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Press release

December- 2018

Bacteria found in ancient Irish soil halts growth of superbugs: New hope for tackling antibiotic resistance

     Researchers analyzing soil from Ireland long thought to have medicinal properties have discovered that it contains a previously unknown strain of bacteria which is effective against four of the top six superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs could kill up to 1.3 million people in Europe by 2050, according to recent research. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the problem as 'one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.'

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Fish bones yield new tool for tracking coal ash contamination

     A new study shows that trace elements found in fish ear bones can be used as biogenic tracers to track coal ash contamination. Strontium isotope ratios in the otoliths of fish collected from two lakes that received coal ash effluents matched strontium isotope ratios in contaminated pore water samples from the lakes' bottoms. This marks the first time strontium isotope ratios have been used as fingerprints to track coal ash's impacts in living organisms.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Climate change affects breeding birds

     The breeding seasons of wild house finches are shifting due to climate change, a Washington State University researcher has found. The effect of climate change on the breeding season of birds has been documented before, but in a limited context. Heather Watts, an avian physiologist, reported her finding in Ibis, the International Journal of Avian Science.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Flows that help bacteria feed and organize biofilms

     Under threat of being scrubbed away with disinfectant, individual bacteria can improve their odds of survival by joining together to form colonies, called biofilms. What Arnold Mathijssen, postdoctoral fellow in bioengineering at Stanford University, wanted to understand was how stationary biofilms find food once they've devoured nearby nutrients.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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November- 2018

Threatened tropical coral reefs form complex, ancient associations with bacteria

     When it comes to the well-being of coral reefs, for many years scientists focused on bleaching, an event that can endanger corals and the diverse marine ecosystems that they support. In bleaching, high temperatures or other stressors cause corals to expel Symbiodinium, the beneficial, brightly colored microbes that would normally share excess energy and nutrients with corals. Bleaching ultimately starves corals and endangers the entire reef ecosystem.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Bursting bubbles launch bacteria from water to air

     A new study shows how bubbles contaminated with bacteria can act as tiny microbial grenades, bursting and launching microorganisms, including potential pathogens, out of the water and into the air.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Gut bacteria may control movement

     The World Health Organization (WHO) considers Pseudomonas aeruginosa a germ requiring urgent action to prevent and control its spread. The bacteria can cause a variety of diseases from chronic lung infections to sepsis. As a result of its increasing resistance to many antibiotics, such infections are often life-threatening. Instead of trying to develop a new antibiotic to combat Pseudomonas aeruginosa, chemist Dr Thomas Böttcher and his team in Konstanz have focused their research efforts on inhibiting virulence factors in the germ. These include toxins and other agents which benefit the infection process. To this aim, the research team developed a technique which is able to measure the inhibition of enzymes directly in a living cell. The method is described in the current issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Nutrient-recycling microbes may feel the heat

     While microbial communities are the engines driving the breakdown of dead plants and animals, little is known about whether they are equipped to handle big changes in climate. In a new study, researchers examine what happens after microbial communities move into new climate conditions. The study is a first step toward understanding the vulnerability of these ecosystems to climate change.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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October- 2018

Gut bacteria may control movement

     A new study puts a fresh spin on what it means to "go with your gut." The findings, published in Nature, suggest that gut bacteria may control movement in fruit flies and identify the neurons involved in this response. The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Fertilizers' impact on soil health compared

     Ekrem Ozlu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his team studied two fields in South Dakota. From 2003 to 2015, the research team applied either manure or inorganic fertilizer to field plots growing corn and soybeans. They used low, medium, and high manure levels, and medium and high inorganic fertilizer levels. They also had a control treatment of no soil additives to provide a comparison.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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At last, a simple way to solve the complex mysteries of the microbiome

     This much is clear: The tiny bacteria that live on and inside us are tremendously important for our health and well-being, affecting everything from our mood to the risk of autism. But understanding how those multitudes of microbes interact and how they influence human health is a gargantuan task, akin to counting the grains of sand on a beach.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Commandeering microbes pave way for synthetic biology in military environments

     A team of scientists from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed and demonstrated a pioneering synthetic biology tool to deliver DNA programming into a broad range of bacteria.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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September- 2018

