Keyword: microbiology

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  • World's Oldest Fossils Found in Ancient Australian Beach

    08/22/2011 8:23:26 PM PDT · by neverdem · 19 replies · 1+ views
    ScienceNOW ^ | 21 August 2011 | Elizabeth Pennisi
    Enlarge Image Old stomping grounds. This landscape in Western Australia is home to these very ancient fossil cells (inset). Credit: David Wacey/University of Western Australia When Martin Brasier discovered what looked like fossil cells in between the cemented sand grains of an ancient beach in Western Australia, he knew he had his work cut out for him. One of the biggest challenges for geologists is deciding when a fossil is really a fossil, particularly when it comes to early life. There are no bones to go by, and the mineralized spheres representing simple cells and sometimes filaments could easily...
  • Lager Beer's Mystery Yeast

    08/22/2011 7:12:21 PM PDT · by neverdem · 23 replies
    ScienceNOW ^ | 22 August 2011 | Sara Reardon
    Enlarge Image Bottoms up. Lager, as we know it, is likely a hybrid of S. cerevisiae and a newly discovered yeast from Patagonia. Credit: Stephan Zabel/iStockphoto Lager may have its roots in Bavaria, but a key ingredient arrived from halfway around the world. Scientists have discovered that the yeast used to brew this light-colored beer may hail from Argentina. Apparently, yeast cells growing in Patagonian trees made their way to Europe and into the barrels of brewers. Through the ages, brewers have tried to make their beers better, for instance, by improving on taste or color or making them...
  • Human Excrement to Blame for Coral Decline

    08/19/2011 12:07:15 PM PDT · by neverdem · 22 replies
    ScienceNOW ^ | 17 August 2011 | Gisela Telis
    Enlarge Image Coral killer. Bacteria found in human excrement cause white pox disease, which bares coral skeletons and kills their tissue. Credit: James W. Porter/University of Georgia Coral reef ecologists have laid a persistent and troubling puzzle to rest. The elkhorn coral, named for its resemblance to elk antlers and known for providing valuable marine habitat, was once the Caribbean's most abundant reef builder. But the "redwood of the coral forest" has declined 90% over the past decade, in part due to highly contagious white pox disease, which causes large lesions that bare the coral's white skeleton and kill...
  • Suicide-Bombing Bacteria Could Fight Infections

    08/19/2011 11:39:20 AM PDT · by neverdem · 5 replies
    ScienceNOW ^ | 16 August 2011 | Sara Reardon
    Enlarge Image Guerrilla tactics. Biologists have created synthetically engineered E. coli (left) that explode and kill pathogenic P. aeruginosa (right). Credit: CDC Like any good military unit, infectious bacteria have access to numerous weapons and efficient communication systems. But like soldiers in the field, they're also susceptible to suicide bombers. Researchers have used the tools of synthetic biology to create an Escherichia coli cell that can infiltrate foreign bacteria and explode, killing off the pathogens along with itself. The project, says bioengineer Chueh Loo Poh of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, was "inspired by nature," particularly by quorum sensing,...
  • U of Minnesota researchers discover a natural food preservative that kills food-borne bacteria

    08/04/2011 4:18:55 PM PDT · by decimon · 5 replies
    University of Minnesota ^ | August 4, 2011 | Unknown
    University of Minnesota researchers have discovered and received a patent for a naturally occurring lantibiotic — a peptide produced by a harmless bacteria — that could be added to food to kill harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and listeria. The U of M lantibiotic is the first natural preservative found to kill gram-negative bacteria, typically the harmful kind. "It's aimed at protecting foods from a broad range of bugs that cause disease," said Dan O'Sullivan, a professor of food science and nutrition in the university's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. "Of the natural preservatives, it has...
  • Antibodies linked to long-term Lyme symptoms

    08/09/2011 10:53:23 AM PDT · by neverdem · 9 replies
    Nature News ^ | 5 August 2011 | Amy Maxmen
    Researchers find molecules that might mark elusive syndrome. Some patients with Lyme disease still show symptoms long after their treatment has finished. Now proteins have been discovered that set these people apart from those who are easily cured. People who experience the symptoms of Lyme disease, which include fatigue, soreness and memory or concentration loss, after treatment for the disorder are sometimes diagnosed as having chronic Lyme disease or post-Lyme disease syndrome. But these diagnoses are difficult to make, because the individuals no longer seem to harbour the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. And the symptoms could instead be indicative...
  • Respiratory virus jumps from monkeys to humans

