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

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 a... Read More

The crab-castrating parasite that zombifies its prey

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 it.

Th... Read More

A Gaming System Starring... Microbes

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, Bri... Read More

HIV Can Cut and Paste in the Human Genome

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... Read More

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

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 distinct... Read More

Amber discovery indicates Lyme disease is older than human race

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 w... Read More

TWiM #79: A community of microbiologists

Hosts: Vincent RacanielloMichael Schmidt, and Read More

TWiM 79 Letters

Matthew writes:


Dear Doctors,


After listening to the second portion of TWiM 78, talking about the presence of gram-negative nosocomials around Brooklyn, I noticed a several people wearing scrubs while at lunch near a hospital in Houston, TX. Then a thought occ... Read More

Sneaky bacteria change key protein’s shape to escape detection

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 sight. Their findings... Read More

Researchers aim to disarm a 'cereal killer'

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 an... Read More

Sending Algae into Space to Probe Plants in Extreme Environments

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... Read More

The pirate in the microbe

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... Read More

Variety in diet can hamper microbial diversity in the gut

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 can influence... Read More

A biodegradable plastic made from waste methane

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 deca... Read More

Cells in Living Things Fight Noise with Noise

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 t... Read More

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

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 case of... Read More

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

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 ma... Read More

How Bacteria in Placenta Could Help Shape Human Health

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 new... Read More

Mycotoxin protects against nematodes

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 bio... Read More

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

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 he... Read More

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