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Interesting facts about Microorganisms

May - 2017

Antibiotic-resistant microbes date back to 450 million years ago, well before the age of dinosaurs

        According to a new study led by researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, "superbugs" known as the enterococci, arose from an ancestor that dates back 450 million years about the time when animals were first crawling onto land (and well before the age of dinosaurs). Published in the journal Cell, the study authors shed light on the evolutionary history of these pathogens, which evolved nearly indestructible properties and have become leading causes of modern antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals.

Source: phys

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Pathogenic bacteria train their defence in lakes and oceans

        Peter Mathisen at Umeå University has found links between the aquatic environment and the spreading of diseases such as tularaemia. The results indicate that aquatic environments act as "gyms" for bacteria, where the presence of predators train their defense against being killed and eaten up. The results are important for assessments of aquatic environments at risk of spreading pathogenic bacteria.

Source: phys

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Bioinspired agent kills drug-resistant bacteria

        Researchers in Ireland have developed a bioinspired antimicrobial treatment that can rapidly kill drug-resistant bacteria. The treatment consists of iodo-thiocyanate complexes, which are inspired by enzymes and reactive molecules produced by our immune system.

Source: phys

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April - 2017

Gut bacteria tell the brain what animals should eat

        Neuroscientists have, for the first time, shown that gut bacteria "speak" to the brain to control food choices in animals. In a study published in the Open Access journal PLOS Biology, researchers had identified two species of bacteria that have an impact on animal dietary decisions. The investigation was led by Carlos Ribeiro, and colleagues from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal and Monash University, Australia.

Source: phys

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Venus' hair found growing on the surface of underwater volcano after eruption

        A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain and Italy studying the aftermath of the eruption of the Tagoro underwater volcano in 2011 and 2012 has found that colonies of bacteria living in filaments attached to the volcano surface (named Thiolava veneris which is Lation for Venus hair) were the first organisms to colonize the volcano after the eruption.

Source: phys

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Caterpillar found to eat shopping bags, suggesting biodegradable solution to plastic pollution

        Scientists have found that a caterpillar commercially bred for fishing bait has the ability to biodegrade polyethylene: one of the toughest and most used plastics frequently found clogging up landfill sites in the form of plastic shopping bags.

Source: phys

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Bacteriophages, natural drugs to combat superbugs

        Viruses that specifically kill bacteria, called bacteriophages, might one day help solve the growing problem of bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatment. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center have determined that phages can effectively reduce bacterial levels and improve the health of mice that are infected with deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacterial 'superbugs.'

Source: phys

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Using rooster testes to learn how the body fights viruses

        Our bodies are constantly under siege by foreign invaders; viruses, bacteria and parasites that want to infiltrate our cells. Using rooster testes, scientists shed light on how germ cells, sperm and egg, protect themselves from viruses so that they can pass accurate genetic information to the next generation. The findings could help researchers better fight viruses in chickens and in people. Credit: University of Rochester Medical Center.

Source: phys

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Young human blood makes old mice smarter

        A protein found in young human blood plasma can improve brain function in old mice. The finding was published in Nature. It is the first time a human protein has been shown to have this effect. It is also the latest evidence that infusions of ‘young blood’ can reverse symptoms of ageing, including memory loss, decrease in muscle function and metabolism, and loss of bone structure.

Source: nature

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March - 2017

Prehistoric ancestor of leukaemia virus found in bats

        Ancient DNA traces from the family of viruses that cause a rare type of leukaemia have been found in the genomes of bats, filling the "last major gap" in retrovirus fossil record. The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was conducted by the University of Glasgow and The Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, offered conclusive evidence that these viruses are between 20 and 45 million years old. The findings represented the first concrete piece of evidence that the 'Deltaretrovirus' group had a truly ancient origin in mammals. The results also offer key insights to the characteristics of these viruses and would allow scientists to better understand them in the future.

Source: phys

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A light rain can spread soil bacteria far and wide, study finds

        A good rain can have a cleansing effect on the land. But an MIT study published in Nature Communications reports that, under the right conditions, rain can also be a means of spreading bacteria. Using high-resolution imaging, researchers from MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering observed the effect of raindrops falling on dry soil laden with bacteria. When falling at speeds mimicking those of a light rain, at temperatures similar to those in tropical regions, the drops released a spray of mist, or aerosols. Each aerosol carried up to several thousand bacteria from the soil. The researchers found the bacteria remained alive for more than an hour afterward.