    07/17/2011 12:06:38 AM PDT · by neverdem · 16 replies
    Nature News ^ | 14 July 2011 | Zoe Cormier
    Adenovirus remained infectious after crossing species barrier. A class of virus has for the first time been shown to jump from animals to humans — and then to infect other humans. The virus is described in PLoS Pathogens today1. The team that discovered it might also have found the first human to be infected: the primary carer for a colony of titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) that suffered an outbreak. The culprit is an adenovirus, one of a class of viruses that cause a range of illnesses in humans, including pneumonia. But this particular strain has never been seen before. It...
  • Chemist solves riddle of killer diseases (Gram-positive bacteria)

    06/23/2011 9:01:38 AM PDT · by decimon · 16 replies
    University of Copenhagen ^ | June 24, 2011 | Unknown
    Bacterial poisonAnthrax, septicemia and meningitis are some of the planet's most deadly infections. In part because doctors lack basic insights to prevent and cure diseases caused by so called Gram-positive bacteria. Now, a chemist from the University of Copenhagen has revealed the mechanism behind these deadly infections.By creating a synthetic version of a Gram-bacterial endotoxin, Danish synthetic chemist Christian Marcus Pedersen has made a contribution that'll compel immune biologists to revise their textbooks. More importantly, he has paved the first steps of the way towards new and effective types of antibiotics. Chemist in international collaboration with biologists and physiciansThe research...
  • Unusual Traits Blended in Germany E. Coli Strain

    06/23/2011 1:04:56 PM PDT · by neverdem · 34 replies
    NY Times ^ | June 22, 2011 | GINA KOLATA
    University Hospital Münster/Institute for HygieneThe E. coli O104:H4 strain has a pattern that looks like a stack of bricks on cultured intestinal epithelial cells. The E. coli bacteria that killed dozens of people in Germany over the past month have a highly unusual combination of two traits and that may be what made the outbreak among the deadliest in recent history, scientists there are reporting. One trait was a toxin, called Shiga, that causes severe illness, including bloody diarrhea and, in some patients, kidney failure. The other is the ability of this strain to gather on the surface of an...
  • Lyme disease bacteria take cover in lymph nodes

    06/16/2011 2:11:48 PM PDT · by decimon · 15 replies
    University of California - Davis ^ | June 16, 2011 | Unknown
    The bacteria that cause Lyme disease, one of the most important emerging diseases in the United States, appear to hide out in the lymph nodes, triggering a significant immune response, but one that is not strong enough to rout the infection, report researchers at the University of California, Davis. Results from this groundbreaking study involving mice may explain why some people experience repeated infections of Lyme disease. The study appears online in the journal Public Library of Science Biology at: http://tinyurl.com/3vs8pm9. "Our findings suggest for the first time that Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease in people, dogs...
  • The Dirty 11: Panel Names Pathogens That Pose Biggest Security Risk for Research

    06/16/2011 8:46:01 PM PDT · by neverdem · 6 replies · 1+ views
    ScienceInsider ^ | 15 June 2011 | Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
    A United States federal panel of scientists and security experts has identified 11 microorganisms that it wants designated as Tier 1 select agents, a new category of biological agents that would be subject to higher security standards than other pathogens and toxins used in biomedical research. The category would include anthrax, Ebola, Variola major and Variola minor (the two viruses that cause small pox), the Marburg virus, the virus that causes foot and mouth disease, and bacterial strains that produce the botulinum neurotoxin. At the same time, the panel has recommended dropping 19 pathogens and six toxins from the broader...
  • Phage on the rampage - Antibiotic use may have driven the development of Europe's deadly E. coli.

    06/09/2011 8:53:08 PM PDT · by neverdem · 16 replies
    Nature News ^ | 9 June 2011 | Marian Turner
    Women, beansprouts, cucumbers, bacteria, cows: the cast of the current European Escherichia coli outbreak is already a crowd. Enter the phage. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria, and they are star players in the chain of events that led to this outbreak. Bacterial infections often originate from contaminated food, but it is now about six weeks since the start of this outbreak and the trail is going cold. It's hard to be sure of the culprit — but this simply serves to highlight the importance of understanding how infectious bacteria get into the food chain in the first place. Case-control...
  • Discovery of canine hepatitis C virus opens up new doors for research on deadly human pathogen

