We tend to believe -- and quite rightly so -- that germs are a detriment to our economy. The billions of dollars spent each year to treat infections can overburden the budget of any healthcare institution and the pocketbooks of anyone without appropriate health insurance. But pathogens only make up a ...

An invisible war rages in world's oceans

02/14/2013
The discovery of new viruses that appear to be spread around the world's oceans hints at a war waging between such viruses and their prey: an abundant group of bacteria. The bacteria, collectively known as SAR11, are the most abundant organisms known to inhabit seawater. "They are everywhere, from the surface down ...

Melamine Poisoning In China: Why Did Most Survive The Food Safety Scandal?

02/14/2013
Scientists wondering why some children and not others survived one of China's worst food safety scandals have uncovered a suspect: germs that live in the gut. In 2008, at least six babies died and 300,000 became sick after being fed infant formula that had been deliberately and illegally tainted with the ...

Mind-Altering Microbes: How the Microbiome Affects Brain and Behavior (video)

02/14/2013
Elaine Hsiao is a postdoctoral fellow in chemistry and biology at Caltech. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics from UCLA and her doctoral degree in neurobiology from Caltech with Professor Paul Patterson. She studied neuroimmune mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders and uncovered a ...

The Gender Bias of Science Faculty

02/14/2013
If you were a science professor, and you received two equally strong applications for the position of laboratory manager, one from a female, one from a male, which one would you pick? The answer may surprise you. It is well known that women are underrepresented in many fields of science. Whether ...

HIV particles infecting a human T cell

02/13/2013
Scanning electron micrograph of HIV particles infecting a human T cell. Credit: NIAID, NIH

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Surround Big Swine Farms — In China as Well as the U.S.

02/13/2013
I suspect we think of large-scale confinement agriculture as a uniquely American issue. Possibly that’s because growth-promoter antibiotic use, which makes meat-raising efficient, originated in the United States; more likely, it’s because some of the largest firms in that sector — Smithfield and Tyson, for example — are US-based. But ...

Virology: A marker for a cancer-causing virus

02/13/2013
Depending on the strain, or genotype, of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the lesions it causes can range from relatively benign to cancer-causing. Differentiating between lesions caused by low-risk and high-risk viral genotypes, however, is difficult. Françoise Thierry at the A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore and co-workers have now ...

How to turn living cells into computers

02/13/2013
Genetic system performs logic operations and stores data in DNA. Synthetic biologists have developed DNA modules that perform logic operations in living cells. These ‘genetic circuits’ could be used to track key moments in a cell’s life or, at the flick of a chemical switch, change a cell’s fate, the ...

Malaria drug made in yeast causes market ferment

02/13/2013
Synthetic biology delivers combination therapies into an uncertain market. “It’s been a dream project — but it’s been a long dream,” says Jay Keasling, a biochemical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley. Seven years ago, he and his team genetically engineered yeast to produce artemisinic acid (D.-K. Ro et ...

When Google got flu wrong

02/13/2013
US outbreak foxes a leading web-based method for tracking seasonal flu. When influenza hit early and hard in the United States this year, it quietly claimed an unacknowledged victim: one of the cutting-edge techniques being used to monitor the outbreak. A comparison with traditional surveillance data showed that Google Flu ...

New hope in fight against multi-resistant germs (press release)

02/13/2013
An increasing number of bacteria is evolving antibiotic resistance. Much-feared representatives of this steadily growing group include Staphylococci strains. At this point, multi-resistant forms of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus - the "hospital germ" known commonly by its acronym, MRSA - can only be treated with a select subset of antibiotics ...

Synthetic farm virus built in lab

02/12/2013
A synthetic version of the Schmallenberg virus has been made in the laboratory by Scottish scientists. The research raises hopes for developing a vaccine for the livestock disease, which causes lambs and calves to be stillborn. Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was discovered little more than a year ago in Germany, but ...

The Gram Stain: Its Persistence and Its Quirks

02/12/2013
What is more emblematic of our science than the Gram stain? Since its invention 130 years ago, it has been in frequent and continuous use. It conveniently places most bacteria into one of two groups, the Gram-positives or the Gram-negatives. Gram staining is cheap, effective, quick, and relatively easy to ...

Unique peptide could treat cancers, neurological disorders, and infectious diseases

02/11/2013
UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have synthesized a peptide that shows potential for pharmaceutical development into agents for treating infections, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer through an ability to induce a cell-recycling process called autophagy. In their latest findings reported online in the journal Nature, Center researchers were able to synthesize a ...