Vampire bats found to carry infectious bacteria at high rates

     Bartonella are bacteria that cause endocarditis, a potentially life-threatening illness in humans and domestic animals. In Latin America, common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) are frequently infected by Bartonella, and their subsistence on blood creates a risk for bacterial transmission from bats to humans and livestock. A study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases by Daniel Becker at Montana State University in Bozeman, found Bartonella infections in vampire bats are highly prevalent in Peru and Belize, and that Bartonella genotypes are distributed widely, rather than clustered geographically.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Young children's oral bacteria may predict obesity

     Weight gain during early childhood is related to the composition of oral bacteria of two-year-old children, suggesting this understudied aspect of a children's collection of microorganisms could serve as an early indicator for childhood obesity.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Colon cancer is caused by bacteria and cell stress

     Scientists have made an unexpected discovery while investigating the triggering factors of colon cancer: Cell stress in combination with an altered microbiota in the colon drives tumor growth. Previously, it was assumed that this combination only contributes to inflammatory intestinal diseases.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Targeting this key bacterial molecule could reduce the need for antibiotics

     Antibiotic overuse can lead to resistance and impacts on the natural bacteria that share our bodies, called the microbiome, said study co-leader Lynette Cegelski, an associate professor of chemistry at Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences. "There are many ways to target disease and if you just target a specific bacterium's virulence strategies, you could still prevent infection and also eliminate the total insult to your microbiome," she added.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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August- 2018

Chips, light and coding moves the front line in beating bacteria

     Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has produced alarming headlines in recent years, with the prospect of commonly prescribed treatments becoming obsolete setting off alarm bells in the medical establishment.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

     In a new study, biologists describe some of the unique characteristics of the protein Dps, which protects bacteria like E. coli and makes it so resilient. This could lead to more targeted antibiotics to fight urinary tract infections, food poisoning, and Crohn's disease.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Southern California coast emerges as a toxic algae hot spot

     The Southern California coast harbors some of the world's highest concentrations of an algal toxin perilous to wildlife and people. The most thoroughgoing assessment of the problem shows it's getting worse due to humanmade and natural conditions.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Air pollution reduces global life expectancy by more than one year

      Air pollution shortens human lives by more than a year, according to a new study from a team of leading environmental engineers and public health researchers. Better air quality could lead to a significant extension of lifespans around the world.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Microbes hitch a ride inland on coastal fog

     Fog can act as a vector for microbes, transferring them long distances and introducing them into new environments. So reports an analysis of the microbiology of coastal fog, recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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July- 2018

Climate change-driven droughts are getting hotter, study finds

      In a new study, researchers report that temperatures during droughts have been rising faster than in average climates in recent decades, and they point to concurrent changes in atmospheric water vapor as a driver of the surge.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Gut bacteria byproduct protects against Salmonella, study finds

     Researchers have identified a molecule that serves as natural protection against one of the most common intestinal pathogens, Salmonella.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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In the ocean's twilight zone, tiny organisms may have giant effect on Earth's carbon cycle

      In a new study that challenges scientists' presuppositions about the carbon cycle, researchers find that tiny organisms may be playing in outside role in the way carbon is circulated throughout the ocean.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Swimming bacteria work together to go with the flow

      Swimming bacteria can reduce the viscosity of ordinary liquids like water and make them flow more easily, sometimes down to the point where the viscosity becomes zero: the flow is then frictionless.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Intestinal virus study shows major changes associated with inflammatory bowel disease

     Unexpected patterns emerged in the microbial and viral communities of mice with intestinal inflammation during a study that examined the intestinal tracts of diseased and healthy mice. Spearheaded by researchers at North Carolina State University, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Colorado, the study could lead to better understanding of potential causes and markers of inflammatory bowel disease.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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June- 2018

Scientists create 'genetic atlas' of proteins in human blood

      An international team of researchers has created the first detailed genetic map of human proteins, the key building blocks of biology. These discoveries promise to enhance our understanding of a wide range of diseases and aid development of new drugs.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Link between bacteria metabolism and communication could pave way for new drugs

     Researchers have discovered a link between bacteria metabolism and cell-to-cell communication, potentially providing a target for new antivirulence and antibiofilm drugs.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Immunization with beneficial bacteria makes brain more stress resilient

