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Rare byproduct of marine bacteria kills cancer cells by snipping their DNA

Yale University researchers have determined how a scarce molecule produced by marine bacteria can kill cancer cells, paving the way for the development of new, low-dose chemotherapies.

The molecule, lomaiviticin A, was previously shown to be lethal to cultured human cancer cells, but the mech... Read More

The bug that lost a few genes to become Black Death

About 6,000 years ago, a bacterium underwent a few genetic changes. These allowed it to expand its habitat from the guts of mice to that of fleas. Such changes happen all the time, but in this particular instance the transformation eventually resulted in the Black Death that wiped out a third of... Read More

Natural History is Dying, and We Are All the Losers

A few weeks ago, I came across a new paper in BioScience called “Natural History’s Place in Science and Society” that contained the following graph.

On the right axis and indicated by the line surrounded by dots is the proportion of introductory biology texts devoted to natural history since ... Read More

A Cheap, Promising Way to Filter Water: Through A Twig

One way to avoid getting sick while traveling is to only eat fruit that you peel yourself, since plants can filter out bacteria and prevent it from traveling throughout their tissues. Well, why not apply this principle to filtering water directly? A team of scientists have done just that, testi... Read More

Brewing yeasts reveal secrets of chromosomal warfare and dysfunction

Using two yeasts that have been used to brew tea and beer for centuries, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have revealed how reproductive barriers might rapidly arise to create species boundaries. Schizosaccharomyces pombe has been used to brew beer in Africa, whereas its clo... Read More

Retrospective, December 2013

We continue our semi-annual ritual and post this quick tour of our featured blog posts published since June 2013.

Evolution

Microbial ‘Starstuff’. Associate blogger Gemma Reguera tells us how the remnants of a dying star become transmuted into microbial stuff, including cellular structures... Read More

Antibiotic resistance mechanisms of clinically important bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance mechanisms of clinically important bacteria. Read More

Nutrient-absorbing surface’s assembly revealed: study

Vanderbilt University researchers have now discovered how intestinal cells build this specialized structure, which is critical for absorbing nutrients and defending against pathogens. The findings, published April 10 in the journal Cell, reveal a role for adhesion molecules in brush border assem... Read More

Insight into pathogenic fungus

The fungal pathogen Candida albicans causes yeast infections, diaper rashes and oral thrush, and is the most common fungal pathogen to infect humans. Researchers have identified a protein that the fungus uses to defend itself against the human body. Another concern with the fungus is that it can... Read More

Six to Tango

One genome at a time can be exciting, but two even more so. I’m not entirely sure why this is, although it may explain our fascination with sex. And what if more than two entities were involved? What if the intimacy were not just between two individual organisms, but between a greater number of ... Read More

Scientists Finally Catch On to Social Media

In 2011, Emmanuel Nnaemeka Nnadi needed help to sequence some drug-resistant fungal pathogens. A PhD student studying microbiology in Nigeria, he did not have the expertise and equipment he needed. So he turned to ResearchGate, a free social-networking site for academics, and fired off a few e-m... Read More

TWiM #85: Oscillation in the ocean and a Verona integron

Hosts: Vincent RacanielloMichael Schmidt, ... Read More

Printable Biotechnology

Cells, biological circuits, and individual biomolecules organize themselves and interact with the environment. Use of these capabilities in flexible and economically efficient biotechnological production systems is in the focus of the "Molecular Interaction Engineering" (MIE) project. It is the ... Read More

Wolbachia Genome Reduction, Phage WO, and Reproductive Parasitism

Abstract:

Wolbachia are maternally transmitted endosymbionts that often alter their arthropod hosts’ biology to favor the success of infected females, and they may also serve as a speciation microbe driving reproductive isolation. Two of these host manipulations include killing males outrigh... Read More

The virus detective who discovered Ebola in 1976

Nearly 40 years ago, a young Belgian scientist travelled to a remote part of the Congolese rainforest - his task was to help find out why so many people were dying from an unknown and terrifying disease.

In September 1976, a package containing a shiny, blue thermos flask arrived at the Instit... Read More

US Travelers Return Home With Tropical Disease. Will It Spread In The States?

If you happened to be reading state health departments’ outbreak announcements this past weekend, you might have seen something interesting.

(You don’t do this? Hmm.)

Three states — Rhode Island, North Carolina and Tennessee — all said that they have identified residents who have been diag... Read More

Bacteria: A day in the life

MIT study finds ocean bacteria follow predictable patterns of daily activity.

We are all creatures of habit, and a new MIT study finds ocean bacteria are no exception.

In a paper published this week in Science, researchers from MIT and elsewhere report that microbes in the open ocean follo... Read More

A Snippet: One Fungus, Two Bacteria

How often have you heard of two or more bacterial species coexisting within the same cell of a host? It’s known to happen with some frequency in some amebas, insects and other invertebrates (including the strange case of the mealybug bacteria, which have an endosymbiotic bacterium that carries a... Read More

Drugs fail to reawaken dormant HIV infection

Scientists report that compounds they hoped would "wake up" dormant reservoirs of HIV inside immune system T cells -- a strategy designed to reverse latency and make the cells vulnerable to destruction -- have failed to do so in laboratory tests of such white blood cells taken directly from pati... Read More

Sauerkraut: bacteria making food

Last week my husband needed some jars for cooking purposes. Tesco sell jars for somewhere around £3 each. However they also sell large jars full of sauerkraut for £1 each. Which means that last weekend we had an awful lot of sauerkraut to try and get through.

I’m not a great fan of sauerkraut... Read More

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