    06/07/2011 4:32:19 PM PDT · by neverdem · 7 replies
    EurekAlert! ^ | 23-May-2011 | NA
    Contact: Daniela Hernandez dfh2101@columbia.edu 310-991-2391 Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health In a study to be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report the discovery of a novel hepatitis C-like virus in dogs. The identification and characterization of this virus gives scientists new insights into how hepatitis C in humans may have evolved and provides scientists renewed hope to develop a model system to study how it causes disease. The research was conducted at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the University...
  • New Data Spark Retraction Request for Chronic Fatigue Virus Study

    06/03/2011 10:19:46 PM PDT · by neverdem · 10 replies
    ScienceNOW ^ | 31 May 2011 | Jon Cohen
    Enlarge Image Buggy research? Increasing evidence suggests that contamination explains ties between CFS and XMRV, pictured here in a cross-sectional illustration and an electron micrograph. Credit: Bob Silverman/Cleveland Clinic/Illustration by David Schumick; (inset, right) Lombardi et al., Science You cannot un-ring a bell, but you can retract a scientific study. Then again, as a raging debate over a Science paper that linked a mouse retrovirus to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) makes clear, retractions can be a tall order, too. In conjunction with their decision to publish two additional papers that strongly question the link between the virus, known as...
  • New Superbug Found in Cows and People

    06/02/2011 5:26:28 PM PDT · by neverdem · 6 replies
    ScienceNOW ^ | 2 June 2011 | Jocelyn Kaiser
    A novel form of deadly drug-resistant bacteria that hides from a standard test has turned up in Europe. Researchers found the so-called MRSA strain in both dairy cows and humans in the United Kingdom, suggesting that it might be passed from dairies to the general population. But before you toss your milk, don't panic: The superbug isn't a concern in pasteurized dairy products. MRSA, short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a drug-resistant form of the widespread and normally harmless S. aureus bacteria. Many people walk around with MRSA in their noses or on their skin yet don't get sick. But...
  • DNA Sequence Yields Clues to Germany's 'Super Toxic' E. coli outbreak

    06/02/2011 4:18:36 PM PDT · by neverdem · 52 replies
    ScienceInsider ^ | 2 June 2011 | Martin Enserink
    Just from the high number of deaths and severe cases, scientists and public health experts battling Germany's massive E. coli outbreak knew they were up against something unusual. Now, early results from sequencing projects of the enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strain appear to confirm that a never-before-seen hybrid, combining the worst of several bacterial strains, is causing the havoc. The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), in Shenzhen, China—which today announced that it has sequenced the microbe's entire 5.2-million-base-pair genome—says that its acquisition of several virulence genes make this EHEC strain "supertoxic." The outbreak, which has caused mayhem in European trade relations,...
  • Does Disease Cause Autocracy?

    05/31/2011 8:29:54 PM PDT · by neverdem · 14 replies
    Reason ^ | May 31, 2011 | Ronald Bailey
    New studies say that lowering the rate of infection helps lead to political liberalization. Greater wealth strongly correlates with property rights, the rule of law, more education, the liberation of women, a free press, and more social tolerance. The enduring puzzle for political scientists is how do the social processes that produce freedom and wealth get started in the first place? Many political theorists have associated democracy with the rise of wealth and the establishment of a large middle class. As Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, and Christian Welzel, a political scientist at Jacobs University...
  • MRC Scientists Identify Genes That Make MRSA Difficult To Beat

    05/13/2011 12:42:04 PM PDT · by neverdem · 18 replies
    Medical Research Council ^ | May 12, 2011 | NA
    Research at the Medical Research Council (MRC) has highlighted genes in the bacterium Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that may help the superbug to survive after it has been targeted by antibacterial agents. This discovery could inform the development of future drugs to overcome MRSA’s defence systems. The research team, including scientists at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh and the Universities of St Andrews, Dundee and London, developed a gene map to improve understanding of how MRSA escapes being killed by antimicrobials. For the first time, they were able to map relationships between 95 per cent of MRSA genes,...
  • Salmonella hits US teaching labs - Wave of infections triggers investigation into biosafety...