Source: phys

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Zika may be spread by 35 species of mosquitoes, researchers say

        Zika may be spread by as many as 35 species of mosquitoes, including seven found in the United States, according to a predictive model created by University of Georgia ecologists and published Tuesday in the journal, eLife.

Source: phys

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February - 2017

New tool for combating mosquito-borne disease: Insect parasite genes

        Wolbachia is the most successful parasite the world has ever known. You've never heard of it because it only infects bugs: millions upon millions of species of insects, spiders, centipedes and other arthropods all around the globe. The secret to the over-achieving bacterium's success is its ability to hijack its hosts' reproduction. Biologists have known that Wolbachia have had this power for more than 40 years but only now have teams of biologists from Vanderbilt and Yale Universities identified the specific genes that confer this remarkable capability.

Source: phys

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January- 2017

Retroviruses 'almost half a billion years old'

        Retroviruses - the family of viruses that includes HIV - are almost half a billion years old, according to new research by scientists at Oxford University. That's several hundred million years older than previously thought and suggests retroviruses have ancient marine origins, having been with their animal hosts through the evolutionary transition from sea to land.

Source: phys

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Secret new weapon of insect-transmitted viruses exposed

        Secret new weapon of insect-transmitted viruses exposed. The scientists uncovered molecular mechanisms that the cucumber mosaic virus uses to manipulate plants to make them release odors that attract aphids, which transmit the virus. The work was published Jan. 6 in the journal Cell Research.

Source: phys

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New insights into 'master regulator' of cell division overturn textbook explanation

        An image of fission yeast cells in the process of cell division. Fission yeast cells are related to human cells but are much simpler, making experiments faster and easier to interpret. Importantly, many of the key discoveries in cell biology occur in yeast before being confirmed in humans. Credit: The Francis Crick Institute

Source: phys

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Scientists crack the structure of HIV machinery

        Salk Institute scientists have solved the atomic structure of a key piece of machinery that allows HIV to integrate into human host DNA and replicate in the body, which has eluded researchers for decades. The findings describing this machinery, known as the "intasome," appear January 6, 2017, in Science and yield structural clues informing the development of new HIV drugs.

Source: phys

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Researchers discover new mechanism for Type IV pili retraction in Vibrio cholera

        Type IV pili, essential for many pathogens to cause disease, are hair-like appendages that grow out of and are retracted back into bacteria cells, enabling them to move and adhere to surfaces. Although pathogenic bacteria often rely on a specialized molecular motor to retract their pili, a new study in PLOS Pathogens reveals that a minor pilin protein elicits pilus retraction in the cholera bacterium, Vibrio cholerae.

Source: phys

 

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December- 2016

How single-celled organisms navigate to oxygen

        A team of researchers have discovered that tiny clusters of single-celled organisms that inhabit the world's oceans and lakes, are capable of navigating their way to oxygen. Writing in e-Life scientists at the University of Cambridge describe how choanaflagellates, the closest relatives of animals, form small colonies that can sense a large range of concentrations of oxygen in the water. The research offers clues as to how these organisms evolved into multi-cellular ones.

Source: phys

 

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Mice eating a low-fibre diet have a higher risk of bowel infection, thanks to bacteria that normally live in the gut

        Eric Martens at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and Mahesh Desai, now at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, together with their colleagues, compared the effects of fibre-poor and fibre-rich diets in mice that lacked their own bacteria and were given a mix of 14 species of human gut bacteria. These microbes normally consume carbohydrates from dietary fibre, but without these nutrients, the bacteria instead degraded the mucus barrier that lines the intestinal wall.Thinning of this protective layer (pictured as indicated by white arrows in the right panel; left panel shows normal layer) exposed the intestinal surface to attack by disease-causing bacteria. More than half of the mice eating a low-fibre diet lost at least 20% of their body weight after infection with the pathogen Citrobacter rodentium.

Source: nature

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The truth about the five-second rule, according to scientists

        The ‘five-second rule’ – a folkloric guideline on the time it is considered safe to eat food dropped on the floor – has been debunked by a new study. Four different surfaces and food types were used in the experiment. Watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy were dropped on surfaces of stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet for less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds. The surfaces were contaminated with a bacterium similar to salmonella. A total of 2,560 measurements were taken with all the different food, surface and time combinations.