     Rats immunized weekly for three weeks with beneficial bacteria showed increased levels of anti-inflammatory proteins in the brain, more resilience to the physical effects of stress, and less anxiety-like behavior. If replicated in humans, researchers say the findings could lead to novel microbiome-based immunizations for mood disorders like anxiety and PTSD.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Organic insect deterrent for agriculture

      Traditional insecticides are killers: they not only kill pests, they also endanger bees and other beneficial insects, as well as affecting biodiversity in soils, lakes, rivers and seas. A team has now developed an alternative: A biodegradable agent that keeps pests at bay without poisoning them.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Large-scale study indicates novel, abundant nitrogen-fixing microbes in surface ocean

       A large-scale study of the Earth's surface ocean indicates the microbes responsible for fixing nitrogen there previously thought to be almost exclusively photosynthetic cyanobacteria include an abundant and widely distributed suite of non-photosynthetic bacterial populations.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Nano-decorations in nature's subsurface water filter

      When bacteria and viruses get into well water and make people sick, often the contamination comes after heavy rain or flooding. In 2000, more than 2,300 people in Walkerton, Ontario, got sick when, after unusually heavy rains. E. coli bacteria found their way to drinking water wells. Seven people died.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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May- 2018

Complementing conventional antibiotics

      Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major medical problem worldwide, impacting both human health and economic well-being. Scientists have now developed a new strategy for fighting bacteria. The scientists revealed the molecular action mechanism of a Legionella toxin and developed a first inhibitor.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Blood type affects severity of diarrhea caused by E. coli

      A new study shows that a kind of E. coli most associated with 'travelers' diarrhea' and children in underdeveloped areas of the world causes more severe disease in people with blood type A. The bacteria release a protein that latches onto intestinal cells in people with blood type A, but not blood type O or B, according to a new study.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Exploration of diverse bacteria signals big advance for gene function prediction

      Scientists have developed a workflow that enables large-scale, genome-wide assays of gene importance across many conditions. The study, 'Mutant Phenotypes for Thousands of Bacterial Genes of Unknown Function,' has been published in the journal Nature and is by far the largest functional genomics study of bacteria ever published.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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How the gut influences neurologic disease

       A study sheds new light on the connection between the gut and the brain, untangling the complex interplay that allows the byproducts of microorganisms living in the gut to influence the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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New lineage of microbes living in Yellowstone sheds light on origin of life

      Scientists have found a new lineage of microbes living in Yellowstone National Park's thermal features that sheds light on the origin of life, the evolution of archaeal life and the importance of iron in early life.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Dietary seaweed used to manipulate gut bacteria in mice

      Scientists working with laboratory mice have shown that it's possible to favor the engraftment of one gut bacterial strain over others by manipulating the mice's diet. The researchers also have shown it's possible to control how much a bacterium grows in the intestine by calibrating the amount of a specific carbohydrate in each mouse's water or food.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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A gut bacterium's guide to building a microbiome

       Many studies have linked the gut microbiome to health and disease. New research reveals mechanisms utilized by gut bacteria to assemble a microbiome in the first place.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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April- 2018

Newly identified bacteria may help bees nourish their young

       Researchers have isolated three previously unknown bacterial species from wild bees and flowers. The bacteria, which belong to the genus Lactobacillus, may play a role in preserving the nectar and pollen that female bees store in their nests as food for their larvae.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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The microbiome of a native plant is much more resilient than expected

      The microbiome, which consists of all microorganisms that live on or in plants, animals and also humans, is important for the health and development of these organisms. Scientists investigated how a plant responds to manipulations of its microbial associations. The results indicate that the enormous bacterial diversity residing in natural soils may account for the stability of the plant-microbiome relationship.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Found: A new form of DNA in our cells

      In a world first, researchers have identified a new DNA structure called the i-motif inside cells. A twisted 'knot' of DNA, the i-motif has never before been directly seen inside living cells.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Researchers assassinate disease-causing bacteria with virus cocktail

       Researchers have succeeded in targeting and killing E. coli without causing harm to the surrounding community of commensal bacteria in a simulated small intestinal microbiome using a cocktail of viruses (bacteriophages). The study proved that this approach is as effective as using broad-spectrum antibiotics. The experiment underlines the potential of using bacteriophages for target-specific manipulation of complex microbial communities and potentially replacing or supplementing usage of antibiotics against bacterial diseases.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Scientists find link between increases in local temperature and antibiotic resistance

      Bacteria have long been thought to develop antibiotic resistance largely due to repeated exposure through over-prescribing. But could much bigger environmental pressures be at play?