Immune Systems Of Healthy Adults 'Remember' Germs To Which They've Never Been Exposed

02/11/2013
In a path-breaking study to be published online in Immunity, the investigators found that over the course of our lives, CD4 cells - key players circulating in blood and lymph whose ability to kick-start the immune response to viral, bacterial, protozoan and fungal pathogens can spell the difference between life ...

Newborns' gut bacteria differ by delivery, breastfeeding

02/11/2013
In Monday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Hamilton said they found infants born by caesarean delivery lacked a group of bacteria common in the stool of infants delivered vaginally, even if they were breastfed.

UK Sees 10th Case of Mysterious, SARS-Linked Virus

02/11/2013
British officials have found the world's 10th known case of a new coronavirus, a mysterious disease related to SARS and first identified last year. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are behind ailments including the common cold and SARS. SARS killed about 800 people in a global epidemic in ...

Peering into living cells

02/11/2013
Two young EPFL scientists have developed a device that can create 3D images of living cells and track their reaction to various stimuli without the use of contrast dyes or fluorophores.

Researchers identify possible key to slow progression toward AIDS

02/11/2013
One of the big mysteries of AIDS is why some HIV-positive people take more than a decade to progress to full-blown AIDS, if they progress at all. A group of investigators from the Multi-Center AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), housed within the UCLA AIDS Institute, may have uncovered the key to ...

Cyanobacterium Anabaena planctonica

02/08/2013
Olympus Bioscapes, Honorable Mention, Dr. Petr Znachor, Laboratory of Phytoplankton Ecology, Institute of Hydrobiology,Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic. Specimen: Cyanobacterium Anabaena planctonica, Technique: Nomarski contrast, 20x Objective

Forensic Pathology: Tracing the Origin of the Usutu Virus in Blackbirds

02/08/2013
It is generally a mystery how new diseases arise and how the pathogens that cause them first enter countries. However, clues may come from examination of specimens from similar outbreaks. This approach has recently been taken by scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna to trace the origin of ...

Scientists Find Key to Growth of 'Bad' Bacteria in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

02/08/2013
Scientists have long puzzled over why "bad" bacteria such as E. coli can thrive in the guts of those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), causing serious diarrhea. Now UC Davis researchers have discovered the answer -- one that may be the first step toward finding new and better treatments for ...

Scientists Debate CDC Recommendations During Meningitis Outbreak

02/08/2013
A pair of commentaries to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy highlight a debate within the public health community surrounding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for treatment of exposed individuals during last year’s fungal meningitis outbreak. Manuscripts of the commentaries ...

Caring for Dogs to Reduce Spread of Parasite Eggs Harmful to Humans

02/08/2013
The UK dog population is estimated to be around ten million, with dogs producing approximately 1,000 tonnes of excrement each day. New research has shown that dogs act as a major source of the parasite egg, Toxocara, which can potentially contaminate the public environment and infect humans. The aim of the ...

Scientists make groundbreaking discovery of cell nucleus structure crucial to understanding diseases

02/08/2013
Genes relocated from their correct position in the nucleus cause them to malfunction and this may lead to the heart, blood vessels and muscles breaking down. This new discovery by A*STAR scientists may be the key to finding new cures in the future. Scientists from Singapore and Germany have identified that ...

Cellular alchemy caught in action

02/08/2013
One of the most critical biological advances in the past decade was the discovery that the introduction of four simple genetic factors can turn a fully mature adult cell back into an embryonic-like state, a process called reprogramming. Cllick "source" to read more and view video.

The Joy of Fungal Sex: Penicillin Mold Can Reproduce Sexually, Which Could Lead to Better Antibiotics

02/08/2013
Penicillin-producing fungus, previously thought to be asexual, has a sexual side. The finding is the latest in a kind of sexual revolution in fungal genetics. By turning off the lights, setting up an oatmeal-based bed and slipping some extra vitamins into their food, researchers have persuaded the supposedly asexual mold ...

Device Made of DNA Inserted Into Bacterial Cell Works Like a Diagnostic Computer

02/07/2013
Scientists hope that one day in the distant future, miniature, medically-savvy computers will roam our bodies, detecting early-stage diseases and treating them on the spot by releasing a suitable drug, without any outside help. To make this vision a reality, computers must be sufficiently small to fit into body cells. ...

Antibiotic Cream Has High Cure Rate, Few Side Effects in Treating Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

02/07/2013
An international collaboration of researchers from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), Tunisia and France has demonstrated a high cure rate and remarkably few side effects in treating patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) with an investigational antibiotic cream. CL is a parasitic disease that causes disfiguring lesions, ...

