Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have identified a tropical rainforest microbe that can endure relatively high concentrations of an ionic liquid used to dissolve cellulosic biomass for the production of advanced biofuels. They've also determined how the microbe accomplishes this, a discovery that holds broad implications beyond biofuels.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have developed a way to generate power using harmless viruses that convert mechanical energy into electricity. The milestone could lead to tiny devices that harvest electrical energy from the vibrations of everyday tasks. It also points to a simpler way to make microelectronic devices.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have identified new targets for drugs that could potentially treat anthrax, the deadly infection caused by Bacillus anthracis . The team found a new way to block the bacteria's ability to capture iron, which is vital to its survival and its disease-causing properties.
Over the past several decades, scientists have faced challenges in developing new antibiotics even as bacteria have become increasingly resistant to existing drugs. One strategy that might combat such resistance would be to overwhelm bacterial defenses by using highly targeted nanoparticles to deliver large doses of existing antibiotics. In a step toward that goal, researchers have developed a nanoparticle designed to evade the immune system and home in on infection sites, then unleash a focused antibiotic attack.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists are exploring whether a common soil bacterium can be engineered to produce liquid transportation fuels much more efficiently than the ways in which advanced biofuels are made today. The process would be powered only by hydrogen and electricity. The goal is a biofuel—or electrofuel, as this new approach is called—that doesn’t require photosynthesis.
A new Agriculture Department program will begin tracing the source of potentially contaminated ground beef as soon as there is an initial positive test. Current procedures require USDA officials to wait until additional testing confirms E. coli before starting their investigation. Under the new process, the source could be traced 24 to 48 hours sooner.
University of Manchester scientists have discovered an Achilles heel within cells that bacteria are able to exploit to cause and spread infection. The researchers say their findings could lead to the development of new anti-infective drugs as alternatives to antibiotics whose overuse has led to resistance.
Researchers at McMaster University have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in recreational water within minutes. The new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety.
Engineers are developing new and innovative ways of coating medical materials with nano-sized particles of silver, an element that has long been known for its antimicrobial properties. However, a recent paper from the University of Notre Dame highlights the fact that a vast majority of bacteria are actually neutral, or even beneficial. Overuse of nanosilver might harm their useful functions in daily life, the paper reports.
According to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the virulence of plant-borne diseases depends on not just the particular strain of a pathogen, but on where the pathogen has been before landing in its host. The study demonstrates that the pattern of gene regulation, not just gene make-up, plays a big role in the aggressiveness of a microbe.
Penicillin and other antibiotics have revolutionized medicine, turning once-deadly diseases into easily treatable ailments. However, while antibiotics have been in use for more than 70 years, the exact mechanism by which they kill bacteria has remained a mystery. Now a new study reveals the killing mechanism behind all three major classes of antibiotics.
While working with an enzyme found in bacteria that is crucial for capturing solar energy, researchers in Michigan have found they can adjust the time the battery-like enzyme can store energy. In nature, the enzyme recovers from a charge-separated state in seconds, but changing the enzyme’s shape has extended storage to several hours.
An international team of scientists conducting a global search for hypervirulent strains of Salmonella , the most common cause of infection, hospitalization, and death due to foodborne illness in the U.S., have developed a way to force the normally stealthy bacteria to reveal its biological weaponry before infection.
Antibiotics are mixed with animal feed to help livestock, pigs and chickens put on weight and stay healthy in crowded barns. Scientists have warned that this routine use leads to the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs that can be passed to humans. Now the Food and Drug Administration is weighing in on the matter, calling on drug companies to help limit the use antibiotics.
Bacteria adapt to habitats through random genetic mutations and gene exchange. But how does an advantageous mutation spread from a bacterium to a population? Does the gene sweep through a population or does an individual bacterium obtain the gene, then replicate its genome to form an adapted population? Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology show that genes can sweep through populations, indicating that the process of evolution in bacteria is very similar to that of sexual eukaryotes.
A group of Chinese and Australian scientists have developed a handheld, battery-powered plasma-producing device that can rid skin of bacteria in an instant. Driven by a 12 V battery, the plasma flashlight doesn't require any external generator or wall power, it also doesn't require any external gas feed or handling system.
Therapeutic proteins, which provide cutting-edge treatments of cancer, diabetes, and countless other diseases, are among today's most widely consumed biopharmaceuticals. By introducing bottom-up carbohydrate engineering into common bacterial cells, Cornell University researchers have discovered a way to make these drugs cheaper and safer.
Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers have developed a dynamic sensor-regulator system that can detect metabolic changes in microbes during the production of fatty acid-based fuels or chemicals and control the expression of genes affecting that production. The result in one demonstration was a threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose.
Without fungi and microbes to break down dead trees and leaf litter in nature, the forest floor might look like a scene from television's "Hoarders." Massive-scale genome sequencing projects being carried out at the Joint Genome Institute highlight the importance of learning how the cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin that serve as a plant's infrastructure can be broken down by these forest organisms to extract needed nutrients.
In search of ways to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Australian scientists are analyzing synthetic antimicrobial skin secretions of Australian Green-Eyed and Growling Grass frogs. These two species were selected because peptides secreted from their skin form a defense to a broad spectrum of bacteria including Staphylococcus .
A research group in Japan have synthesized graphene by reducing graphene oxide using microorganisms extracted from a local river. The method was inspired by a recent report showing that graphene oxide behaves as a terminal electron acceptor for bacteria.
Researchers working at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have used powerful X-rays to help decipher how certain natural antibiotics defy a longstanding set of chemical rules—a mechanism that has baffled organic chemists for decades.
Using a new model to explain how mammalian cells establish the sense of direction necessary to move, researchers at the University of Texas have predicted how bacteria like Escherichia coli that cause food poisoning can hijack a cell’s sense of direction. They then confirmed those predictions in living cells.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles have developed a new cell phone-based fluorescent imaging and sensing platform that can detect the presence of the bacterium Escherichia coli in food and water.
Life inside the human body sometimes looks like life on the high seas in the 1960s, when pirates hijacked foreign vessels in search of precious metals. For Neisseria bacteria, which can cause gonorrhea and meningitis, the booty is not gold or silver but plain old iron. Until recently, scientists did not understand how these bacterial snatch iron from healthy human cells, where a protein called transferrin bind the metal in a molecular bear hug.