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Restricting unwanted immune reactions

       Researchers have decoded a mechanism found at the beginning of almost every inflammatory response. Their study provides a new approach to develop novel treatment options for many inflammatory disorders with many fewer side effects compared to current drugs.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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March- 2018

A new direction for halting the citrus greening epidemic

       New clues to how the bacteria associated with citrus greening infect the only insect that carries them could lead to a way to block the microbes' spread from tree to tree, according to a new study.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Fixing soybean's need for nitrogen

        To make protein, soybean plants need a lot of nitrogen. Beneficial bacteria in root nodules typically assist. A new study shows it's possible to increase the number of soybean root nodules--and the bacteria that live there--to further increase crop yields. This could remove the need to apply additional nitrogen fertilizers.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Low-tech, affordable solutions to improve water quality

      Most of us are used to turning on a tap and water coming out. We rarely question whether this will happen or whether the water is clean enough to bathe in or drink. Though the process of maintaining water quality is practically invisible to most of us, removing bacteria and contaminants from water requires a lot of effort from both humans and treatment systems alike.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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Climate models need to take into account the interaction between methane, the Arctic Ocean and ice

       On the seafloor of the shallow coastal regions north of Siberia, microorganisms produce methane when they break down plant remains. If this greenhouse gas finds its way into the water, it can also become trapped in the sea ice that forms in these coastal waters. As a result, the gas can be transported thousands of kilometres across the Arctic Ocean and released in a completely different region months later. This phenomenon is the subject of an article by researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, published in the current issue of the online journal Scientific Reports. Although this interaction between methane, ocean and ice has a significant influence on climate change, to date it has not been reflected in climate models.

Source: sciencedaily

 

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Soil fungi may help determine the resilience of forests to environmental change

        Nature is rife with symbiotic relationships, some of which take place out of sight, like the rich underground exchange of nutrients that occurs between trees and soil fungi.

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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CRISPR genetic editing takes another big step forward, targeting RNA

        "Bioengineers are like nature's detectives, searching for clues in patterns of DNA to help solve the mysteries of genetic diseases," says Patrick Hsu, a Helmsley-Salk Fellow and senior author of the new paper. "CRISPR has revolutionized genome engineering, and we wanted to expand the toolbox from DNA to RNA."

Source: sciencedaily

 

 

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February- 2018

Humpback microbiome linked to seasonal, environmental changes

       The study, which is the largest-ever of the whale microbiome, shows that monitoring whale’s skin microbes could offer a way to assess their health and nutrition over different seasons and environmental circumstances, and also to detect how they are affected by climate change and human-caused impacts on ocean ecosystems. The paper published, in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Source: phys

Image Credit: David W. Johnston, Duke University. The research was authorized by NOAA permit #808-735 and Antarctic Conservation Act permit #2009-14.

 

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Problems with herbicide-resistant weeds become crystal clear

       Penoxsulam (in yellow) binds to the surface of the enzyme (acetohydroxyacid synthase) in the weed and control them. Penoxsulam is a leading herbicide for crop protection especially for rice (background) and wheat.

Source: phys

Image Credit: University of Queensland

 

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Genetic study of soil organisms reveals new family of antibiotics

       A team of researchers at Rockefeller University has discovered a new family of antibiotics by conducting a genetic study of a wide range of soil microorganism antibiotics. In their paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the group describes their study and how well samples of the new antibiotic worked in rats.

Source: phys

Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain

 

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Scientists identify factors which drive the evolution of herbicide resistance

       Scientists from the University of Sheffield have identified factors which are driving the evolution of herbicide resistance in crops - something which could also have an impact on medicine as well as agriculture. Xenobiotic chemicals, such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and antibiotics, are used in both agriculture and healthcare to manage pests and diseases. However, resistance has evolved to all these types of xenobiotics, rendering them ineffective with serious consequences for crop production and health. The new study, led by researchers from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, gives an important insight into how we can learn from past management of agricultural systems to reduce the likelihood of resistance evolving in the future.

