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
Recently, the American Academy of Microbiology released a new report, Viruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change Agents that delves into the origin of viruses, the overlooked biological and microbial ecological role of viruses, and how these live forms have contributed to evolution. T... Read More
When most people look at soil, they just see dirt. When I look at soil, I see billions of microorganisms crawling atop one another, consuming the dead in a feasting frenzy that stops for nothing save a deep freeze. I see microbes and their enzymes, the digestive juices that break down, transform... Read More
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine studying a potentially deadly parasitic infection have discovered a previously unknown way that human cells are killed, with the parasitic amoeba essentially nibbling cells to death – as a piranha might attack its prey.
Until now, r... Read More
Washing down sugary breakfast cereal with milk after eating reduces plaque acid levels and may prevent damage to tooth enamel that leads to cavities, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. Read More
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
We continue our semi-annual ritual and post this quick tour of our featured blog posts published since June 2013.
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
Bacteria could mop up naturally-occurring and man-made leaks of natural gases before they are released into the atmosphere and cause global warming - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
Findings published today in the journal Nature shows how a single bacterial strai... Read More
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
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
A common plant puts out a welcome mat to bacteria seeking to invade, and scientists have discovered the mat's molecular mix. The study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals new targets during the battle between microbe and host that researchers can ex... Read More
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
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
The technique addresses the problem of hidden reservoirs of HIV in the body, and could herald a new way of battling the viral infection.
Once HIV invades the body, it doesn’t want to leave. Every strategy that scientists have developed or are developing so far to fight the virus – from powerf... Read More
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
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
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
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
For hospital workers an outbreak of harmful bacteria in the wards is a nightmare, but what gives bacteria nightmares?
Perhaps the prospect of being eaten alive by a kind of viral parasite called a bacteriophage (bacteria eater): unlike antibiotics, which some bacteria have evolved a resistanc... Read More
The joys of anaerobic digestion
One U.K. grocery store plans to power itself using biogas harvested from its own unsold, rotting produce. Yum.
A Sainsbury's store in Cannock in central England is getting access to anaerobic digesters. The store plans to use electricity solely from the dige... Read More