“We assume that microbes evolved to attack humans when actually we are just civilian casualties in a much older war (@edyong209 #microbiology | When #microbes kill us, it‘s often by accident – Ed Yong – Aeon”
The genetic code has traditionally been viewed as a universal set of instructions, exquisitely tuned to maintain robust stability and allow evolution-sustaining mutations. But the pervasive occurrence of recoded stop codons, and the backchannel...
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.
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.
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.
"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."
"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..."
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.
Esther Lederberg was a microbiologist and pioneer of bacterial genetics. While Lederberg deserved credit for the discovery of lambda phage, her work on the F fertility factor, and especially, replica plating, she never received...
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?”
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.
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?
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