Source: independent

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Skin bacteria could protect against disease

        There are more and more examples of the ways in which we can benefit from our bacteria. According to researcher Rolf Lood from Lund University in Sweden, this is true for the skin as well. He has shown that the most common bacteria on human skin secrete a protein which protects us from the reactive oxygen species thought to contribute to several skin diseases. The protein has an equally strong effect on dangerous oxygen species as known antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E.

Source: phys

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November- 2016

Bacteria behave differently on International Space Station

        Altered Extracellular Model. Biomolecular model based on the gene expression data analyses support the reduction of glucose molecules (blue gradient) and acid buildup (gold gradient) proposed to occur in the boundary layer around the cell. This altered extracellular environment has been hypothesized to result as an effect of reduced gravity-driven forces acting on the cell-fluid system and has been put forth as the biophysical mechanism governing bacterial behavior in space. Blue circles indicate overexpression of genes associated with metabolism, while gold circles represent the overexpression of acidic condition genes.

Source: sciencedaily

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Fungi boost bacterium

        Benjamin Wolfe at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and his colleagues examined the relative abundance of Staphylococcus bacteria (three species pictured), which are common in cheese. They found that Staphylococcus equorum dominated, despite being the slowest grower in lab tests. In the presence of fungi of the genus Scopulariopsis, S. equorum lowered its expression of genes involved in iron uptake and metabolism. The fungi could be providing the bacterium with freely available iron needed for growth, saving S. equorum the effort of acquiring and processing the nutrient, and allowing it to outcompete other bacteria. Fungi could be influencing the diversity of other bacterial communities, including those in humans, the authors say.

Source: nature

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Engineers design a new weapon against bacteria

        A team of researchers at MIT, the University of Brasilia, and the University of British Columbia has now engineered an antimicrobial peptide that can destroy many types of bacteria, including some that are resistant to most antibiotics.

Source: sciencedaily

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HOOKED

        Marinomonas primoryensis (about 1.5μm in length without the flagellum) latches onto ice floes in the Antarctic Ocean.

Source: the-scientist

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October- 2016

Ancient microbe fossils show earliest evidence of shell making

        Roughly 809-million-year-old microbe fossils, such as this one found in Canada, may be the oldest evidence of organisms creating minerals for protection against predators. The shells take many shapes, including this honeycomb pattern.

Source: sciencenews

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The Seaweed Holobiont

        The oxygen generated via photosynthesis by the seaweed and the presence of a source of carbon-rich constituents from macroalgal cell walls, turn the algae’s surface into a good microenvironment for a bunch of different microorganisms.

Source: fems

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Amazing world of Microbes: Some Unbelievable facts about Microorganisms

        Beef tapeworm is the largest parasite (which causes taeniasis in human), which can easily grow 7½ meters or 25 feet long!.

Source: microbeonline

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New analysis of big data sheds light on cell functions

        Researchers have developed a new way of obtaining useful information from big data in biology to better understand—and predict—what goes on inside a cell. Using genome-scale models, researchers were able to integrate multiple different data sets and discovered new biological patterns among different cellular processes. The research, led by bioengineers at the University of California San Diego, was published online Oct. 26 in Nature Communications.

Source: phys

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September- 2016

Computers learn to spot deadly bacteria

        Machine learning can predict strains of bacteria likely to cause food poisoning outbreaks, research has found. The study -- which focused on harmful strains of E. coli bacteria -- could help public health officials to target interventions and reduce risk to human health. The researchers used software that compares genetic information from bacterial samples isolated from both animals and people.

Source: phys

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More than 7 million bacterial genes in the pig gut

        An international consortium of researchers from INRA (France), University of Copenhagen and SEGES (Denmark), BGI-Shenzhen (China) and NIFES (Norway) has now established the first catalogue of bacterial genes in the gut of pigs. This achievement is published in the latest issue of Nature Microbiology. The researchers identified 7.7 million genes and identified a large number of known and unknown bacteria. The results showed clear country dependent differences, reflecting differences in farm systems and antibiotics supplementation. The results further illustrate how age, gender, and pig genetics are associated with differences in the composition of bacteria in the gut.

