With metabolically engineered microorganisms hungry for levulinic acid rather than sugar, a University of Wisconsin-Madison chemical and biological engineer aims to create more sustainable, cost-effective processes for converting biomass into high-energy-density hydrocarbon fuels.
City officials in Medellín, Colombia, recently faced the difficult task of relocating an entire neighborhood off of a contaminated landfill they were using to grow food and collect water. Unable to pay for removal, officials may have found another way: Researchers at the University of Illinois have put together an experiment to see if biological agents could be used to neutralize the hydrocarbon contaminants at the site.
A coating of selenium nanoparticles significantly reduces the growth of Staphylococcus aureus on polycarbonate, a material common in implanted devices such as catheters and endotracheal tubes, engineers at Brown University report in a new study.
A key component found in an ancient anaerobic microorganism may serve as a sensor to detect potentially fatal oxygen, a University of Arkansas researcher and his colleagues have found. This helps researchers learn more about the function of these components, called iron-sulfur clusters, which occur in different parts of cells in all living creatures.
The landmark publication this week of a “map” of the bacterial make-up of healthy humans required the work of 200 scientists, who made sense of more than 5,000 samples of human and bacterial DNA and 3.5 terabases of genomic data. The map should help us define and track the microbiome.
Life gets little encouragement on the incredibly dry volcanic slopes of the Atacama region, where sparse snow is quickly sublimated and nitrogen is so scant it is below detection limits. Yet, researchers recently found life here, including bacteria, fungi, and archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.
In the early 1990s, overfishing led to the collapse of one of the most bountiful cod fisheries in the world, off the coast of Newfoundland. Twenty years later, the cod population still has not recovered. To explain this kind of collapse, ecologists have long theorized that populations suffering a decline in environmental conditions appear stable until they reach a tipping point where the population plummets. Recovery from such collapses is nearly impossible. Now a study has offered the first experimental validation of this theory.
Doctors can now get a peek behind the eardrum to better diagnose and treat chronic ear infections, thanks to a new medical imaging device invented by University of Illinois researchers. The device could usher in a new suite of noninvasive, 3D diagnostic imaging tools for primary-care physicians.
For 50 years scientists have been unsure how the bacteria that gives humans cholera manages to resist one of our basic innate immune responses. That mystery has now been solved, thanks to research from biologists at The University of Texas at Austin. The answers may help clear the way for a new class of antibiotics that don't directly shut down pathogenic bacteria, but instead disable their defenses so that our own immune systems can do the killing.
Researchers at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory have invented a simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease-causing bacteria—even the armor-coated spores of microbes like anthrax—in minutes.
Hundreds of tiny hollow needles stick out of the membrane of a bacteria that causes cholera. These are treacherous tools that makes bacterial pathogens so dangerous. Researchers in the U.S. and Germany have now seen this structure in 3D detail at atomic resolution. The images may help drug researchers.
Some remarkable types of bacteria have proven themselves capable of "consuming" toxic pollutants, organically diminishing environmental impact in a process called bioremediation. Enzymes within these bacteria can effectively alter the molecular structure of dangerous chemicals, but the underlying mechanisms and keys to future advances often remain unknown. Now, scientists Brookhaven National Laboratory have revealed a possible explanation for the superior function of one pollution-degrading enzyme.
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.