Scientists have been spending nearly a decade trying to pin down the crystalline structure of an enzyme complex that bacteria such as anthrax, leprosy, diptheria, and tuberculosis use to replicate themselves. X-ray analysis at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory now reveals how the enzyme is employed to synthesize a nucleotide these bacteria needs to produce DNA.
Competition is a strong driving force of evolution for organisms of all sizes: Those individuals best equipped to obtain resources adapt and reproduce, while others may fall by the wayside. Many organisms also form cooperative social structures that allow resources to be defended and shared within a population. But surprisingly, even microbes, which are thought to thrive only when able to win the battle for resources against those nearest to them, have a somewhat sophisticated social structure that relies on cooperation, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists.
A new study shows that when enough bacteria get together in one place, they can make a collective decision to grow an appendage and swim away. This type of behavior has been seen for the first time in marine sponges, and could lead to an understanding of how to break up harmful bacterial biofilms, such as plaque on teeth or those found on internal medical devices like artificial heart valves.
An invading bacterium or virus uses proteins to achieve both specific and non-specific binding with the DNA in a cell nucleus. Emory University biophysicists have experimentally demonstrated, for the first time, how the nonspecific binding of a protein known as the lambda repressor, or C1 protein, bends DNA and helps it close a loop that switches off virulence. The work support the idea that nonspecific binding is not so random after all, and plays a critical role in virulence.
Over six frightening months, a deadly germ untreatable by most antibiotics spread in the nation's leading research hospital. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health locked down patients, cleaned with bleach, even ripped out plumbing—and still the germ persisted. It took gene detectives teasing apart the bacteria's DNA to solve the germ's wily spread, a CSI-like saga with lessons for hospitals everywhere as they struggle to contain the growing threat of superbugs.
A humble soil bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha has a natural tendency, whenever it is stressed, to stop growing and put all its energy into making complex carbon compounds. Now scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taught this microbe a new trick: They've tinkered with its genes to persuade it to make fuel—specifically, a kind of alcohol called isobutanol that can be directly substituted for, or blended with, gasoline.
Using state-of-the-art technology, scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered a new class of polymers that are resistant to bacterial attachment. These new materials could lead to a significant reduction in hospital infections and medical device failures.
Pioneered by a multidisciplinary team of researchers and applied onto the business end of artificial skin, nanofilms that release antibacterial silver over time have recently shown they can eradicate bacteria in full-thickness skin wounds in mice.
The secret to the deadly 2011 E. coli outbreak in Germany has been decoded, thanks to research conducted at Michigan State University. The deadliest E. coli outbreak ever was traced to a particularly virulent strain that researchers had never seen in an outbreak before. By focusing on the bacteria's biofilm, the researchers have devised a way to potentially tame the killer bacteria.
In the days following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, methane-eating bacteria bloomed in the Gulf of Mexico, feasting on the methane that gushed, along with oil, from the damaged well. The sudden influx of microbes was a scientific curiosity: Prior to the oil spill, scientists had observed relatively few signs of methane-eating microbes in the area. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a bacterial gene that may explain this sudden influx of methane-eating bacteria.
In a breakthrough effort for computational biology, the world's first complete computer model of an organism has been completed, Stanford University researchers report. A team led by Stanford bioengineering Professor Markus Covert used data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium , the world's smallest free-living bacterium.
University of California, Santa Barbara researchers' discovery of a variation of an enzyme's ability to "hop" as it moves along DNA, modifying the genetic material of a bacteria—and its physical capability and behavior—holds much promise for biomedical and other scientific applications.
A clever new imaging technique discovered at the University of California, Berkeley, reveals a possible plan of attack for many bacterial diseases that form biofilms that make them resistant to antibiotics. By devising a new fluorescent labeling strategy and employing super-resolution light microscopy, the researchers were able to examine the structure of bacterial biofilms that make these infections so tenacious.
Rice University researchers have recently settled a long-standing controversy over the mechanism by which silver nanoparticles, the most widely used nanomaterial in the world, kill bacteria. Scientists have long suspected silver nanoparticles themselves may be toxic to bacteria, but not so. Ionization is the key.
It's a project 500 million years in the making. Only this time, instead of playing on a movie screen in Jurassic Park, it's happening in a laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old-gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli bacteria.
It was a provocative finding: strange bacteria in a California lake that thrived on something completely unexpected—arsenic. What it suggested is that life, a very different kind of life, could possibly exist on some other planet. On Sunday, that same journal, Science , released two papers that rip apart the original research.
Combining an algorithm with a recently-developed add-on technique for commercial microscopes, University of Illinois researchers have created a fast, non-invasive 3D method for studying cells without the use of fluorescence or contrast agents. They recently used the advance to reveal helical sub-cellular structure inside E. coli .
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.