Source: phys

 

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Poisonous, cancer-fighting, glow-in-the-dark 'ghost fungus' enchants Border photographers

        In the dead of night at the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, an elusive glow-in-the-dark fungus has been enchanting photographers.

Source: britmycolsoc

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August- 2016

New technique shows protein changes in intact microbial communities

        By looking at how microbial proteins are modified over time, scientists can begin to understand changes in the broader community. The protein changes, or post-translational modifications (PTMs), occur in response to a sensed environmental cue. These alterations create rippling signal cascades, often leading to pervasive changes in the organism's growth and behavior. Although scientists have studied this regulatory mechanism extensively in individual organisms, its role at the scale of a complex community remains poorly understood. A new technique resulting from this study allows PTM analysis in proteins collected from an intact microbial community. This type of analysis allows scientists to link PTMs to larger, community-scale attributes that can be readily identified. They can translate these attributes into broader changes in biological processes in different environments.

Source: phys

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Bacteria supply their allies with munitions

        Bacteria fight their competitors with molecular spear guns, the so-called Type VI secretion system. When firing this weapon they also unintentionally hit their own kind. The T6SS is firmly attached to the bacterial cell envelop. The tiny spear with a sharp tip is surrounded by a flexible sheath. "When bacteria fire their spear guns, the sheath rapidly contracts in just a few milliseconds and ejects the spear out of the cell into by-standing bacteria," says Basler describing the mechanism. "The attackers then recycle the harpoon proteins remaining in the cell." In this maneuver, the bacteria also hit related bacterial strains that do the same as the attackers: They disassemble the harpoon into their protein components and reuse these for new T6SS assembly.

Source: phys

 

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Discovery of an ape virus in an Indonesian rodent species

        The gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV) is a medically important tool in cancer therapies. GALV is a retrovirus pathogenic to its host species, the southeast Asian lar gibbon (Hylobates lar) and thought to have originated from a cross-species transmission and may not originally be a primate virus at all. An international research team screened a wide range of rodents from southeast Asia for GALV-like sequences. The discovery of a new GALV in the grassland melomys (Melomys burtoni) from Indonesian New Guinea supports the hypothesis that this host species, and potentially related rodent lineages in Australia and Papua New Guinea, may have played a key role in the spread of GALV-like viruses.

Source: sciencedaily

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Researchers succeed in developing a genome editing technique that does not cleave DNA

        A research team has succeeded in developing 'Target-AID', a genome editing technique that does not cleave the DNA. The technique offers, through high-level editing operation, a method to address the existing issues of genome editing. It is expected that the technique will be applied to gene therapy in the future in addition to providing a powerful tool for breeding useful organisms and conducting disease and drug-discovery research.

Source: sciencedaily

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July - 2016

Fungus a possible precursor of severe respiratory diseases in pigs

        Respiratory diseases in pigs typically involve multiple infections from different pathogens. Some pathogens play a greater role than others in the progression of the disease. The fungus Pneumocystis carinii is a relatively common cause of pneumonia in Austrian pigs, but its role has so far remained largely unexplored. Pneumocystis is considered to be less dangerous than other pathogens, as it probably requires other underlying conditions to sufficiently weaken the immune defence of the animals first.

Source: phys

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Rare fungus product reduces resistance to antibiotics

        Microorganisms, among them fungi, are a natural and rich source of antibiotic compounds. A team from the Vetmeduni Vienna and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna succeeded for the first time in extracting the rare compound cPM from a filamentous fungus, applying a special method. Using this substance leads to increased susceptibility of a resistant pathogen against standard antibiotics. In total, the team was able to detect six compounds with antibiotic activity. The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Source: vetmeduni

 

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Bacteria avoid age defects through collective behaviour

        As they age, more and more defects arise in most organisms. Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute have discovered that microorganisms like bacteria can keep a colony young by practicing a common strategy for propagation. The same may be true for, for example, stem cells in humans. The results have been published in the scientific journal Cell Systems.

