Synthetic biology hit the headlines when Craig Venter recently announced the creation of Synthia – the first organism with a computer as a parent.
JCVI-syn1.0, as the artificial microbe is officially known, will become a poster child for synthetic biology. But it was created from known geneti... Read More
This is spelunking with a twist. This is academic spelunking that is uncovering answers to questions. It is cave exploration that is helping sharpen the skills of tomorrow’s microbiologists.
Welcome to Todd Sandrin’s classroom. The associate director of the New College Division of Mathematica... Read More
While an out-of-control gusher deep in the Gulf of Mexico fouls beaches and chokes marshland habitat, another threat could be growing below the oil-slicked surface.
The nation’s worst oil spill could worsen and expand the oxygen-starved region of the Gulf labeled “the dead zone” for its inhos... Read More
Scientists are reporting the first evidence that a plastic antibody -- an artificial version of the proteins produced by the body's immune system to recognize and fight infections and foreign substances -- works in the bloodstream of a living animal. The discovery, they suggest in a report in th... Read More
President Obama has appointed a new Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, replacing his predecessor's President's Council on Bioethics. Like the previous entity and similar ones before it, the group will advise the president on a wide range of difficult, controversial scien... Read More
In fall 1976 the first recorded Ebola outbreak ravaged a small village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The virus, named for the river valley where it was found, causes a deadly hemorrhagic fever. It spread quickly via contact with blood and contaminated needles killing... Read More
Lapses in procedures aimed at fighting infections are common in ambulatory surgical centers, a study shows. The lapses include safe hygiene methods and improper handling of medications and equipment.
The study by the CDC is published in the June 9 issue of The Journal of the American Medical ... Read More
In the event of an infection, the immune system releases messenger substances. These molecules can either activate immune cells to defeat invading pathogens, or inhibit them to prevent an excessive immune reaction. For this, the immune system has to decide very quickly what mixture of activating... Read More
"Drug firms 'encouraged world health body to exaggerate swine flu threat'," screamed Britain's Daily Mail newspaper on June 4. "2 European reports criticize WHO's H1N1 pandemic guidelines as tainted," headlined The Washington Post the next day. To judge from media coverage last week, a major sc... Read More
How safe is the food we get from restaurants, cafeterias and other food-service providers? A new study from North Carolina State University -- the first study to place video cameras in commercial kitchens to see how precisely food handlers followed food-safety guidelines -- discovered that risky... Read More
Purdue University scientists have improved a strain of yeast that can produce more biofuel from cellulosic plant material by fermenting all five types of the plant's sugars.
Nathan Mosier, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering; Miroslav Sedlak, a research assistant... Read More
Any gardener has seen it happen. One plant in the backyard thrives, while its neighbor of the same species is plagued with infection. Why?
One reason may be genetic. Researchers have discovered that more resistant mouse ear cress plants have a variant of a gene known as ACD6. Plants with thi... Read More
Tuberculosis (TB) is an enormous global public health problem. Migration and failure by governments and the public health community to adequately treat and prevent TB among migrants is an important barrier to TB control.
To reduce the incidence, spread and severity of tuberculosis, government... Read More
Traditionally, biology is about taking apart things like cells to better understand them. For the geneticist George M. Church, the main objective is to put the pieces back together.
Strolling through his laboratory, one of the larger ones at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Church, 56, points out... Read More
Science blogger Cesar Sanchez of the site Twisted Bacteria (twistedbacteria.blogspot.com) reviews the American Society for Microbiology's use of social media during their general meeting and also highlights several tweets coming from attendees:
"Lots of conferences and meetings on science-rel... Read More
While its widespread application in law enforcement is still years away, scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder have developed a technique that can match the “personal” bacteria on an individual’s hands and fingers with bacteria deposited on computer keyboards and mice. Once perfecte... Read More
Researchers at McGill's department of natural resources, the National Research Council of Canada, the University of Toronto and the SETI Institute have discovered that methane-eating bacteria survive in a highly unique spring located on Axel Heiberg Island in Canada's extreme North. Dr. Lyle Why... Read More
Nashvillians who lived during the 1918 flu virus could save lives if the world were hit with a similar deadly pandemic.
The 1918 virus, known as the Spanish influenza, claimed at least 50 million lives worldwide and wiped out 5 percent of the U.S. population. More than 13,000 Tennesseans died... Read More
Scientists at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), a biomedical research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and their colleagues from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and Princeton Uni... Read More
Microbes are certainly being exposed to oil in the Gulf—both on the surface and at depth—and they are the first responders. Although many microbiologists naturally are interested in the identities of the oil degrading bacteria, this is of less relevance than the chemical changes the mixed microb... Read More