Beware the Germs in the Air

02/07/2013
There's nothing quite like the pastime of cloud watching. We can spend hours watching these ethereal formations pass by. We can find shapes in them, try to imagine where they came from -- and where they are going -- and whether or not they are going to open up and ...

Unique Peptide Has Therapeutic Potential Against Cancers, Neurological Disorders, and Infectious Diseases

02/07/2013
UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have synthesized a peptide that shows potential for pharmaceutical development into agents for treating infections, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer through an ability to induce a cell-recycling process called autophagy. Autophagy is a fundamental recycling process in which intracellular enzymes digest unneeded and broken parts of the ...

Scientists Notch a Win in War Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

02/06/2013
A team of scientists just won a battle in the war against antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" -- and only time will tell if their feat is akin to the bacterial "Battle of Gettysburg" that turns the tide toward victory. They won this particular battle, or at least gained some critical intelligence, not by ...

Antarctic bacteria float through winter

02/06/2013
As the Northern Hemisphere shivers through winter, bacteria in Antarctica are employing an inventive strategy to survive the extreme cold: they use a specialized antifreeze protein to latch onto the ice and stay afloat. Antifreeze proteins generally protect their hosts from freezing by controlling the growth of destructive ice crystals. They ...

Gold-digging bacterium makes precious particles

02/06/2013
Biochemical trick could aid in recovery of the metal from waste. Gold prospectors may one day use Petri dishes to help with their quests. A species of bacterium forms nanoscale gold nuggets to help it to grow in toxic solutions of the precious metal, reports a paper published online today ...

Oddly Microbial: Prions

02/06/2013
Prions can turn their victims into zombies—they punch holes in their brains and steal their souls. The infected stumble about, might take a bite out of someone if hungry, certainly don’t think straight and, most important, lose their memories and with them the very essence of their humanity or “soul.” ...

From DNA clash, ‘double whammy’ for flies

02/06/2013
Plant and animal cells have two genomes—in the nucleus and the mitochondria. A new study describes how a clash between the two makes fruit flies sick. Diseases from a mutation in one genome are complicated enough, but some illnesses arise from errant interactions between the DNA in the nucleus and ...

Flu Attack! How A Virus Invades Your Body (video)

02/01/2013
When you get the flu, viruses turn your cells into tiny factories that help spread the disease. In this animation, NPR's Robert Krulwich and medical animator David Bolinsky explain how a flu virus can trick a single cell into making a million more viruses. See and hear the rest of the ...

Discovery in synthetic biology a step closer to new industrial revolution

02/01/2013
Scientists report that they have developed a method that cuts down the time it takes to make new parts for microscopic biological factories. Scientists report that they have developed a method that cuts down the time it takes to make new ‘parts’ for microscopic biological factories from 2 days to only ...

Malnourished Gain Lifesaver in Antibiotics

02/01/2013
Two studies of malnourished children offer the first major new scientific findings in a decade about the causes and treatment of severe malnutrition, which affects more than 20 million children around the world and contributes to the deaths of more than a million a year. Merely giving children a cheap ...

Virus Study May Signal Trouble for Animal Populations Facing Climate Change

02/01/2013
Aside from rising sea levels, many climate change models predict that in the future, the planet's temperature and weather will become increasingly erratic with wild, unpredictable storms and fluctuating conditions. A new study from researchers at the University of Florida and Yale University and published today by the journal Evolution investigated ...

'Psychic cells': Scientists discover cells can communicate through physical barriers

02/01/2013
Scientists at UCLA and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science have discovered a possible method by which cancer cells and dying cells communicate with nearby normal nerve cells without being physically connected to them. Dr. Keith Norris, senior author of the research and assistant dean for clinical and translational ...

Wrinkly coating can shimmy off bacteria

02/01/2013
Applied to the hull of a ship like paint, a new material could shake off scum by moving in response to an electric current. Bacterial buildup on ships increases drag and reduces the energy efficiency of the vessel, as well as blocking or clogging undersea sensors. The material works by physically moving ...

Squishy Science: Extract DNA from Smashed Strawberries

01/31/2013
Fun science activity for kids! Have you ever wondered how scientists extract DNA from an organism? All living organisms have DNA, which is short for deoxyribonucleic acid; it is basically the blueprint for everything that happens inside an organism’s cells. Overall, DNA tells an organism how to develop and function, and ...

A 'neurosteroid' found to prevent brain injury caused by HIV/AIDS (press release)

01/31/2013
New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that a network of steroid molecules found in the brain is disrupted during HIV infection, and treatment with the steroid DHEA-S prevents brain damage. A team of scientists from Canada, Thailand and Morocco have found that DHEA-S may prevent neurocognitive impairment that affects a ...