Source: phys

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Researchers uncover the mechanism that triggers host plant resistance against parasitic plants

        There exist more than 4,500 plant species that live as parasites on other plants. Some of them cause great damage to agriculture, even leading to the complete failure of crops. Researchers working with Dr Markus Albert at the University of Tübingen's Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) and collaborators from the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich (Professor Cyril Zipfel, Matthew Smoker) have been investigating the ways in which some species defend themselves against such parasites. They looked at various tomato cultivars that can prevent the dodder parasite from latching onto them. The scientists discovered a gene in the tomato that enabled the plant to recognize the dodder and trigger an innate immune mechanism. Up to now, that kind of defense mechanism had only been observed against microbial pathogens, insects and arachnids. The results suggest that it may be possible to better protect crops against plant parasites.

Source: phys

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Vibrio cholerae swimming in the gut of a live zebrafish

        The growing interest in the trillions of bacteria that live inside our guts is underlined by the more than 10,000 people who read the recent PLOS Biology essay by Diana Bojanova and Seth Bordenstein – "Fecal Transplants: What is being transferred?" – in its first two weeks. But why just imagine these swarming denizens of your GI tract when you could actually watch them?.

Source: phys

— Video

June - 2016

Antibody double trouble for HIV

        Genetically engineered human antibodies that bind to two targets on HIV could one day be used to treat and prevent the disease.

Source: Nature

 

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Bacterium could curb malaria

        West African mosquitoes infected with the bacterium Wolbachia are less likely than uninfected ones to carry the malaria parasite Plasmodium.

Source: Nature

 

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Addressing antibiotic resistance: Breath analysis aims to reduce unnecessary prescriptions

        The overuse of antibiotics gives harmful bacteria the opportunity to evolve into drug resistant strains that threaten health care. To help tackle the problem, scientists have begun a pilot study examining biomarkers exhaled by patients. The team's goal is to develop an efficient (fast, accurate, painless and affordable) test that will assist doctors in prescribing antibiotics only when the treatment is absolutely necessary.

Source: sciencedaily

 

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May - 2016

Magic mushroom drug lifts depression in human trial

        A hallucinogenic drug derived from magic mushrooms could be useful in treating depression, the first safety study of this approach has concluded.

Source: scientificamerican

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White House goes big on microbiome research

        The US government is launching an effort to study the vast, and mostly invisible, array of microorganisms that thrive in the human body and across ecosystems.

Source: nature

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Bacteria, not fungi, behind dandruff severity: study

        A team from Japan and China found dandruff, which afflicts around half the world’s population, is more strongly linked to populations of two bacterial groups – Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus – than the Malassezia fungus, which also happily colonises the human scalp and is widely believed to be the main cause of the condition.

Source: cosmosmagazine

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Orange Penicillium: a new fungus among us

        Distinguished by the bright orange color it displays when produced in colonies, this fungus was named as a tribute to the Dutch royal family, specifically His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange. It was reported in a journal published by the National Herbarium of the Netherlands. The newcomer was isolated from soil in Tunisia. This species also produces a sheet-like extra-cellular matrix that may function as protection from drought.

Source: esf

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Bacteria are individualists

        No two bacteria are identical – even when they are genetically the same. A new study from researchers from Eawag, ETH Zurich, EPFL Lausanne, and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen reveals the conditions under which bacteria become individualists and how they help their group grow when times get tough.

Source: phys

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April - 2016

Your gut bacteria are more than what you eat

        Like it or not, the microbes in and on our bodies play a big role in human health and disease. Yet we still don’t know what determines the exact makeup of these invisible communities and how they vary within populations. Now, two large-scale studies show that factors once thought to be critical, such as natural versus cesarean birth, breastfeeding, or body mass index, don't matter as much as researchers had thought. Instead, medication—including heartburn medicine, antibiotics, and statins—breathing efficiency, stool consistency, and age all correlated better with microbiome composition, the two groups report today in Science. Even chocolate consumption has an effect.

Source: sciencemag

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Probiotics stop menopause-like bone loss in mice

        In mice, ovary removal induces the hormonal changes that occur with menopause in women. The findings suggest that probiotic bacteria may have potential as an inexpensive treatment for post-menopausal osteoporosis. However, clinical evidence that probiotics can have a lasting effect on the mix of bacteria in the body is limited.

