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 C... Read More
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 imports, it... Read More
While I was working on the “H1N-What?” post, I also knew there would soon be questions about MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), just as there were about SARS. So here are the essentials of what we know and don’t know about MERS—which has just been reported in the U.S.—as well as intriguing... Read More
We need to understand how diverse communities of microbes interact, but doing so in the gut is hard. Why not turn to a model system, where diverse microbial communities interact, but in an environment that’s easier to study? We have a long history of using model systems in biology – the mice I m... Read More
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,... Read More
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 ... Read More
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 Worl... Read More
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 able to slow down their de... Read More
Isolated colony of Mycobacterium smegmatis grown on TSA for 96 hrs at 37 degrees C. Margin is lobate with an irregular-rhizoid form. Image taken using transmitted light. Read More
Life is no cake walk at the ocean floor, where carbon is scarce and light nonexistent. At least near deep ocean vents, mineral-rich water bubbles up from magma beneath the crust, providing both heat and a source of energy. In these alien environments, lithotrophs- bacteria that eat minerals ins... Read More
Streak plate of Streptococcus pyogenes (incubated @ 37 degrees C for 48 hrs) showing beta hemolysis, complete lysis of red blood cells, around the isolated colonies. Image taken using transmitted light. Read More
This episode: Interview with Jordi van Gestel: cheaters in bacterial communities don't always succeed!
(13.1 MB, 14.25 minutes)
This month the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet to decide whether or not to destroy the last living strains of the variola virus, which causes smallpox. Since the WHO declared the disease eradicated in 1979, the scientific community has debated whether or not to destroy live virus sampl... Read More
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 fat... Read More
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 ... Read More
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 f... Read More
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 ... Read More
The 1918 influenza pandemic was particularly lethal, not only for the very young and the very old (as observed for typical influenza), but unexpectedly also for young adults, 20 to 40 years of age (pictured). It has been suggested that the increased lethality in young adults occurred because the... Read More