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Twisted Microbiology
All about microbes
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Bacterial tricks for turning plants into zombies

Bacterial tricks for turning plants into zombies | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

Many parasites commandeer the bodies of their hosts in order to spread. Examples of this include horsehair worms that reach water by forcing their cricket hosts to drown themselves, and liver flukes that drive infected ants to climb blades of grass, where cows can eat the insects, and so the flukes. But parasites can turn plants into zombies, too — and a team of scientists from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, has now discovered how they do it.

 

When plants are infected by parasitic bacteria called phytoplasmas, their flowers turn into leafy shoots, their petals turn green and they develop a mass of shoots called ‘witches’ brooms’. This transformation sterilizes the plant, while attracting the sap-sucking insects that carry the bacteria to new hosts. “The plant appears alive, but it’s only there for the good of the pathogen,” says plant pathologist Saskia Hogenhout from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. “In an evolutionary sense, the plant is dead and will not produce offspring.” “Many might baulk at the concept of a zombie plant because the idea of plants behaving is strange,” says David Hughes, a parasitologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “But they do, and since they do, why wouldn't parasites have evolved to take over their behaviour, as they do for ants and crickets?”


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL
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'Microbial Pompeii:' 1,000-year-old plaque preserves bacteria, microscopic particles of food on skeleton teeth

'Microbial Pompeii:' 1,000-year-old plaque preserves bacteria, microscopic particles of food on skeleton teeth | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
A ‘microbial Pompeii’ has been discovered, preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old. Via @microbetweets @helenloubrown
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Infections: War's true beneficiaries

Infections: War's true beneficiaries | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

History has repeatedly shown that contagion makes an easy bedfellow with human conflict.

 

Via @SarahMaddocks

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Influenzanet: monitoring influenza-like-illness with the aid of volunteers via the internet

Influenzanet: monitoring influenza-like-illness with the aid of volunteers via the internet | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

Currently over 28,000 volunteers from 10 European countries are contributing to Influenzanet. In contrast with the traditional system of sentinel networks of mainly primary care physicians, Influenzanet obtains its data directly from the population.

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Hipster bacteria hate the tropics (it’s too mainstream)

Hipster bacteria hate the tropics (it’s too mainstream) | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
Terrestrial biologists have it easy (especially those that work in the tropics) - they can just book a plane ticket and wander around the forest, Tra la la la
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Bill Gates: Prioritizing Worldwide Internet Access Over Malaria Research Is A 'Joke'

Bill Gates: Prioritizing Worldwide Internet Access Over Malaria Research Is A 'Joke' | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
Technology is "amazing," Bill Gates told the Financial Times in a recent interview, but it's not going to save the world.
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On the Microbial Frontier, Cheaters Rarely Prosper

On the Microbial Frontier, Cheaters Rarely Prosper | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

Despite their single-cell status, microbes are capable of striking feats of cooperation: They can secrete polymers that enable them to stick together and form biofilms in order to defend themselves against antibiotics and other poisons. They can manufacture large volumes of lubricants that allow a colony to swarm over soft surfaces, and they can even produce iron-scavenging molecules that allow them to live in iron-poor environments, such as a human host. This diverse behavioral repertoire poses a major question in evolution: Given the selfish nature of natural selection, how can cooperators triumph?

 

Via @bluemm79

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Nature Outlook : Tuberculosis

Nature Outlook : Tuberculosis | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
Drug resistance and the HIV pandemic have thwarted efforts to rid the world of humanity's biggest killer Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We need new types of safe drug, a practical point-of-care diagnostic and ultimately an effective vaccine if we are ever to eliminate tuberculosis. But first we need a better understanding of the underlying biology. FREE FULL ACCESS
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My dishwasher is trying to kill me: Extreme conditions suit pathogenic fungus

My dishwasher is trying to kill me: Extreme conditions suit pathogenic fungus | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

A potentially pathogenic fungus has found a home living in extreme conditions in some of the most common household appliances.

 

Via @JessicaLeeGreen

 

Research paper:

"Dishwashers – A man-made ecological niche accommodating human opportunistic fungal pathogens"

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.funbio.2011.04.007


Via Maria Nunzia @Varvera , Jessica Green
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Microbes 'cheaper, fairer' for boosting yields than GM plants

Microbes 'cheaper, fairer' for boosting yields than GM plants | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
Microbes could boost crop yields and reduce the need for fertilisers at lower cost than GM crops, says an expert.
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CSI Microbiome: Using Corpse Flora to Establish Time of Death

CSI Microbiome: Using Corpse Flora to Establish Time of Death | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
A microbial clock--a sequence of postmortem microbial community changes--gives accurate estimates of the postmortem interval. Via @MyBioTechniques
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What’s superbugging you?

