Chemists at the University of California, Davis have engineered blue-green algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics—the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry.
Sandia National Laboratories Truman Fellow Anne Ruffing has engineered two strains of cyanobacteria to produce free fatty acids, a precursor to liquid fuels, but she has also found that the process cuts the bacteria’s production potential.
Researchers have discovered a new compound that restores the health of mice infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an otherwise dangerous bacterial infection. The new compound targets an enzyme not found in human cells but which is essential to bacterial survival.
Certain biological systems living in low light environments have unique protein structures for photosynthesis that use quantum dynamics to convert 100% of absorbed light into electrical charge, displaying astonishing efficiency that could lead to new understanding of renewable solar energy, suggests newly published research from the University of Cambridge.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati report that they have solved the crystal structure of a protein involved in holding bacterial cells together in a biofilm, a major development in their exploration of the causes of hospital-acquired infections.
One approach to understanding components in living organisms is to attempt to create them artificially, using principles of chemistry, engineering, and genetics. A suite of powerful techniques—referred to as synthetic biology—have been used to produce self-replicating molecules, artificial pathways in living systems, and organisms bearing synthetic genomes. In a new twist, researchers have fabricated an artificial protein in the laboratory and examined the surprising ways living cells respond to it.
Every time a human or bacterial cell divides, specialized proteins help copy DNA strands, using the originals as templates. Whenever these proteins encounter a break, they repair proteins to step in and bridge the gap. In a new study, researchers report they have finally identified how one important repair protein, RecA, does it job.
For a modest fee and a stool sample, the truly curious can join one or two unusual new citizen-science projects that represent attempts to find out more about our microbiomes—the colonies of microbes that make up a large part of our bodies’ functions, especially the digestive. Researchers with uBiome and the American Gut Project hope to enroll thousands in the projects.
Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation describe in a new publication a viable community of bacteria that ekes out a living in a dark, salty, and subfreezing environment beneath nearly 20 m of ice in one of Antarctica's most isolated lakes. The finding could have implications for the discovery of life in other extreme environments, including elsewhere in the solar system.
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have developed a new strategy for finding novel antibiotic compounds, using a diagnostic panel of bacterial strains for screening chemical extracts from natural sources. The screening procedure, called BioMAP (antibiotic mode of action profile), promises to streamline the discovery of new antibiotics from natural sources by providing a low-cost, high-throughput platform for identifying compounds with novel antibiotic properties.
Like a homeowner prepping for a hurricane, the bacterium Bacillus subtilis uses a long checklist to prepare for survival in hard times. In a new study, scientists at Rice University and the University of Houston uncovered an elaborate mechanism that allows B. subtilis to begin preparing for survival, even as it delays the ultimate decision of whether to "hunker down" and withdraw into a hardened spore.
Vast amounts of methane are stored under the ocean floor, and anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled to sulfate respiration prevents the release of this gas. Though discovered decades ago, the mechanism for how microorganisms performed this reaction has remained a mystery. According to recent findings, a single microorganism can do this on its own, and does not need to be carried out in collaboration with a bacterium as previously thought.
The food industry is strict in its vigilance toward bacteria in products. Now their efforts may be eased by a new bacteria monitoring method developed by researchers in Germany. The fluorescence of nanoparticles embedded in an agarose growth medium, they report, changes significantly when the pH value changes because of bacterial metabolism. This can be monitored in real time with a simple digital camera.
Bacteria have a bad rap as agents of disease, but scientists are increasingly discovering their many benefits, such as maintaining a healthy gut. A new study now suggests that bacteria may also have helped kick off one of the key events in evolution: the leap from one-celled organisms to many-celled organisms, a development that eventually led to all animals, including humans.
Magnetotactic bacteria are organisms which develop membrane-encapsulated nano-particles known as magnetosomes. Although these microbes were first discovered in 1975, the production of their magnetite crystals is still not fully understood. A researcher in the U.K. is now using computational simulation tools to discover how magnetosomes allow bacteria to orient themselves along the Earth’s magnetic field lines.
The bacteria and microalgae typically used to ferment biofuels don’t react well to bio-oil produced by fast pyrolysis. The result of this thermochemical process is a thick, molasses-like oil that is toxic to the microbes. Researchers at Iowa State University, however, have adopted a hybrid approach that incorporates a biochemical conversion path to improve the microbes’ tolerance to contaminants.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new method for coloring the cell wall of bacterial cells to determine how they grow. Multicolored probes target cell wall synthesis, labeling them with nontoxic dyes. The technique provides a new, much-needed tool for the development of new antibiotics.
Scientists in the U.K. have developed a new technique which has the potential to kill off hospital superbugs like Pseudomonas aeruginosa , C. difficile, and MRSA. The method uses a cold plasma jet to rapidly penetrate dense bacterial structures known as biofilms which bind bacteria together and make them resistant to conventional chemical approaches.
At a time when the value of gold has reached an all-time high, Michigan State University researchers have discovered a bacterium's ability to withstand incredible amounts of toxicity is key to creating 24-karat gold.
If you were a bacterium, the virus M13 might seem innocuous enough. It insinuates more than it invades, setting up shop like a freeloading house guest, not a killer. Once inside it makes itself at home, eating your food, texting indiscriminately. Recently, however, bioengineers at Stanford University have given M13 a bit of a makeover; they have parasitized the parasite and harnessed M13's key attributes to create what might be termed as the biological Internet, or "Bi-Fi."
Watch out, acne. Doctors soon may have a new weapon against zits: A harmless virus living on our skin that naturally seeks out and kills the bacteria that cause pimples. In the new findings, scientists looked at two little microbes that share a big name: Propionibacterium acnes , a bacterium thriving in our pores that can trigger acne, and P. acnes phages, a family of viruses that live on human skin.
Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have demonstrated a better way to use photosynthesis to produce ethylene, a breakthrough that could change the way materials, chemicals, and transportation fuels are made, and help clean the air. The scientists introduced a gene into a cyanobacterium and demonstrated that the organism remained stable through a least four generations, producing ethylene gas that could be easily captured.
When it comes to germ-busting power, the eyes have it, according to a discovery by University of California, Berkeley researchers that could lead to new, inexpensive antimicrobal drugs. A team of vision scientists has found that small fragments of keratin protein in the eye play a key role in warding off pathogens.
Emerging from the investigation of a mysterious nitrogen-fixing microbe that has a very small genome, an international team of investigators has found that certain type of photosynthetic bacteria not only provides nitrogen to its host single-cell algae, it appears now to be the most widespread nitrogen-fixing organism in the oceans.
Several years ago researchers at Michigan State University reported discovering a novel, evolutionary trait in a long-studied population of Escherichia coli . These same biologists have now analyzed this new trait's genetic origins and found that in multiple cases, the bacteria needed more than one mutational step. The finding documents this step-by-step process and highlights the importance of evolutionary changes that alter the physical arrangement of genes, leading to new patterns of gene regulation.