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Algae: The Invisible Partner


Major development projects are taking place in oceans across the globe all the time, enterprises that will provide shelter and food for a vast number of fish, mussels, urchins, and other marine life.

While credit is regularly and duly given to the v... Read More

Microbial Mergers

Collaborations on a Minute Scale



Over millions of years of evolution, we humans have worked out a mutually beneficial partnership with the microbes that came to inhabit our guts. In ... Read More

DNA Disruptor

Viruses can act as miniature couriers. When they infect, they may inadvertently take up a bit of their host’s DNA and have it copied into their progeny. When the offspring viruses move on to infect new cells, they may insert this bit of accidentally pilfered DNA into the new hosts’ genome. This ... Read More

Contact

When viruses come into contact with host cells, they trigger the cells to engulf them, or fuse themselves to the cell membrane so they can release their DNA into the cell.

Once inside a host cell, viruses take over its machinery to reproduce. Viruses override the host cell’s normal functioni... Read More

What They Are

A virus is basically a tiny bundle of genetic material—either DNA or RNA—carried in a shell called the viral coat, or capsid, which is made up of bits of protein called capsomeres. Some viruses have an additional layer around this coat called an envelope. That's basically all there is to viru... Read More

Water Molds


Water molds are always found in wet environments, especially in fresh water sources and near the upper layers of moist soil.

Officially named Oomycota, they are also known as downy mildews and white rusts.

Water molds were long considered ... Read More

Single-minded Mission

Viruses exist for one purpose only: to reproduce. To do that, they have to take over the reproductive machinery of suitable host cells.


Upon landing on an appropriate host cell, a virus gets its genetic material inside the cell either by tricking the host cell to pull it inside, like ... Read More

Other Virus Like Things

Viruses may be referred to often as the smallest infectious things. But there are some smaller contenders. Some of the agents of plant disease lack even a viral coat and are merely small strings of plain, or "naked," RNA. These particles are called viroids. They are believed ... Read More

Where They Are Found


Viruses are found on or in just about every material and environment on Earth from soil to water to air. They're basically found anywhere there are cells to infect. Viruses have evolved to infect every form of life, from animal to plant and from fungi to bacter... Read More

What They Look Like


Fungi are eukaryotic organisms. This means that their DNA-containing chromosomes are enclosed within a nucleus inside their cells. (The chromosomes of bacteria and archaea are not walled off inside nuclei, making them prokaryotic organisms.)

Many dec... Read More

Viruses of Note


  • Adenoviruses are used in experimental gene therapy treatments to deliver therapeutic genes.



  • Bacteriophages are being explored as tools to treat bacterial infections by targeting and destroying infectious bacteria.


What They Look Like


Some archaea look like little rods or tiny balls, and some even get around like bacteria, using long hair- or whip-like appendages called flagella that stick out of their cell walls and act like a microscopic outboard motor to get them where they are going.

... Read More

Early Origins

Archaeans are among the earliest forms of life that appeared on Earth billions of years ago. It’s now generally believed that the archaea and bacteria developed separately from a common ancestor nearly 4 billion years ago. Millions of years later, the ancestors of today's eukaryotes split off... Read More

Hot! Hot! Hot! But How?

Ever been outside on a day so hot, you said to your friends, "I feel like I’m melting"? Well, of course you were exaggerating. But there are microbes called thermophiles <ther-mo-files>, or heat-lovers, that live in temperatures so hot, the microbes could actually melt if they hadn’t devel... Read More

Everyday Roles

Some people think it would be great if scientists could wipe out all the microbial bugs! Should we do it, and why or why not?


We get a lot of requests to track down the nasty bugs that are making people sick. It's true that some microbes cause health problems such as strep throat, chi... Read More

Where They Live

Our Challenge: Name at least three places microbes live. Can you think of any places that microbes might not live?


Read More

Beat that Cold

psychrophile2 Read More

How "Conan the Bacterium "Survives Lethal Radiation Blasts

When you go to the dentist to have your jaws X-rayed, you’ll notice that you have to wear a heavy lead apron—and the person who takes the X-ray leaves the room to do it. X-rays are safe, but these precautions give you some sense of how careful we have to be around even relatively harmless lev... Read More

Microbial Record Holders



The biggest of the big! The baddest of the bad! The oldest of the ancients! This is where you'll find all the microbial record holders, microbes that beat all others hands down in a variety of categories. This is our microbial Boo... Read More

Microbial Spore Formation

endospore... Read More

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