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Herpes infected humans before they were human

Researchers have identified the evolutionary origins of human herpes simplex virus (HSV) -1 and -2, reporting that the former infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago while the latter jumped from ancient chimpanzees to ancestors of modern humans -- H... Read More

Bacteria swim with bodies and flagella

Using a new technique to track the swimming motion of a single bacterium, researchers have discovered that the movement of the bacterium’s body — not just thrust from the flagellum — allow movement through fluids. The finding could shed new light on the evolution of cell body shape.

Click "so... Read More

Bacteria show surprising number of genetic paths to survival

A boy with cystic fibrosis develops a chronic and potentially deadly Burkholderia dolosa infection in his lungs. Varieties of genetic mutations allow some strains of the bacteria to survive the dual assaults from his immune system and antibiotics, while others perish. Eventually, the strongest m... Read More

Microbes Defy Rules of DNA Code

The instructions encoded into DNA are thought to follow a universal set of rules across all domains of life. But researchers report in the May 23 issue of Science that organisms routinely break these rules.

The finding has implications for the design of synthetic life: by designing organisms ... Read More

Engineers design ‘living materials’ - Hybrid materials combine bacterial cells with nonliving elements that can conduct electricity or emit light

Inspired by natural materials such as bone — a matrix of minerals and other substances, including living cells — MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots.

These “living materials” combin... Read More

UNC researchers discover new target for dengue virus vaccine

Using an experimental technique new to the dengue field, the labs of Ralph Baric, PhD, and Aravinda de Silva, PhD, showed that a molecular hinge where two regions of a protein connect is where natural human antibodies attach to dengue 3 to disable it. The finding, published in the Proceedings of... Read More

Chemists recruit anthrax to deliver cancer drugs

Bacillus anthracis bacteria have very efficient machinery for injecting toxic proteins into cells, leading to the potentially deadly infection known as anthrax. A team of MIT researchers has now hijacked that delivery system for a different purpose: administering cancer drugs.

“Anthrax toxin ... Read More

Fact or Fiction?: The Ebola Virus Will Go Airborne

Could Ebola go airborne? That’s the fear set off last week by a New York Times op-ed entitled “What We’re Afraid to Say about Ebola” from Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Although clinicians readily agree that th... Read More

Source: Flight en route to Liberia to evacuate Americans infected with Ebola

According to CNN,a long-range business jet with an isolation pod left the United States for Liberia, where it will evacuate two Americans infected with Ebola.

Twitter exploded with questions about the deadly virus, which according to the World Health Organization is believed to have killed hu... Read More

Yes! We have no bananas? It could actually happen

Banana lovers take note: The world's supply of the fruit is under attack from a fungus strain that could wipe out the popular variety that Americans eat. "It's a very serious situation," said Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida who in 1989 originally discove... Read More

Reduced glycopeptide and lipopeptide susceptibility in Staphylococcus aureus and the “seesaw effect”: Taking advantage of the back door left open?

Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) constitutes approximately 50% of clinical S. aureus isolates and is most commonly the result of production of a mutated pencillin-binding protein, PBP2a, which is able to carry out essential cell wall synthesis functions while maintaining a low-affinity for... Read More

Hacking Bacteria To Do Our Bidding: Photos

Scientists regularly tap into biological systems to find solutions for human problems. Although they work with plants and viruses in the lab, bacteria have many advantages as a starting point. When programmed in certain ways, bacteria can store data, clean dangerous waste, produce film-like imag... Read More

On Teaching

A graduate student came to my office recently to say that she was increasingly bothered by anxiety and the ‘terror’ of having to speak at laboratory meetings. She had also learned a month ago that she was expected to lecture to a class organized by her mentor. The thought of having to lecture to... Read More

Gut Bacteria Lose their Tails to Evade Antibodies

New research reveals the complex dynamic between gut bacteria and the immune system that keeps proteins from flagellin—bacterial tails—under control.

In healthy individuals, the only thing that separates the lining of the human gut from the some 100 trillion bacterial cells in the gastrointes... Read More

Tiny Algae Responsible for Mysterious Fossil Whale Graveyard?

Ever since a highway construction crew in Chile uncovered a fossil graveyard of some 40 prehistoric whales in 2010, with skeletons dating back more than five million years, scientists have wondered why so many giant animals died in one place. This week, a team of them proposed an answer: The hug... Read More

My First Radio Interview About Teaching, Research, and Microbial Supremacy...

The great folks at "The People Behind the Science" interviewed me over Skype in late July, and the interview has just been released as a podcast. I discuss my path through science, my thoughts on teaching, research at undergraduate institution, and how to motivate and inspire students to strive... Read More

Amber discovery indicates Lyme disease is older than human race

Lyme disease is a stealthy, often misdiagnosed disease that was only recognized about 40 years ago, but new discoveries of ticks fossilized in amber show that the bacteria which cause it may have been lurking around for 15 million years – long before any humans walked on Earth.

The findings w... Read More

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes wiped out in lab with genetic method that creates male-only offspring

Scientists have modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males, pioneering a fresh approach to eradicating malaria. Since 2000, increased prevention and control measures have reduced global malaria mortality rates by 42 per cent, but the disease remains a prevalent killer espec... Read More

ASM GM 2014 - The Effect of Pancreatic Cancer on the Oral Microbiome

In the United States, approximately 40,000 people die every year due to pancreatic adenocarcinoma, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer related death. Patients diagno... Read More

Microbiome in gut, mouth, and skin of low birth weight infants differentiate over first weeks after birth

Low birth weight infants are host to numerous microorganisms immediately after birth, and the microbiomes of their mouths and gut start out very similar but differentiate significantly by day 15 according to a study in mBio this week. Researchers from Stanford University and the University of Pi... Read More

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