    05/10/2011 4:27:32 PM PDT · by neverdem · 10 replies
    Nature News ^ | 10 May 2011 | Erika Check Hayden
    Wave of infections triggers investigation into biosafety practices. A spate of lab-associated Salmonella infections has swept across the United States during the past year, prompting public-health officials to examine how closely labs are following infection-prevention protocols. "The fact that cases seem to be happening all over the country has raised the question of whether there are issues with laboratory safety and appropriate training techniques," says Mack Sewell, state epidemiologist at the New Mexico Department of Health in Santa Fe. Between August 2010 and March this year, 73 infections due to Salmonella typhi­murium, a relatively common strain of the bacterium, caused...
  • FDA clears first test to quickly diagnose and distinguish MRSA and MSSA

    05/09/2011 7:09:21 PM PDT · by neverdem · 6 replies
    FDA NEWS RELEASE ^ | May 6, 2011 | NA
    For Immediate Release: May 6, 2011Media Inquiries: Erica Jefferson, 301-796-4988, erica.jefferson@fda.hhs.govConsumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDAFDA clears first test to quickly diagnose and distinguish MRSA and MSSA The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today cleared the first test for Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus)  infections that is able to quickly identify whether the bacteria are methicillin resistant (MRSA) or methicillin susceptible (MSSA).There are many different types of Staphylococci bacteria, which cause skin infections, pneumonia, food and blood infections (blood poisoning). While some S.aureus infections are treated easily with antibiotics, others are resistant (MRSA) to commonly prescribed antibiotics such as penicillin and amoxicillin. The KeyPath MRSA/MSSA...
  • Multi-drug resistant staph in 1 of 4 supermarket meat samples

    04/19/2011 11:05:04 AM PDT · by neverdem · 21 replies
    Ars Technica | April 17, 2011 | Maryn McKenna
    Ars Technica is from Condé Nast, so it can't be posted. Go to the link.
  • Mighty micelles that make themselves

    04/07/2011 7:32:39 AM PDT · by neverdem · 3 replies
    Chemistry World ^ | 04 April 2011 | Carol Stanier
    Scientists in the US and Singapore have made self assembling micelles of cationic polymers that kill bacteria but are biodegradable - raising further hope of a nanotechnology solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance.Conventional antibiotics typically kill by penetrating the cell wall and disrupting vital cellular processes inside. But bacterial resistance to such antibiotics is growing because bacteria that survive treatment go on to proliferate, thereby spreading their genetic advantage.Some cationic peptides can kill bacteria by disrupting the cell wall of the bacteria instead, and resistance in this case is less likely to arise. But these peptides are often toxic to the host and...
  • The spread of superbugs - What can be done about the rising risk of antibiotic resistance?

    04/05/2011 11:05:59 AM PDT · by neverdem · 45 replies
    The Economist ^ | Mar 31st 2011 | Masthead Editorial
    ON DECEMBER 11th 1945, at the end of his Nobel lecture, Alexander Fleming sounded a warning. Fleming’s chance observation of the antibiotic effects of a mould called Penicillium on one of his bacterial cultures had inspired his co-laureates, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, two researchers based in Oxford, to extract the mould’s active principal and turn it into the miracle cure now known as penicillin. But Fleming could already see the future of antibiotic misuse. “There is the danger”, he said, “that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug...
  • 'Virus-eater' discovered in Antarctic lake

    03/29/2011 3:23:02 PM PDT · by neverdem · 52 replies · 1+ views
    Nature News ^ | 28 March 2011 | Virginia Gewin
    First of the parasitic parasites to be discovered in a natural environment points to hidden diversity. A genomic survey of the microbial life in an Antarctic lake has revealed a new virophage — a virus that attacks viruses. The discovery suggests that these life forms are more common, and have a larger role in the environment, than was once thought. An Australian research team found the virophage while surveying the extremely salty Organic Lake in eastern Antarctica. While sequencing the collective genome of microbes living in the surface waters, they discovered the virus, which they dubbed the Organic Lake Virophage...
  • Drug-resistant bacterium hits Southland healthcare facilities

    03/25/2011 7:15:29 PM PDT · by neverdem · 8 replies
    LA Times ^ | March 25, 2011 | Molly Hennessy-Fiske
    Researchers find 356 cases of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, mostly among elderly. It's a relative of E. coli, resistant to most antibiotics except colistin, a drug so powerful it can cause kidney damage. Studies in the U.S. and Israel have shown about 40% of infected patients die. A dangerous drug-resistant bacterium has reached Southern California healthcare facilities, according to a study released Thursday by Los Angeles County public health officials. Researchers found 356 cases of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, or CRKP, at healthcare facilities in Los Angeles County, mostly among elderly patients, said author Dr. Dawn Terashita, a medical epidemiologist with the...
  • New Blood Analysis Chip Could Lead to Disease Diagnosis in Minutes