Source: medicalxpress

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E. Coli: A "Model Organism" From Theodor Escherich's Legacy

        In the late 1800's, the German pediatrician and bacteriologist, Theodor Escherich, was dismayed by the fact that many babies were dying of diarrhea. Because he believed in the "germ theory of disease," he felt that an organism was the causative agent and set about trying to find it. These investigations led him to discover what he called Bacillus communis coli, a Gram negative, rod-shaped bacterium, that is found in the lower intestines of humans as well as other warm-blooded organisms. After his death, it was renamed in his honor as Escherichia coli, commonly referred to and abbreviated as E. coli.1

Source: emlab

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Findings from the gut—new insights into the human microbiome

        People who like milk chocolate have slightly different microbes in their intestines than those who prefer their chocolate dark, although researchers do not know why. Significant differences in the so-called microbiome are also found in individuals based on whether or not they eat a lot of fiber or take certain medications—such as the diabetes drug metformin, female hormones or antihistamines.

Source: scientificamerican

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Devastating wheat fungus appears in asia for the first time

        Fields are ablaze in Bangladesh, as farmers struggle to contain Asia’s first outbreak of a fungal disease that periodically devastates crops in South America. Plant pathologists warn that wheat blast could spread to other parts of south and southeast Asia, and are hurrying to trace its origins.

Source: scientificamerican

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A single-celled organism capable of learning

        For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that an organism devoid of a nervous system is capable of learning. Biologists have succeeded in showing that a single-celled organism, the protist, is capable of a type of learning called habituation. This discovery throws light on the origins of learning ability during evolution, even before the appearance of a nervous system and brain. It may also raise questions as to the learning capacities of other extremely simple organisms such as viruses and bacteria.

Source: sciencedaily

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Entrancing animated trading cards reveal the surprising beauty of viruses

        Viruses can be scary, but they’re beautiful. Take adenovirus type 5, colloquially known as the common cold. You can’t see the virus with the naked eye, of course, but a microscope reveals a hypnotic icosahedral structure. It’s big (for a virus), and sports a spike at each vertex that helps it stick to target cells. The form follows function, which in this case, means infiltrating the cells of a host and hijacking their replication machinery.

Source: wired

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Animation: Developing immunological memory

        This animation shows how the levels of antibodies change during the specific (adaptive) immune response that develops as a result of infection with a pathogen or following immunisation.

Source: Youtube

— Video

Pandemic E. coli strain H30 cloaks its stealth strategies

        The difficulty in subduing the pandemic strain of drug-resistant E. coli, called H30, may go beyond patient vulnerability or antibiotic resistance. This form of the disease-pathogen may have an intrinsic ability to cause persistent, harmful, even deadly infections.

Source: medicalxpress

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Deadly animal prion disease appears in Europe

        A highly contagious and deadly animal brain disorder has been detected in Europe for the first time. Scientists are now warning that the single case found in a wild reindeer might represent an unrecognized, widespread infection.

Source: nature

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Discovery of enzyme in the sleeping sickness parasite streamlines drug development

        Researchers from Umeå University in Sweden have discovered that the single-celled parasite causing African sleeping sickness has a defence mechanism against potential pharmaceuticals under development against the disease. The deadly parasite has an enzyme that can cleave and hence disarm adenosine analogue pharmaceuticals. This according to a study recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Source: the scientist

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Tuberculosis bacteria build 'edible' havens in immune cells

       The study results revolve around the ancient battle between the human immune system and bacterial invaders, where immune cells strive to recognize bacteria as the microbes work to evade them. Mycobacterium tuberculosis remains the leading bacterial cause of death globally because, like other successful pathogens (e.g. HIV), it goes beyond evasion to take over functions of immune cells.

Source: eurekalert

 

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Immune Influence

        Although the details of this microbe-cancer link remain unclear, investigators suspect that the microbiome’s ability to modulate inflammation and train immune cells to react to tumors is to blame. Here are some of the hypotheses that have come out of recent research in rodents for how gut bacteria shape immunity and influence cancer.

Source: the scientist

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Algae enlisted to produce biofuel using discarded papayas

        USA Algae are the star players in an effort by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Hilo, Hawaii, to produce a renewable source of oil for conversion into biodiesel to help meet the island state's energy needs.

Source: news

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Newly identified cell explosions involved in bacterial secretion, adherence

       A multinational research team has discovered an explosive cell lysis mechanism of bacteria controlled by a phage-related enzyme that releases cell-derived public goods and is activated by stress. The researchers found that explosive cell lysis also contributed to membrane vesicle formation, which helps determine bacterial virulence. These findings further help understanding of how bacteria control their environment and interact as communities. This could aid the development of growth inhibition techniques.