Source: phys

Image Credit: Rothamsted Research

 

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Giant viruses may play an intriguing role in evolution of life on Earth

       In a new study, a University of Iowa biologist identified a virus family whose set of genes is similar to that of eukaryotes, an organism classification that includes all plants and animals. The finding is important because it helps clarify how eukaryotes evolved after branching from prokaryotes some 2 billion years ago.

Source: phys

Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain

 

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January- 2018

Scientists elucidate the mechanism for inserting protein molecules into the outer compartment of mitochondria

       Researchers at the University of Freiburg have succeeded in describing how so-called beta-barrel proteins are inserted into the membranes of mitochondria. The proteins enable mitochondria to import and export molecules. With this discovery, the team led by Prof. Dr. Nils Wiedemann and Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner, in cooperation with the group of Prof. Dr. Carola Hunte, has clarified a fundamental question of protein biochemistry. The findings are published in the journal Science.

Source: phys

Image Credit: Christophe Wirth

 

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A non-tailed twist in the viral tale

       Viruses that contain a tail structure are the most common type of bacterium-infecting virus (bacteriophage) cultured in the laboratory or represented in DNA databases. However, in samples taken from marine environments, non-tailed viruses are more common. Kauffman et al report a previously unknown family of non-tailed marine viruses. a, T4, an example of a tailed virus. Its 169-kilobase genome is enclosed in a capsid structure, made of protein (dark purple), that is 111 nanometres long. The average capsid length for tailed marine viruses is 65 nm. The tail structures in certain other types of tailed virus have a different shape from that of T4. b, The cortovirus PM2, one of the few non-tailed marine bacteriophages identified so far. PM2 has lipid (yellow) associated with its capsid. Non-tailed marine viruses have an average capsid size of 54 nm. c, An autolykivirus, a member of a family of non-tailed marine viruses identified by Kauffman et al. The properties of these bacteriophages are consistent with the presence of lipid.

Source: nature

 

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Neuronal plasticity in nematode worms

       Hart and Hobert examined the neuron DVB in nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans). They report that, between days one and five of adulthood in male worms, DVB grows towards, and makes synaptic connections onto, spicule protractor muscles and the spicule neuron SPC, which control a male-specific mating behaviour involving movement of a structure called the spicule. This outgrowth is regulated, at least in part, by two cell-adhesion proteins: neurexin is expressed by DVB and promotes outgrowth; and neuroligin is expressed by the spicule protractor muscles and SPC, and inhibits outgrowth. The authors show that the expression of neuroligin is repressed when the male undergoes copulatory behaviours, activating these muscles and SPC — DVB outgrowth is therefore activity dependent.

Source: nature

 

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Hijacker parasite blocked from infiltrating blood

       A major international collaboration led by Melbourne researchers has discovered that the world's most widespread malaria parasite infects humans by hijacking a protein the body cannot live without. The researchers were then able to successfully develop antibodies that disabled the parasite from carrying out this activity.

Source: phys

Image Credit: Dr Drew Berry, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

 

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Ultrasound approach tracks gut microbes

       Bourdeau et al. genetically engineered bacteria to express what they term acoustic response genes (ARG), which encode the components of hollow structures called gas vesicles that scatter sound waves and generate an echo that can be detected by ultrasound. Pressure-pulse application causes gas-vesicle collapse and disappearance of the ultrasound signal, which can be used to improve signal detection when tracking the location of cells containing gas vesicles. This approach enables in vivo monitoring of a cell population deep within the mouse gut that cannot be tracked by light microscopy. b, The authors engineered two types of gas vesicle (red and blue) that collapse at different pressure-pulse levels, enabling cells containing these vesicles to be distinguished using ultrasound. One possible application of this work might be to introduce two bacterial strains that each contain one type of these gas vesicles into a mouse. This would enable non-invasive in vivo temporal and spatial monitoring of the dynamics of two distinct bacterial populations in the gut in regions such as the small intestine or colon.

Source: nature

 

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Ocean thermometer from the past

       Measurements of noble gases trapped in the ice core have been used to construct a record of global mean ocean temperatures 22,000–8,000 years ago.

Source: nature

Image Credit: Anais Orsi/WAIS-Divide SCO

 

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