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Solar-powered nanofilters pump in antibiotics to clean contaminated water

May 1, 2013 12:39 pm | News | Comments

Using the same devious mechanism that enables some bacteria to shrug off powerful antibiotics, scientists have developed solar-powered nanofilters that remove antibiotics from the water in lakes and rivers twice as efficiently as the best existing technology.

Germ-zapping robots: Hospitals combat superbugs

April 29, 2013 10:49 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

They sweep. They swab. They sterilize. And still the germs persist. In U.S. hospitals, an estimated 1 in 20 patients pick up infections they didn't have when they arrived. This causes hospitals to try all sorts of new approaches to stop their spread, including machines that resemble "Star Wars" robots and emit ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide vapors.

Genetic circuit allows both individual freedom, collective good

April 22, 2013 7:42 am | News | Comments

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.

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Random walks on DNA

April 19, 2013 10:19 am | News | Comments

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.

How waterborne bacteria colonizes on rough surfaces

April 12, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

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.

Team finds protein that increases inflammation, and agents that block it

April 1, 2013 12:23 pm | News | Comments

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.

Researchers find surprising similarities between genetic, computer codes

March 29, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

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.

A solution to antibiotic-resistant bacteria

March 28, 2013 8:35 am | News | Comments

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.

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Fake Shewanella reveals how bacteria breathe iron

March 26, 2013 8:13 am | News | Comments

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.

Bacterial byproduct offers route to avoiding antibiotic resistance

March 22, 2013 8:43 am | News | Comments

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.

Cryo-electron microscopy unlocks biochemical methane production

March 20, 2013 2:17 pm | News | Comments

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

Human microbe study provides insight into health, disease

March 19, 2013 9:07 am | News | Comments

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.

Researchers divide enzyme to conquer genetic puzzle

March 14, 2013 1:38 pm | News | Comments

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.

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Researchers trick bacteria to deliver a safer vaccine

March 13, 2013 10:25 am | News | Comments

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.

Mysterious bacterium found in Antarctic lake

March 13, 2013 9:57 am | by Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

How to thrive in battery acid and among toxic metals

March 8, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

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.

New hypothesis formulated to explain bacteria’s increasing toughness

March 7, 2013 10:38 am | News | Comments

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.

How do bacteria clog medical devices? Very quickly.

March 1, 2013 2:46 pm | News | Comments

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

Yeast study yields potential for new drugs

February 25, 2013 1:20 pm | News | Comments

While studying a mutant strain of yeast, Purdue University researchers may have found a new target for drugs to combat cholesterol and fungal diseases.

Scientists unveil secrets of important natural antibiotic

February 21, 2013 1:38 pm | News | Comments

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.

Antibacterial protein's molecular workings revealed

February 21, 2013 11:05 am | News | Comments

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.

New antimicrobial hydrogels fight superbugs and drug-resistant biofilms

January 24, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

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.

Odd biochemistry yields lethal bacterial protein

January 22, 2013 10:22 am | News | Comments

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.

Eavesdropping on the hidden lives of microbes

January 22, 2013 7:41 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

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.

Single-celled algae shed light on social lives of microbes

January 21, 2013 4:58 pm | News | Comments

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.

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