Achnanthes longipes

01/31/2013
Achnanthes longipes (a diatom, Bacillariophyta) (1000x) Nikon Small World 2012 PHOTOMICROGRAPHY COMPETITION, IMAGE OF DISTINCTION, Dr. Victor Chepurnov, De Water Architect, Ghent, Belgium

Patients can emit small, influenza-containing particles into the air during routine care (press release)

01/31/2013
A new study suggests that patients with influenza can emit small virus-containing particles into the surrounding air during routine patient care, potentially exposing health care providers to influenza. Published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the findings raise the possibility that current influenza infection control recommendations may not always be ...
01/31/2013
A rumbling tummy is our body's way of telling us "it's time for lunch." Likewise, bacteria need to know when it's time to eat. Researchers at the Institute of Food Research on the Norwich Research Park have uncovered how the food-borne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni can change its swimming behaviour to ...

Scientists Teach Bacteria To Eat Electricity

01/31/2013
In a new study, iron-oxidizing microbes give fresh meaning to the phrase "living off the grid," and provide fresh hope as a potential biofuel. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, have coaxed a species of bacteria into trading their usual diet of partially-oxidized iron for a small current of ...

Bdellovibrio’s Appetite for Metabolites

01/31/2013
Not long ago, Elio said in this blog that predation, a major force in evolution, is somewhat neglected in microbiological circles. The full implications of predation are just beginning to be uncovered as more becomes known about the ecology, physiology, and genomics of predators against microbes and their interactions with ...

'Rhythm' of protein folding encoded in RNA, biologists find

01/31/2013
Multiple RNA sequences can code for the same amino acid, but differences in their respective "optimality" slow or accelerate protein translation. Stanford biologists find optimal and non-optimal codons are consistently associated with specific protein structures, suggesting that they influence the mysterious process of protein folding. Click "source" to read more.

Nassula ornata

01/29/2013
Nikon Small World 2012 PHOTOMICROGRAPHY COMPETITION, IMAGE OF DISTINCTION, Wim van Egmond, Micropolitan Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Nassula ornata, conjugating ciliates

Tomorrow's Life-Saving Medications May Currently Be Living at the Bottom of the Sea

01/29/2013
OHSU researchers, in partnership with scientists from several other institutions, have published two new research papers that signal how the next class of powerful medications may currently reside at the bottom of the ocean. In both cases, the researchers were focused on ocean-based mollusks -- a category of animal that ...

Protein in skin cells helps nix flu virus

01/29/2013
Scientists have found a new protein that protects against viral infections, including influenza. They have been investigating the “defensive devices” contained within the T-cells that are located on exposed body surfaces such as skin and mucosal surfaces to ward off infection. T-cells detect cells infected with viruses and kill them before ...

Skies Full of Life: Microbes May Thrive in the High Atmosphere

01/29/2013
Each year, hundreds of millions of metric tons of dust, water, and humanmade pollutants make their way into the atmosphere, often traveling between continents on jet streams. Now a new study confirms that some microbes make the trip with them, seeding the skies with billions of bacteria and other organisms ...

‘Zoomable’ Map of Poplar Proteins Offers New View of Bioenergy Crop

01/29/2013
Researchers seeking to improve production of ethanol from woody crops have a new resource in the form of an extensive molecular map of poplar tree proteins, published by a team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Populus, a fast-growing perennial tree, holds potential as a bioenergy crop due ...

Researcher investigates how cells tune in to important information

01/25/2013
Every minute of its existence, a living cell must assess and analyze myriad bits of information—everything from the temperature of its environment to the chemical makeup of its surroundings. Sometimes, these inputs cause a cell to change how it functions, but other times, the information may not lead to a ...

IBM: Our new gel can kill superbugs

01/25/2013
Researchers from computer firm IBM say they have invented a new non-toxic gel that can kill deadly drug-resistant bacteria by cutting through the sludge that shelters them and attacking the germ's cell membrane. If verified, the finding could herald a breakthrough in the fight against the superbugs that infect hospitals everywhere ...

Use cells’ suicide alarm to fight bioterrorism

01/25/2013
The alarm system the helps immune system cells destroy invading bacteria points to a potentially new way to protect people from biological weapons, researchers report. Cells in the immune system called macrophages normally engulf and kill intruding bacteria, holding them inside a membrane-bound bag called a vacuole, where they kill and ...