Source: sciencedaily

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Can a Bottle Made From Algae End the World's Plastic Addiction?

       It started as a homework assignment for a college class, but the biodegradable, algae-based container 32-year-old product design student Ari Jónsson ended up creating has the potential to shake up the plastic water bottle industry.

Source: takepart

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Tissue-damaging fungal toxin discovered in pioneering study

       Throughout evolution, pathogens have come up with many tricks to infect and damage their hosts: viruses capture whole cells and turn them into factories for their own replication until the cells are exhausted and die. Infectious bacteria produce multiple molecules that can manipulate the host cell's metabolism or simply destroy it. But what about human pathogenic fungi?

Source: phys

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Reprogramming gut bacteria as “living therapeutics”

       An MIT spinout, Synlogic, is aiming to create a new class of medicines, by re-programming bacteria found in the gut as “living therapeutics.”

Source: news

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March - 2016

Malaria family tree has bird rootsi

       Extensive testing of malarial DNA found in birds, bats and other small mammals from five East African countries revealed that malaria has its roots in bird hosts. It then spread from birds to bats and on to other mammals.

Source: sciencedaily

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World TB Day 2016: Treating TB faster

       Researchers at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL are working on projects to tackle different forms of tuberculosis (TB) with shorter treatment programmes. The STREAM project is looking at multidrug-resistant TB, the TRUNCATE project is looking at drug sensitive TB, and the SHINE project is investigating new, shorter treatments for children with TB.

Source: insight

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FDA Says Deploying Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Is Environmentally Safe

       U.S. health regulators said a genetically engineered mosquito being used in the fight against Zika will not have a significant impact on the environment, possibly paving the way for the technique to be used in the country.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Landmark editorial identifies microbes as major cause of Alzheimer's disease

       A worldwide team of senior scientists and clinicians have come together to produce an editorial which indicates that certain microbes - a specific virus and two specific types of bacteria—are major causes of Alzheimer's disease. Their paper, which has been published online in the highly regarded peer-reviewed journal, Journal of Alzheimer's disease, stresses the urgent need for further research—and more importantly, for clinical trials of anti-microbial and related agents to treat the disease.

Source: medicalxpress

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Urinary Tract Infection: How Bacteria Nestle in

       Almost every second woman suffers from a bladder infection at some point in her life. Also men are affected by cystitis, though less frequently. In eighty percent of the cases, it is caused by the intestinal bacterium E. coli. It travels along the urethra to the bladder where it triggers painful infections. In “Nature Communications” researchers from the University of Basel and the ETH Zurich explain how this bacterium attaches to the surface of the urinary tract via a protein with a sophisticated locking technique, which prevents it from being flushed out by the urine flow.

Source: unibas

 

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Viral ‘fossils’ in our DNA may help us fight infection

       You are up to 8% virus, at least as far as your genome is concerned. Up to 100,000 pieces of ancient viral DNA live among our genes, yet their function—if any—has long been unclear. A new study suggests that some of this foreign genetic material may boost our immune systems, even protecting us from other viruses.

Source: scienmag

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'Humble little fungus' is oldest known land fossil

       The fungus, which dates back 440 million years, spent its life under the ground rotting down matter.

Source: BBC

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February - 2016

New bacterial pump could be used to remove cesium from the environment by light

       The NITech-led team, in collaboration with colleagues at The University of Tokyo, successfully induced a molecular pump found in bacteria to transport cesium. The process simply requires the presence of light to make it function. The finding could pave the way for a new means of extracting cesium from the environment, potentially speeding up decontamination efforts following the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Source: scienmag

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CRISPR-like ‘immune’ system discovered in giant virus

       Gigantic mimiviruses fend off invaders using defences similar to the CRISPR system deployed by bacteria and other microorganisms, French researchers report1. They say that the discovery of a working immune system in a mimivirus bolsters their claim that the giant virus represents a new branch in the tree of life.

Source: nature

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ToRCH Profile IgM, Serum

       Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite that is capable of infecting a variety of intermediate hosts including humans. Infected definitive hosts (cats) shed oocysts in feces that rapidly mature in the soil and become infectious.(1) Toxoplasmosis is acquired by humans through ingestion of food or water contaminated with cat feces or through eating undercooked meat containing viable oocysts. Vertical transmission of the parasite through the placenta can also occur, leading to congenital toxoplasmosis. Following primary infection, Toxoplasma gondii can remain latent for the life of the host; the risk for reactivation is highest among immunosuppressed individuals.

