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Do cheaters have an evolutionary advantage?

Anyone who has crawled along in the left lane while other drivers raced up the right lane, which was clearly marked “lane ends, merge left,” has experienced social cheating, a maddening and fascinating behavior common to many species. Although it won’t help with road rage, scientists are beginning to understand cheating ...

Cyanobacterium found in algae collection holds promise for biotech applications

Cyanobacteria could serve as a synthetic biology chassis that could be retooled for the production of biofuels, drugs or chemcials. So far, however, they have been held back by sluggish growth that makes it difficult to conduct the initial experiments needed to characterize their genetic and metabolic networks. But this ...

Why are bacteria all the same size

Just when we think we know everything, a story comes along to remind us that there is something fundamental--and seemingly elementary--that we still haven't figured out. “Why are we the size we are? Why are our organs the size they are? Why are the cells in those organs a stereotypical ...

Slaying bacteria with their own weapons

A chemist at Washington University in St. Louis is studying siderophores, iron chelating molecules released by bacteria during an infection, with the thought of using them to design personalized antibiotic therapy that would avoid the rapid evolution of resistance that plagues antibiotic drug discovery. The siderophores, he thinks, can be ...

New drugs for bad bugs

Washington University in St Louis chemist Timothy Wencewicz says we’ll stay ahead of antibiotic resistance only if we find drugs with new scaffolds, or core chemical structures. One promising candidate, an antibiotic made by a bacterium than infects plants, caught his attention because it contains an “enchanted ring,” the beta-lactam ...

Microbes buy low and sell high

Single-celled organisms have been shown to avoid bad trading partners, build local business ties, diversify or specialize in a particular commodity, save for a rainy day, eliminate the competition and otherwise behave in ways that seem to follow market-based principles.The question, a team of scientists ask, is which, if any, ...

Model Organism gone wild

Some wild clones of social amoebas farm the bacteria they eat, but this is a losing strategy if nonfarming amoebas can steal the farmers’ crops. To make the strategy work, the farmers also carry bacteria that secrete chemicals that poison free riders. The work suggest farming is complex evolutionary adaptation ...

Protein that delays cell division in bacteria may lead to idenfication of new antibiotics

Bacteria adjust to wide fluctuations in food supply by controlling how big they get and how often they divide. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have just worked out the control system E. coli use to delay division so they can bulk up when food suddently becomes abundant. What ...
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