    03/24/2011 10:35:57 PM PDT · by neverdem · 6 replies
    ScienceDaily ^ | Mar. 18, 2011 | NA
    enlarge Photograph of the stand alone 1x2 inch SIMBAS chip simultaneously processing five separate whole-blood samples by separating the plasma from the blood cells and detecting the presence of biotin, or vitamin B7. (Credit: Ivan Dimov) — A major milestone in microfluidics could soon lead to stand-alone, self-powered chips that can diagnose diseases within minutes. The device, developed by an international team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components. The researchers have...
  • Cambodia's deadly virus: 85% mortality rate

    03/15/2011 11:05:20 AM PDT · by neverdem · 41 replies
    Pravda.Ru ^ | 27.02.2011 | Konstantin Karpov
    Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Black Death, a global pandemic of catastrophic proportions, has reared its ugly head in the Far East, home to many pandemic viruses. This time it is not a 30 per cent death rate, it is an 85 per cent death rate. It is called the Cambodian Avian Flu virus. Avian Flu has been around for centuries. So have other pandemics. But an 85 per cent mortality rate? Let us not invent, let us use the World Health Organization's communications: Avian influenza - situation in Cambodia 9 February 2011 - The Ministry of Health of Cambodia...
  • University of Maryland School of Medicine publishes scientific paper on 2001 anthrax attacks

    03/07/2011 6:11:45 PM PST · by decimon · 2 replies · 1+ views
    University of Maryland Medical Center ^ | March 7, 2011 | Unknown
    Institute for Genome Sciences led pioneering investigation in new field of microbial forensicsResearchers at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and collaborators at the FBI, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and Northern Arizona University have published the first scientific paper based on their investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001. The case was groundbreaking in its use of genomics and microbiology in a criminal investigation. More than 20 people contracted anthrax from Bacillus anthracis spores mailed through the U.S. Postal Service in 2001, and five people died as a...
  • Bacteria's Viral DNA Offers a Sneak Peek into Primitive Immune Systems

    12/31/2010 9:47:25 AM PST · by decimon · 11 replies
    Daily Tech ^ | December 31, 2010 | Tiffany Kaiser
    Viral DNA trapped in a bacteria cell's chromosome for millions of years has shown how bacteria becomes resistant to antibioticsA Texas A&M University researcher has discovered how nature's most primitive immune systems worked by studying bacteria's methods of resisting antibiotics over millions of years. Thomas Wood, study leader and professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, along with a team of researchers, have researched bacteria's method of using DNA from invading viruses to build a resistance to antibiotics, which revealed the secrets behind how nature's earliest immune systems worked and how it affects humans...
  • Disaster doctors may be using the wrong drugs

    12/26/2010 12:01:32 PM PST · by neverdem · 14 replies · 5+ views
    Nature News ^ | 22 December 2010 | Daniel Cressey
    Study of Haiti earthquake victims shows most wounds infected with Gram-negative, not Gram-positive, bacteria. Guidelines for medical teams responding to catastrophes such as the Haiti earthquake may be causing doctors to miss a crucial set of deadly bacteria. According to an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) rapid-response team, a large proportion of the wounds treated at their field hospital in Haiti were infected with Gram-negative pathogens. These bacteria are largely ignored in current recommendations on drug treatment for disaster victims. Staining with the dye crystal violet is widely used to differentiate bacteria into two types — Gram-positive and Gram-negative — in...
  • New Antibiotics, Stat! - The drug makers are in a bind — and public health is in danger.

    12/21/2010 10:46:30 AM PST · by neverdem · 40 replies · 1+ views
    NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE ^ | December 21, 2010 | Josh Bloom & Gilbert Ross
    New Antibiotics, Stat!The drug makers are in a bind — and public health is in danger. The development of new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle, just when we need them most. As drug-resistant bacteria are on the rampage worldwide, we find ourselves in a most precarious situation — one not unlike the pre-antibiotic era, before penicillin, when staphylococcal and pneumococcal infections were the dominant pathogens. Now MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) kills more people than AIDS every year, and various multiple-drug-resistant organisms have appeared, leaving doctors with few therapeutic weapons for treating a number of prevalent infections. How did this...
  • Biohydrogen produced in air

    12/18/2010 9:33:26 AM PST · by neverdem · 19 replies
    Chemistry World ^ | 15 December 2010 | James Urquhart
    A strain of nitrogen-fixing ocean microbe has been found to be the most efficient hydrogen-producing microbe to date, boosting the prospect of one day using hydrogen as an environmentally friendly fuel. The US team behind the discovery says the naturally occurring cyanobacteria Cyanothece 51142 turns solar energy into hydrogen under aerobic conditions at rates several times higher than any other known photosynthetic microbe.Normally, microbes that produce hydrogen do so under anaerobic conditions. This is because the enzymes they use for hydrogen production, namely nitrogenase and/or hydrogenase, are inhibited by oxygen. By understanding the way Cyanothece  51142 grows and fixes nitrogen, the team learned that...
  • Are We Ready For A Biological Attack?