Source: mayomedicallaboratories

 

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New RNA letter regulates gene expression

       A new study finds that RNA, considered the DNA template for protein translation, often appears with an extra letter -- and this letter is the regulatory key for control of gene expression. The discovery offers insight into different RNA functions in cellular processes and contributions to the development of disease.

Source: sciencedaily

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Alcohol also damages the liver by allowing bacteria to infiltrate

       Alcohol itself can directly damage liver cells. Now researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report evidence that alcohol is also harmful to the liver for a second reason—it allows gut bacteria to migrate to the liver, promoting alcohol-induced liver disease. The study, conducted in mice and in laboratory samples, is published February 10 in Cell Host & Microbe.

Source: medicalxpress

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The Lost and Found Fungi project

       Brian Douglas describes how the Lost and Found Fungi project at Kew aims to help develop British fungal conservation, by trying to find out which “lost” species are truly extinct and which species are simply under-recorded due to lack of survey work.

Source: kew

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Lithium battery catalyst found to harm key soil microorganism

       The material at the heart of the lithium ion batteries that power electric vehicles, laptop computers and smartphones has been shown to impair a key soil bacterium. The study is an early signal that the growing use of the new nanoscale materials used in the rechargeable batteries that power portable electronics and electric and hybrid vehicles may have untold environmental consequences.

Source: sciencedaily

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Food Testing Start-Up Looks to Stand Out With a New Wrinkle

       Nothing unnerves consumers more and drives them away from a restaurant, food or beverage faster than a flurry of headlines about people being sickened by dreaded bacteria like E. coli or listeria.

Source: nytimes

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January - 2016

Ganoderma lucidum reduces obesity in mice by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota

       Obesity is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation and intestinal dysbiosis. Ganoderma lucidum is a medicinal mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine with putative anti-diabetic effects. Here, we show that a water extract of Ganoderma lucidum mycelium (WEGL) reduces body weight, inflammation and insulin resistance in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD).

Source: Nature

 

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Extracellular Vesicles from Trypanosoma brucei Mediate Virulence Factor Transfer and Cause Host Anemia

       Intercellular communication between parasites and with host cells provides mechanisms for parasite development, immune evasion, and disease pathology. Bloodstream African trypanosomes produce membranous nanotubes that originate from the flagellar membrane and disassociate into free extracellular vesicles (EVs).

Source: Cell

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S. aureus Can Spread from Blood to Eye, Endangering Vision

       Nearly ten percent of cases of Staphylococcus aureus infections of the blood spread to the eyeball, according to a team of Korean clinical investigators. That spread can severely impair vision, and even cause blindness. The research was published January 11 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Source: asm

 

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Zika Virus Threatens U.S. from Abroad

       To protect patient privacy the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declined to provide the locations of Zika cases in the U.S. but that information is available from state health departments. Until recently state health officials did not require physicians and hospitals to report Zika virus disease, so it is possible that some cases may have not been captured by state records. These maps represent the most comprehensive U.S. data available to date. Scientific American will continue to update them as more U.S. Zika cases are confirmed and their histories evolve.

Source: Scientific American

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More Evidence Emerges for "Transmissible Alzheimer's" Theory

       For the second time in four months, researchers have reported autopsy results that suggest Alzheimer’s disease might occasionally be transmitted to people during certain medical treatments—although scientists say that neither set of findings is conclusive.

Source: Scientific American

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Impact of human activity on local climate mapped

       A new study pinpoints the temperature increases caused by carbon dioxide emissions in different regions around the world.

Source: Science Daily

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Does our Microbiome Control Us or Do We Control It?

       We may be able to keep our gut in check after all. That’s the tantalizing finding from a new study published today that reveals a way that mice—and potentially humans—can control the makeup and behavior of their gut microbiome. Such a prospect upends the popular notion that the complex ecosystem of germs residing in our guts essentially acts as our puppet master, altering brain biochemistry even as it tends to our immune system, wards off infection and helps us break down our supersized burger and fries.

Source: Scientific American

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