Individual freedom and social responsibility may sound like humanistic concepts, but an investigation of the genetic circuitry of bacteria suggests that even the simplest creatures can make difficult choices that strike a balance between selflessness and selfishness.
Scientists have revealed how a bacterial enzyme has evolved an energy-efficient method to move long distances along DNA. The findings present further insight into the coupling of chemical and mechanical energy by a class of enzymes called helicases, a widely distributed group of proteins, which in human cells are implicated in some cancers.
New research from Harvard University helps to explain how waterborne bacteria can colonize rough surfaces—even those that have been designed to resist water. A team studied the gut bacterium Escherichia coli, which has many flagella that stick out in all directions. The researchers found that these tails can act as biological grappling hooks, reaching far into nanoscale crevices and latching the bacteria in place.
Pneumonia and other infections sometimes provoke an inflammatory response from the body that is more detrimental than the disease-causing bacteria. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine discovered a new biological pathway of innate immunity that ramps up inflammation and then identified agents that can block it, leading to increased survival and improved lung function in animal models of pneumonia.
The term "survival of the fittest" refers to natural selection in biological systems, but Darwin's theory may apply more broadly than that. New research from Brookhaven National Laboratory shows that this evolutionary theory also applies to technological systems. The team worked to compare that frequency with which components "survive" in two complex systems: bacterial genomes and operating systems on Linux computers.
Through the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, several types of bacteria have become resistant to drugs that were designed to kill them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that some of these "superbugs" are linked to tens of thousands of deaths in the United States annually, including 14,000 for C. difficile and 19,000 for MRSA. Technology developed by Purdue University researchers and commercialized through a Purdue Research Park-based firm could be effective against the increased number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in the world.
Certain bacteria can breathe iron like we breathe oxygen. Understanding how they do so will help researchers use the microbes for cleaning up soil contaminants, for trapping carbon dioxide, or for making batteries out of bacteria. Now, a team of researchers report that proteins on the surface of bacteria produce an electric current by simply touching a mineral surface, allowing them to breathe the iron in the rock.
As public health officials sound the alarm about the global spread of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers are working to develop more effective antibiotics to counter this dangerous trend. Now, results from a team including a Princeton University scientist offer a possible solution that uses the bacteria's own byproducts to destroy them.
The biological sources of methane are wide-ranging. However, the conditions have to be always oxygen-free and the exact mechanism has been unclear. A team of researchers in Germany has gained insight into microbiological methane production by explaining the structure of a hydrogenase used by archaebacteria to split hydrogen to produce methane
Microbes from the human mouth are telling Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists something about periodontitis and more after they cracked the genetic code of bacteria linked to the condition. The research marks the first time scientists have managed to isolate and cultivate this type of bacterium.
Rice University researchers have found a way to divide and modify enzymes to create what amounts to a genetic logic gate. The researchers have created a library of AND gates by mutating a protein from a bacterial virus. The well-understood protein known as T7 RNA polymerase (RNAP) is a strong driver of transcription in cells.
Vaccines that employ weakened but live pathogens to trigger immune responses have inherent safety issues but Yale University researchers have developed a new trick to circumvent the problem—using bacteria’s own cellular mistakes to deliver a safe vaccine. The findings suggest new ways to create novel vaccines that effectively combat disease but can be tolerated by children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised who might be harmed by live vaccines.
A new form of microbial life has been found in water samples taken from a giant freshwater lake hidden under kilometers of Antarctic ice, Russian scientists said Monday. In a prepared statement, the researchers said that the "unidentified and unclassified" bacterium has no relation to any of the existing bacterial types. They touched the lake water Sunday at a depth of 12,366 feet (3,769 m), about 800 miles (1,300 km) east of the South Pole in the central part of the continent.
Like the extraterrestrial creature in the movie Alien, the "extremophile" red alga Galdieria sulphuraria can survive brutal heat and resist the effects of toxins. Scientists were previously unsure of how a one-celled alga acquired such flexibility and resilience. But recently they made an unexpected discovery: Galdieria's genome shows clear signs of borrowing genes from its neighbors.
A researcher has recently attempted to answer to an enigma in medical science: How are bacteria becoming more resistant to antibiotics? According to his theory, bacteria that are non-resistant to antibiotics acquire this resistance accidentally. This occurs because they take up the DNA of other bacteria that are resistant because of their exposure to stress.
A new study has examined how bacteria clog medical devices, and the result isn’t pretty. The microbes join to create slimey ribbons that tangle and trap other passing bacteria, creating a full blockage in a startlingly short period of time. The finding could help shape strategies for preventing clogging of devices such as stents and water filters
While studying a mutant strain of yeast, Purdue University researchers may have found a new target for drugs to combat cholesterol and fungal diseases.
An international team of scientists has discovered how an important natural antibiotic called dermcidin, produced by our skin when we sweat, is a highly efficient tool to fight tuberculosis germs and other dangerous bugs. Their results could contribute to the development of new antibiotics that control multi-resistant bacteria.
On the front lines of our defenses against bacteria is the protein calprotectin, which "starves" invading pathogens of metal nutrients. Vanderbilt University investigators now report new insights to the workings of calprotectin—including a detailed structural view of how it binds the metal manganese. Their findings could guide efforts to develop novel antibacterials that limit a microbe's access to metals.
Bacterial biofilms, which diseased groupings of cells found in 80% of infections, are a significant health hazard and one of the biggest headaches for hospitals and their constant battle against disease. Researchers from IBM, with the help of scientists in Singapore, revealed today a synthetic antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and completely eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact. It is the first hydrogel to be biodegradable, biocompatible, and non-toxic.
While working out the structure of a cell-killing protein produced by some strains of the bacterium Enterococcus faecalis, researchers stumbled on a bit of unusual biochemistry. They found that a single enzyme helps form distinctly different, 3D ring structures in the protein, one of which had never been observed before.
Microbiologists who study wild marine microbes, as opposed to the laboratory-grown variety, face enormous challenges in getting a clear picture of the daily activities of their subjects. But a team of scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently figured out how to make the equivalent of a nature film, showing the simultaneous activities of many coexisting species in their native habitat over time.
Cheating is a behavior not limited to humans, animals and plants. Even microscopically small, single-celled algae do it, a team of University of Arizona researchers has discovered. Their research adds to the emerging view that microbes often have active social lives. Unlocking the secrets of those lives could help control serious threats to ecological or human health.
Scientists have identified the chemical "fingerprints" given off by specific bacteria when present in the lungs, potentially allowing for a quick and simple breath test to diagnose infections such as tuberculosis. The researchers have successfully distinguished between different types of bacteria, as well as different strains of the same bacteria, in the lungs of mice by analyzing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in exhaled breath.
Research has shown that alternative antimicrobials such as PlyC can effectively kill bacteria. However, fundamental questions remain about how bacteria respond to the holes that these therapeutics make in their cell wall and what size holes bacteria can withstand before breaking apart. Answering those questions could improve the effectiveness of current antibacterial drugs and initiate the development of new ones. Researchers recently conducted a study to try to answer those questions.