    12/03/2010 8:40:07 PM PST · by neverdem · 15 replies
    Human Events ^ | 12/02/2010 | James A. Joyce
    There has been much discussion by national security experts inside and outside of government as to how Congress and the President should ensure that the United States is safe from a terrorist attack.  But there has been relatively little discussion in comparison as to how we would respond if an attack did occur.  Are we ready for a biological attack on our military or citizenry?  Has the federal government planned for a medical response to an attack?  Are we spending money on the right therapies or vaccines?  Do we even know how to respond to a widespread biological or chemical...
  • Microbiology: The new germ theory

    11/24/2010 9:21:17 PM PST · by neverdem · 23 replies · 3+ views
    Nature News ^ | 24 November 2010 | Lizzie Buchen
    What can microbiologists who study human bowels learn from those who study the bowels of Earth? Jillian Banfield trades in hell holes. In September, she could be found wading through the dark, hot, sulphurous innards of Richmond Mine at Iron Mountain, California, where blue stalactites ooze the most acidic water ever discovered, with a pH of −3.6. A year before that, she was pumping up a toxic soup of uranium, arsenic, molybdenum and other metals from underneath a decommissioned nuclear-processing site in Rifle, Colorado. From both sites she took samples back to her lab at the University of California, Berkeley,...
  • Cause of the big plague epidemic of Middle Ages identified

    10/20/2010 12:55:40 AM PDT · by neverdem · 50 replies
    PhysOrg.com ^ | October 11, 2010 | NA
    Geographical position of the five archaeological sites investigated. Green dots indicate the sites. Also indicated are two likely independent infection routes (black and red dotted arrows) for the spread of the Black Death (1347-1353) after Benedictow. ©: PLoS Pathogens The 'Black Death' was caused by at least two previously unknown types of Yersinia pestis bacteria. The latest tests conducted by anthropologists at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have proven that the bacteria Yersinia pestis was indeed the causative agent behind the "Black Death" that raged across Europe in the Middle Ages. The cause of the epidemic has always remained...
  • Disfiguring tropical disease surges in Afghanistan

    10/15/2010 2:01:07 PM PDT · by ilovesarah2012 · 10 replies
    Yahoo News ^ | October 15, 2010 | Robert Kennedy
    KABUL, Afghanistan – An outbreak of a tropical disease caused by sand fly bites that leaves disfiguring skin sores has hit Afghanistan, with tens of thousands of people infected, health officials said Friday. Cutaneous leishmanisis is a parasitic disease transmitted by the female phlebotomine sand fly — an insect only 2-3 millimeters long that requires the blood of humans or animals so its eggs can develop. Treatable with medication and not life-threatening, cutaneous leishmanisis can leave severe scars on the bodies of victims. The disease threatens 13 million people in Afghanistan, the World Health Organization said, and many impoverished Afghan...
  • Mr. Bio-Defense - William C. Patrick, III: a tribute

    10/14/2010 2:56:01 PM PDT · by neverdem · 2 replies
    City Journal ^ | 5 October 2010 | Judith Miller
    William C. Patrick, III loved his life in the shadows. Though his name and face were not well known, even to many in national security circles, Bill Patrick was for over 50 years the government’s “go-to guy” on biological weapons. When Federal Bureau of Investigation agents needed help proving in the mid-1980s that followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh had poisoned over 750 people in Oregon by sprinkling salmonella in salad bars and coffee creamers in restaurants along the interstate highway—the first large-scale use of germs by terrorists on American soil—they called Bill Patrick. In 1990, as the United States...
  • Ancient Virus Found Hiding Out in Finch Genome