At least 1 in 5 were infected in flu pandemic, international study suggests (press release)

01/25/2013
The highest rates of infection were in children, with 47 per cent of those aged five to 19 showing signs of having caught the virus. Older people were affected less, with only 11 per cent of people aged 65 or older becoming infected. The findings come from an international collaboration led ...

Egypt: Polio Virus Is Found in Cairo’s Sewers

01/24/2013
The polio virus has been found in the sewers of Cairo, and it appears to have come from Pakistan, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Egypt has not had a case of polio since 2004. A vaccination drive is being planned for Feb. 25, and health workers are canvassing the ...

Planning for Bacteria in Cancer Patients May Help Hospitals Fight Infections

01/24/2013
What cancerous conditions lead to what kinds of bacterial infections? If doctors knew, they could predict which patients would likely benefit from pre-treatment with certain kinds of antibiotics. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in this month's issue of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases shows the answer: ...

Bacterial supplement could help young pigs fight disease

01/24/2013
A common type of bacteria may help pigs stay healthy during weaning. In a study of 36 weanling-age pigs, researchers found that a dose of lipid-producing Rhodococcus opacus bacteria increased circulating triglycerides. Triglycerides are a crucial source of energy for the immune system. Click "source" to read more.

Book Review: Viruses: Essential Agents of Life

01/24/2013
Virology was born in 1898, and has suffered from sampling bias ever since. For decades, viruses were defined by what they were not: not as big as a bacterium, not visible with a microscope, not culturable in the absence of a host. At the dawn of the 20th century, undiscovered ...

Euplotes cell division

01/23/2013
Nikon Small World 2012 PHOTOMICROGRAPHY COMPETITION, IMAGE OF DISTINCTION, Rogelio Moreno Gill Euplotes belongs to the class Nassophorea in the phylum Ciliophora; the ciliates, of which there are approximately 8,000 species, are generally considered to be the most evolved and complex of the protozoans. The cell surface is covered with hundreds ...

Eczema in Infants Linked to Gut Bacteria

01/23/2013
Children with eczema have a more diverse set of bacteria in their guts than non affected children, finds a new study in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Microbiology. The types of bacteria present were also more typical of adult gut microbes than for toddlers without eczema. Eczema is a chronic ...

Biting the Hand That Clothes You

01/23/2013
Troublesome strains of Staphylococcus aureus are often troublesome because they carry genes for superantigens and multiple antibiotic resistance. But don’t blame the bacteria. These genes are hitchhikers that arrived by horizontal gene transfer, embedded within mobile pathogenicity islands known as SaPIs. SaPIs are common; all S. aureus strains investigated so ...

How Cells' DNA Repair Machinery Can Destroy Viruses

01/23/2013
A team of researchers based at Johns Hopkins has decoded a system that makes certain types of immune cells impervious to HIV infection. The system's two vital components are high levels of a molecule that becomes embedded in viral DNA like a code written in invisible ink, and an enzyme ...

By deforming cells, researchers deliver RNA, proteins and nanoparticles for many applications

01/23/2013
Living cells are surrounded by a membrane that tightly regulates what gets in and out of the cell. This barrier is necessary for cells to control their internal environment, but it makes it more difficult for scientists to deliver large molecules such as nanoparticles for imaging, or proteins that can ...

You Are Your Microbes

01/16/2013
Very cute animated video about the microbial ecology of the human body. You are your microbes - Jessica Green and Karen Guillemin from TedEd.

Virus caught in the act of infecting a cell (with video)

01/14/2013
The detailed changes in the structure of a virus as it infects an E. coli bacterium have been observed for the first time, report researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) Medical School this week in Science ...

Wolbachia Make Fruit Flies Lay More Eggs to Make More Wolbachia

01/14/2013
If you would like to have a particularly striking organism named after you, choose your collaborator well. The Harvard rickettsiologist S. Burt Wolbach was lucky to have such a colleague—the entomologist Marshall Hertig. In 1936, Hertig gave the name Wolbachia to the endosymbionts of mosquitoes they had jointly discovered in ...

Toothbrush tree yields antibiotic to treat TB in new way

01/14/2013
A compound from the South African toothbrush tree inactivates a drug target for tuberculosis in a previously unseen way. Tuberculosis causes more deaths worldwide than any other bacterial disease. At the same time as rates are increasing, resistance strains are emerging due, in part, to non-compliance with the treatment required. Many ...

People judge flu risk by cost of vaccine

01/07/2013
Based on the price of medication, consumers make irrational inferences about their risk of getting sick. The study, published in Journal of Consumer Research, finds