Early life exposure to normal bacteria of the GI tract (gut microbes) protects against autoimmune disease in mice, according to research published on-line in the January 17 edition of Science. The study may also have uncovered reasons why females are at greater risk of autoimmune diseases such a... Read More
The spring semester has begun at Columbia University, which means that it is time to teach my virology course. The fourth annual installment of my virology course, Biology W3310, has begun. This course, which I taught for the first time in 2009, is intended for advanced undergraduates and conven... Read More
When you purchase chicken eggs at the market, they usually have white or brown shells. But some breeds of chicken produce blue or green eggs. The blue color is caused by insertion of a retrovirus into the chicken genome, which activates a gene involved in the production of blue eggs. Read More
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-com... Read More
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 bioscien... Read More
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 Staphylococc... Read More
A study released today from the upcoming issue of the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (JPIDS) found that taking early and repeated white blood cell counts (WBC) is critical in determining whether infants have pertussis and which of those children are at highest risk of death... Read More
In a recent post I shared with you how different microbes come together to breathe as one. In some cases, all it takes is the presence of conductive minerals such as magnetite to facilitate the exchange of metabolic electrons between two microbial partners. This allows the team to catalyze a red... Read More
Yesterday many US newspapers carried front-page stories on the severity of influenza so far this season. The New York Times story began with “It is not your imagination — more people you know are sick this winter, even people who have had flu shots.” Is this really a bad flu season? Read More
Death is what fungi are all about. By feasting on the deceased remains of almost all organisms on the planet, converting the organic matter back into soil from which new life will spring, they perform perhaps the most vital function in the global food web. Fungi, which thrive on death, make all ... Read More
The people on the front lines of tuberculosis control have their hands full, but their biggest challenge for the moment may be containing strains of the disease that are resistant to drugs.
Worldwide the number of TB cases is going down. The bad news is that the number of drug-resistant cases... Read More
Conventional wisdom holds that genes determine the shape and structure (morphology) of animals, but something else may be at play. A new study shows that a roundworm (P. pacificus) regulates its offspring's morphology by using a potent cocktail of small-molecule signals. Exposure to trace quanti... Read More
This episode: Slime mold cells carry bacteria with them, some for food and some for chemical warfare!
Bacteria that resist antibiotics are a growing problem worldwide, but one we thought we could limit or even reverse by better control of the drugs. The situation may be more complicated: some bacteria that have never seen an antibiotic can evolve resistance, and even thrive on it.
Bacteria us... Read More
New research led by the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and the University of Glasgow, Scotland, has identified a link between a human gene and the composition of human gastrointestinal bacteria. In a study published as a letter to the journal Gut, the team outline new evidence suggesting that th... Read More
The World Health Organization’s campaign to eradicate poliomyelitis made impressive inroads in 2012: only 212 cases were reported, compared with 620 the previous year; moreover, India remained polio-free. The dark side of this story is that as wild polio is eliminated, vaccine-associated poliomy... Read More
Scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health are attempting to find out more about a lethal new coronavirus and determine if it will become a pandemic or stay a limited threat.
Vincent Munster, a representative of the NIH’s Virus Ecology Unit, attended the annual meeting of the Biodef... Read More
Bacteria from a healthy person can be transplanted to an ill person to help them recuperate. Visiting Jamaican-born Prof Karen E Nelson, president J Craig Venter Institute, explained this was one of the strides being made in genomics, which is the study of the collective genetic material in an o... Read More
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 s... Read More