What’s superbugging you? | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

"You may be worried about a government shutdown, but I’m not. I’m not worried about a shutdown because we’re all about to die anyway. Superbugs are going to kill us."

 

Via @phylogenomics

 

Image: Nick D. Kim.

Image source: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050112

 

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'White plague' coral deaths caused by viruses

'White plague' coral deaths caused by viruses | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

Some viruses are associated with a dramatic increase in the white plague that has erupted in recent decades on marine corals in the Caribbean Sea.

 

Via @ProMED_mail

 

Read some clarifying info at the bottom of the ProMED-mail page here:

http://beta.promedmail.org/direct.php?id=20130921.1958625

 

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Tough austerity measures in Greece leave nearly a million people with no access to healthcare, leading to soaring infant mortality, HIV infection and suicide

Tough austerity measures in Greece leave nearly a million people with no access to healthcare, leading to soaring infant mortality, HIV infection and suicide | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
Austerity measures imposed by the Greek government since the economic crisis have inflicted “shocking” harm on the health of the population, leaving nearly a million people without access to healthcare, experts have said.
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Food fuelled with fungi

Food fuelled with fungi | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

With the planet’s population booming and climate change threatening traditional ‘bread-basket’ regions, researchers are seeking ways to squeeze more food from the land. Some are taking a sideways approach: instead of trying to produce hardier crops through breeding or genetic modification, they are manipulating the vast array of symbiotic microorganisms that live in plants.

 

Via @UofEHL

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End of line for hard-to-detect malaria?

End of line for hard-to-detect malaria? | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

Asymptomatic malaria can be hard to detect with existing low-cost test kits. A new mobile test device has far more sensitive molecular DNA detection. It can also collect data on malaria incidence and will be trialled in Africa.

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Going viral: modified viruses boost battery performance

"A battery that could store more power in the same amount of weight as widely used lithium-ion cells could, for instance, allow smartphones to run for weeks on a single charge or an electric car to be driven non-stop for hundreds of kilometres. Among the alternatives being explored, lithium-air batteries are a favourite. But they can be tricky to make and unreliable. Now researchers have found a way to overcome some of those shortcomings with the help of genetically modified viruses."

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Malaria: Better to prevent than to treat

Nature reporter Amy Maxmen travelled to Mali and Senegal to learn about a new strategy for protecting children against malaria during the rainy season. Read ...
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The Wellcome Trust 2013 winning entry: where did syphilis come from?

The Wellcome Trust 2013 winning entry: where did syphilis come from? | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
Did Columbus really bring syphilis back with him from the New World, asks Katherine Wright, winner of the 2013 Wellcome Trust science writing prize. Via @MicroBytes
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Persistence and Politics In Chronic Lyme Disease Research

Persistence and Politics In Chronic Lyme Disease Research | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
"The story of the controversy over Lyme disease research and treatment guidelines seems so strange to me, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't gotten Lyme disease and ended up looking into it myself..."
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13-year-old Indian girl begins microbiology master's

13-year-old Indian girl begins microbiology master's | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

The 13-year-old girl from a poor family in north India has enrolled in a master's degree in microbiology, after her father sold his land to pay for some of his daughter's tuition in the hope of catapulting her into India's growing middle class.

 

Via @KristaMarquis

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Wellcome Image of the Week: Diatom

Wellcome Image of the Week: Diatom | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

You could mistake it for a pattern created with a classic “Spirograph” toy, but our image of the week is actually algae. Diatoms, a form of algae, are single-celled organisms that can exist as colonies. They are found in most aquatic environments, and are responsible for a significant amount of marine photosynthesis.

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An open source microscope

A cheap professional microscope based on open-source technologies has been developed by a group of engineers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
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Invisible Life » Rhodopseudomonas palustris

Invisible Life » Rhodopseudomonas palustris | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it
For most of history, it was assumed that all organisms ultimately got their energy from carbon. However, during the same era that Jack the Ripper roamed London and Sitting Bull eluded the U.S. Calvary, Sergei Winogradsky began to uncover a world of other kinds of “food:” energy sources no one had remotely anticipated, revealing the very Earth and sky to be edible. Via @gilbertjacka
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Lanthanide-munching bacteria found in volcanoes

Lanthanide-munching bacteria found in volcanoes | Twisted Microbiology | Scoop.it

A microbe found in volcanic mudpots needs rare earth metals to survive. The bacterium incorporates a lanthanide ion into its methane digesting enzyme, methanol dehydrogenase, which generates the energy needed for growth. In other methanotrophs this role is usually performed by calcium ions.

 

Via @MicrobeWorld

 

Research paper:

"Rare earth metals are essential for methanotrophic life in volcanic mudpots"

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.12249

 

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