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Esther Lederberg, Pioneer of Bacterial Genetics

“She did pioneering work in genetics, but it was her husband who won a Nobel price.” So said an obituary in the British newspaper The Guardian regarding Esther Lederberg, a North American microbiologist married to Joshua Lederberg from 1946 to 1966 [8]. Being married to and working along such a... Read More

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Hang Out in Hog Workers

Careful what you sniff. Especially if you work at an industrial hog farm. Because a small study finds that drug-resistant bacteria may hang out in the noses of some workers even after four days away from work following exposure. Almost half of the tested workers continued to harbor drug-resistan... Read More

Artificial magnetic bacteria "turn" food into natural drugs

Scientists from the University of Granada have successfully created magnetic bacteria that could be added to foodstuffs and could, after ingestion, help diagnose diseases of the digestive system like stomach cancer. These important findings constitute the first use of a food as a natural drug an... Read More

A new way to diagnose malaria

Using magnetic fields, technique can detect parasite’s waste products in infected blood cells.

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye... Read More

New type of heredity described in Paramecia, linked to epigenetics

Considered as an obsolete theory for many years, the transmission of acquired traits has returned to the forefront of debate thanks to the development of epigenetic research. In this context, a team of researchers has described how in Paramecia, mating types are transmitted from generation to ge... Read More

Battling superbugs

Two new technologies could enable novel strategies for combating drug-resistant bacteria.

In recent years, new strains of bacteria have emerged that resist even the most powerful antibiotics. Each year, these superbugs, including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and staphylococcus, infect... Read More

Bacteria Allow Woodrats to Eat Poison

This article was first published in 2013 on the website for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Many plants do not want to be eaten. They avoid this fate by producing deadly toxins and carcinogenic poisons, such as those associated with the aptly named poison ivy, poison sumac... Read More

"Immortal" Cells from Henrietta Lacks Lead to Updated Rules on Genomic Data Sharing

Scientists who work on genomics and are funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) must post their data online so that others can build on the information, the agency has said in an update to its guidelines.

The change, which expands the remit of an earlier data-sharing policy, is ... Read More

Supportive care may help American Ebola patients survive

Nurse Amber Vinson's discharge from the hospital Tuesday brings to seven the number of American patients who have survived Ebola, leading many people to wonder what has allowed them to beat the odds.

In West Africa, about 70% of patients die from the Ebola virus, according to the World Health... Read More

Killer Silk: Making Silk Fibers That Kill Anthrax and Other Microbes in Minutes

A simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease-causing bacteria -- even the armor-coated spores of microbes like anthrax -- in minutes, scientists are reporting in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. They describe a range of pot... Read More

BacterioFiles 188 - Rat Residents Relieve Resin Roughness

This episode: Gut bacteria in Mojave desert woodrats help them detoxify and eat toxic creosote bushes!


(10 MB, 10.8 minutes)


Show notes: 
News item/ Read More

How Did Nigeria Quash Its Ebola Outbreak So Quickly?

On July 20 a man who was ill flew on commercial planes from the heart of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia to Lagos, Nigeria's largest city. That man became Nigeria's first Ebola case—the index patient. In a matter of weeks some 19 people across two states were diagnosed with the disease (with one a... Read More

MERS virus detected in air samples from Saudi camel barn

Saudi scientists have found gene fragments of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in air from a barn housing an infected camel and say this suggests the disease may be transmitted through the air.

MERS, a serious respiratory illness caused by a virus known as a coronaviru... Read More

Crowdsourcing To Solve Microbe Mysteries

Scientists hope to unlock the secrets of millions of marine microbes from waters as far apart as Sydney’s Botany Bay and the Amazon River in Brazil, with the help of an international team of volunteers sharing their spare computer capacity to create a research “supercomputer”.

The project, co... Read More

Deadly Bacteria Lurk in Deepwater Horizon Tar Balls

Nearly two years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster gushed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, tar balls from the spill still turn up on Alabama's shores after storms. Now, one researcher is recommending that people steer clear of these tar balls after studies find them chock-f... Read More

Ancient Viruses Lurk In Frozen Caribou Poo

A careful examination of frozen caribou poop has turned up two never-before-seen viruses.

The viruses are hundreds of years old: One of them probably infected plants the caribous ate. The other may have infected insects that buzzed around the animals.

The findings prove viruses can survive... Read More

Shigella Steals Host Nutrients... Economically

Intracellular pathogens face many daunting problems, among them how to obtain enough energy and nutrients for active growth while, preferably, keeping the host cell alive for as long as possible. This issue is especially acute for pathogens that grow at a fast rate and reach large numbers. When ... Read More

Two More Questions about CRISPRs

Over the past eight years, step-by-step, researchers have established a basic understanding of the CRISPR defenses against foreign DNA so widely used by both bacteria and archaea. We related the early story on STC in 2008 and commented on six additional questions in 2011. Still, questions remain... Read More

Viral Switches Share a Shape

A hinge in the RNA genome of the virus that causes hepatitis C works like a switch that can be flipped to prevent it from replicating in infected cells. Scientists have discovered that this shape is shared by several other viruses—among them one that kills cancer cells.

That’s Seneca Valley v... Read More

On the trail of the truffle flavour

German an French Scientists found out: Soil bacteria contribute to the taste and smell of white truffles.

Truffles, along with caviar, are among the most expensive foods in the world. Because they grow underground, people use trained dogs or pigs to find them. But the distinctive smell of tru... Read More

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