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The sorceress’s apprentice

ANYONE who walks in the woods will be familiar with witches’ brooms (pictured). Many trees sport these bushy tumours, which have a variety of causes. An important one is a group of bacteria called phytoplasma that are, in turn, carried from plant to plant by sap-sucking insects such as leafhoppe... Read More

TWiM 76 Letters

Geoffrey writes:


Doctors:

I just got around to listening to episode 12 “Photothermal Nanoblades and Genome Engineering”. Your comment that it would need to be scaled up before it was practical for some of you to use intrigued me. I did a quick Google sear... Read More

4 Ways Tiny Microbes Changed Life on Earth Forever

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 o... Read More

What Happens to Bacteria in Space?

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 f... Read More

Researchers Discover Possible New Target To Attack Flu Virus

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 an... Read More

Soap Compound Could Make It Easier For Staph Bacteria To Colonize In Your Nose

A common ingredient in antibacterial soap can be found in some people's noses, and the presence of this ingredient could be promoting the colonization of Staph bacteria, according to a small new study in the journal mBio.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found triclosan in the nasa... Read More

Evolutionary Battle Explains Why Fruit Spoils

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 ... Read More

Guinea's first Ebola survivors return to family, stigma remains

GUECKEDOU, Guinea, April 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - H iccups, say doctors in this remote corner of Guinea, are the final tell-tale sign of infection by the Ebola virus that has killed more than 100 people since an outbreak began this year.

Then come profuse bleeding, circulatory shock a... Read More

Stockpiles of Roche Tamiflu drug are waste of money, review finds

Researchers who have fought for years to get full data on Roche's flu medicine Tamiflu said on Thursday that governments who stockpile it are wasting billions of dollars on a drug whose effectiveness is in doubt.

In a review of trial data on Tamiflu, and on GlaxoSmithKline's flu drug Relenza,... Read More

Predicting the virulence of MRSA from its genome sequence

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... Read More

Antibiotic resistance enzyme caught in the act

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... Read More

Immune cell ‘defenders’ could beat invading bacteria

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 defen... Read More

Cordyceps: attack of the killer fungi

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 l... Read More

Microgravity research helping to understand the fungi within

(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 weakened immune systems. ... Read More

Bacterial 'FM radio' developed

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 ... Read More

This Spinning Disk Can Detect Salmonella In 30 Minutes

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... Read More

Bacteria Turn Plants and Insects into Zombies

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 flu... Read More

Amoeba Takes Bites of Human Cells to Kill Them

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 could one day help ... Read More

Physarum polycephalum Different view

Physarum polycephalum, slime mold, grown in a large perti plate on moist paper towels using oatmeal as the food source. Culture was grown in the dark at room temperature. The paper towel was moistened every day with tap water. After 3 week’s the culture formed sporangia (fruiting bodies). Image ... Read More
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