    10/02/2010 11:21:25 AM PDT · by neverdem · 25 replies · 1+ views
    ScienceNOW ^ | 28 September 2010 | Cassandra Willyard
    Enlarge Image Buried gem. Researchers have uncovered "fossil virus" inside the zebra finch genome. Credit: Peripitus/Wikimedia The hepatitis B virus and its ilk have been around for a long, long time. A newly uncovered "viral fossil" buried deep in the genome of the zebra finch indicates that the hepatitis B family of viruses—known as hepadnaviruses—originated at least 19 million years ago. Together with recent findings on other viruses, the work suggests that all viruses may be much older than thought. No one knows exactly where or when viruses originated. They don't leave fossils, so scientists have begun scouring the...
  • Study: Doctors overprescribe antibiotics for respiratory infections

    09/22/2010 5:26:39 PM PDT · by decimon · 81 replies
    University of Chicago Press Journals ^ | September 22, 2010 | Unknown
    Doctors frequently misuse antibiotics when treating patients hospitalized with respiratory tract infections (RTIs), according to a study to be published in the November issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. The study, which tracked patients in two Pennsylvania hospitals, found that doctors often use antibiotics to treat patients whose infections are known to be caused by viruses. The findings are alarming because antibiotics are not effective against viruses, and antibiotic overuse has been linked to the development of resistant bacterial strains. "[T]hese data demonstrate at least one area where antibiotics are commonly used in hospitalized patients without clear reason," write...
  • Town's Disease Is Traced to a Surprising Culprit (Legionnaire's Disease)

    09/15/2010 6:18:15 PM PDT · by decimon · 8 replies
    Live Science ^ | September 15, 2010 | Wynne Parry
    After five years of lying low, Legionnaire's disease - a potentially fatal lung infection - returned to the small city of Alcoi, Spain, on July 21, 2009. > This microbe lives in fresh water nearly everywhere, and it becomes a problem only when inhaled as a fine spray or aerosol. (Legionella is harmless if you drink it.) Outbreaks are usually traced back to man-made supplies of warm water, such as water cooling systems, fountains, hot tubs, even showers. > Investigations into Legionella outbreaks are difficult, according to Dr. Lauri Hicks, a medical epidemiologist in the respiratory-diseases branch of the Centers...
  • Biotech Company to Patent Fuel-Secreting Bacterium

    09/15/2010 1:09:11 PM PDT · by neverdem · 39 replies
    NY Times ^ | September 13, 2010 | MATTHEW L. WALD
    A biotech company plans to announce Tuesday that it has won a patent on a genetically altered bacterium that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into ingredients of diesel fuel, a step that could provide a new pathway for making ethanol or a diesel replacement that skips several cumbersome and expensive steps in existing methods. The bacterium’s product, which it secretes like sweat, is a class of hydrocarbon molecules called alkanes that are chemically indistinguishable from the ones made in oil refineries. The organism can grow in bodies of water unfit for drinking or on land that is useless for farming,...
  • A New Form of Chlorophyll?

    08/30/2010 1:42:40 AM PDT · by neverdem · 6 replies
    Scientific American ^ | August 19, 2010 | Ferris Jabr
    Researchers discover evidence for a new type of chlorophyll in cyanobacteria that can absorb near-infrared lightResearchers may have found a new form of chlorophyll, the pigment that plants, algae and cyanobacteria use to obtain energy from light through photosynthesis. Preliminary findings published August 19 in Science suggest that the newly discovered molecule, dubbed chlorophyll f, has a distinct chemical composition when compared with the four known forms of chlorophyll and can absorb more near-infrared light than is typical for the photosynthetic pigments. Chlorophyll f, which was extracted from cultures of cyanobacteria and other oxygenic microorganisms, may allow certain photosynthetic life...
  • Stomach bacteria need vitamin to establish infection (B6)

    08/19/2010 1:46:47 PM PDT · by decimon · 10 replies
    American Society for Microbiology ^ | August 19, 2010 | Unknown
    Scientists have determined that Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes peptic ulcers and some forms of stomach cancer, requires the vitamin B6 to establish and maintain chronic infection, according to research published this week in the online journal mBio™. This finding, along with the identification of the enzyme the microbe requires to utilize the vitamin, could lead to the development of an entirely new class of antibiotics. "Approximately half the world's population is infected with H. pylori, yet how H. pylori bacteria establish chronic infections in human hosts remains elusive. To our knowledge, this study is the first to describe...
  • Squad seeks tips in death of researcher

    01/10/2005 2:06:42 PM PST · by FourtySeven · 15 replies · 483+ views
    Columbia Daily Tribune ^ | Sunday, January 9, 2005 | MIKE WELLS
    A retired research assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia died of multiple stab wounds before firefighters found in his body in the trunk of a burning car Friday. Boone County Medical Examiner Valerie Rao said after an autopsy that Jeong H. Im, 72, of Columbia was stabbed several times, but she declined to elaborate. MU police yesterday named Im as the victim. His body was found in the trunk of his burning white, 1995 Honda inside the Maryland Avenue parking garage, MU police Capt. Brian Weimer said. The case was under investigation by the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad. No...
  • Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat

    08/03/2010 9:08:33 PM PDT · by neverdem · 14 replies · 339+ views
    NY Times ^ | August 2, 2010 | NICHOLAS WADE
    A large part of human milk cannot be digested by babies and seems to have a purpose quite different from infant nutrition — that of influencing the composition of the bacteria in the infant’s gut. The details of this three-way relationship between mother, child and gut microbes are being worked out by three researchers at the University of California, Davis — Bruce German, Carlito Lebrilla and David Mills. They and colleagues have found that a particular strain of bacterium, a subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum, possesses a special suite of genes that enable it to thrive on the indigestible component of...
  • Cleaning up organic pollutants

    07/02/2010 10:45:04 PM PDT · by neverdem · 3 replies
    Highlights in Chemical Technology ^ | 01 July 2010 | Russell Johnson
    Cleaning up the environment after chemical spills could be made easier thanks to Argentinean scientists who have developed a material that encapsulates pollutant-destroying microorganisms inside it. Removing organic pollutants from water after a chemical leak or cleaning up industrial waste water remains a challenge. One solution is to use microorganisms to break up organic pollutants, however, this risks releasing foreign or genetically modified organisms into the environment. These microorganisms can rapidly grow, deplete vital nutrients and cause further damage. Now, Sara Bilmes and colleagues at the University of Bunenos Aires, have developed a material that could help break up organic pollutants...
  • Do Parasites Make You Dumber?

    07/01/2010 8:55:14 PM PDT · by neverdem · 49 replies
    ScienceNOW ^ | June 29, 2010 | Cassandra Willyard
    Enlarge Image Global smarts. In this map, countries shaded purple have the highest average IQ. Those shaded dark red have the lowest IQ—and, typically, the highest incidence of infectious disease. Credit: Wikimedia Commons What can you do to make your kids smarter? Keeping them healthy might help. A new study suggests that worldwide differences in intelligence can be explained by disparities in infectious disease. The researchers found that countries most heavily affected by infectious diseases generally had the lowest average IQs. They propose that these illnesses hinder children's brain development, though their conclusion is gathering mixed reviews. The new...
  • Better Rice Through Fungi

    06/12/2010 12:09:30 AM PDT · by neverdem · 2 replies · 332+ views
    ScienceNOW ^ | June 10, 2010 | Kelli Whitlock Burton
    Enlarge Image Fungal friend. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi produce hundreds of spores, such as the ones shown here, just outside the roots of a plant Credit: Shannon Schechter More than 80% of plant species make friends with a common fungus. In return for sugar, the fungus helps the plants extract nutrients from the soil. But rice plants, a primary food source for billions of people, don't have this special relationship—and thus they don't receive the extra boost the fungi give other plants. A new study suggests that with a little help from researchers, however, the fungus will bond with rice,...
  • Probiotic found in breast milk helps alleviate symptoms of digestive disorders

    06/02/2010 4:17:06 PM PDT · by decimon · 6 replies · 260+ views
    New research published in the FASEB Journal suggests that Lactobacillus reuteri immediately affects nerves in the gut, explaining how probiotics workHere's another reason to breast feed your baby: Canadian researchers have discovered how a probiotic found in breastmilk reduces or eliminates painful cramping in the gut. In a new research report published online in the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), these scientists use mice to show that a specific strain of Lactobacillus reuteri decreases the force of muscle contractions in the gut within minutes of exposure. This bacterium naturally occurs in the gut of many mammals and can be found in human...
  • Synthetic Genome Brings New Life to Bacterium

    05/21/2010 2:05:13 AM PDT · by neverdem · 5 replies · 629+ views
    Science ^ | 21 May 2010 | Elizabeth Pennisi
    For 15 years, J. Craig Venter has chased a dream: to build a genome from scratch and use it to make synthetic life. Now, he and his team at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland, and San Diego, California, say they have realized that dream. In this week's Science Express (www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/science.1190719), they describe the stepwise creation of a bacterial chromosome and the successful transfer of it into a bacterium, where it replaced the native DNA. Powered by the synthetic genome, that microbial cell began replicating and making a new set of proteins. This is "a defining moment...