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June- 2018

   

Scientists create 'genetic atlas' of proteins in human blood

            An international team of researchers has created the first detailed genetic map of human proteins, the key building blocks of biology. These discoveries promise to enhance our understanding of a wide range of diseases and aid development of new drugs.

Source: sciencedaily

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Link between bacteria metabolism and communication could pave way for new drugs

            Researchers have discovered a link between bacteria metabolism and cell-to-cell communication, potentially providing a target for new antivirulence and antibiofilm drugs.

Source: sciencedaily

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Immunization with beneficial bacteria makes brain more stress resilient

            Rats immunized weekly for three weeks with beneficial bacteria showed increased levels of anti-inflammatory proteins in the brain, more resilience to the physical effects of stress, and less anxiety-like behavior. If replicated in humans, researchers say the findings could lead to novel microbiome-based immunizations for mood disorders like anxiety and PTSD. s

Source: sciencedaily

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Organic insect deterrent for agriculture

            Traditional insecticides are killers: they not only kill pests, they also endanger bees and other beneficial insects, as well as affecting biodiversity in soils, lakes, rivers and seas. A team has now developed an alternative: A biodegradable agent that keeps pests at bay without poisoning them.

Source: sciencedaily

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Large-scale study indicates novel, abundant nitrogen-fixing microbes in surface ocean

            A large-scale study of the Earth's surface ocean indicates the microbes responsible for fixing nitrogen there previously thought to be almost exclusively photosynthetic cyanobacteria include an abundant and widely distributed suite of non-photosynthetic bacterial populations.

Source: sciencedaily

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Nano-decorations in nature's subsurface water filter

            When bacteria and viruses get into well water and make people sick, often the contamination comes after heavy rain or flooding. In 2000, more than 2,300 people in Walkerton, Ontario, got sick when, after unusually heavy rains. E. coli bacteria found their way to drinking water wells. Seven people died.

Source: sciencedaily

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May- 2018

   

Complementing conventional antibiotics

            Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major medical problem worldwide, impacting both human health and economic well-being. Scientists have now developed a new strategy for fighting bacteria. The scientists revealed the molecular action mechanism of a Legionella toxin and developed a first inhibitor.

Source: sciencedaily

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Blood type affects severity of diarrhea caused by E. coli

            A new study shows that a kind of E. coli most associated with 'travelers' diarrhea' and children in underdeveloped areas of the world causes more severe disease in people with blood type A. The bacteria release a protein that latches onto intestinal cells in people with blood type A, but not blood type O or B, according to a new study.

Source: sciencedaily

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Exploration of diverse bacteria signals big advance for gene function prediction

            Scientists have developed a workflow that enables large-scale, genome-wide assays of gene importance across many conditions. The study, 'Mutant Phenotypes for Thousands of Bacterial Genes of Unknown Function,' has been published in the journal Nature and is by far the largest functional genomics study of bacteria ever published.

Source: sciencedaily

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How the gut influences neurologic disease

            A study sheds new light on the connection between the gut and the brain, untangling the complex interplay that allows the byproducts of microorganisms living in the gut to influence the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Source: sciencedaily

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New lineage of microbes living in Yellowstone sheds light on origin of life

            Scientists have found a new lineage of microbes living in Yellowstone National Park's thermal features that sheds light on the origin of life, the evolution of archaeal life and the importance of iron in early life.

Source: sciencedaily

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Dietary seaweed used to manipulate gut bacteria in mice

            Scientists working with laboratory mice have shown that it's possible to favor the engraftment of one gut bacterial strain over others by manipulating the mice's diet. The researchers also have shown it's possible to control how much a bacterium grows in the intestine by calibrating the amount of a specific carbohydrate in each mouse's water or food.

Source: sciencedaily

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A gut bacterium's guide to building a microbiome

            Many studies have linked the gut microbiome to health and disease. New research reveals mechanisms utilized by gut bacteria to assemble a microbiome in the first place.

Source: sciencedaily

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April- 2018

   

Newly identified bacteria may help bees nourish their young

            Researchers have isolated three previously unknown bacterial species from wild bees and flowers. The bacteria, which belong to the genus Lactobacillus, may play a role in preserving the nectar and pollen that female bees store in their nests as food for their larvae.

Source: sciencedaily

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The microbiome of a native plant is much more resilient than expected

            The microbiome, which consists of all microorganisms that live on or in plants, animals and also humans, is important for the health and development of these organisms. Scientists investigated how a plant responds to manipulations of its microbial associations. The results indicate that the enormous bacterial diversity residing in natural soils may account for the stability of the plant-microbiome relationship.

Source: sciencedaily

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Found: A new form of DNA in our cells

            In a world first, researchers have identified a new DNA structure called the i-motif inside cells. A twisted 'knot' of DNA, the i-motif has never before been directly seen inside living cells.

Source: sciencedaily

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Researchers assassinate disease-causing bacteria with virus cocktail

            Researchers have succeeded in targeting and killing E. coli without causing harm to the surrounding community of commensal bacteria in a simulated small intestinal microbiome using a cocktail of viruses (bacteriophages). The study proved that this approach is as effective as using broad-spectrum antibiotics. The experiment underlines the potential of using bacteriophages for target-specific manipulation of complex microbial communities and potentially replacing or supplementing usage of antibiotics against bacterial diseases.

Source: sciencedaily

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Scientists find link between increases in local temperature and antibiotic resistance

            Bacteria have long been thought to develop antibiotic resistance largely due to repeated exposure through over-prescribing. But could much bigger environmental pressures be at play?

Source: sciencedaily

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Restricting unwanted immune reactions

            Researchers have decoded a mechanism found at the beginning of almost every inflammatory response. Their study provides a new approach to develop novel treatment options for many inflammatory disorders with many fewer side effects compared to current drugs.

Source: sciencedaily

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March- 2018

   

A new direction for halting the citrus greening epidemic

            New clues to how the bacteria associated with citrus greening infect the only insect that carries them could lead to a way to block the microbes' spread from tree to tree, according to a new study.

Source: sciencedaily

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Fixing soybean's need for nitrogen

            To make protein, soybean plants need a lot of nitrogen. Beneficial bacteria in root nodules typically assist. A new study shows it's possible to increase the number of soybean root nodules--and the bacteria that live there--to further increase crop yields. This could remove the need to apply additional nitrogen fertilizers.

Source: sciencedaily

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Low-tech, affordable solutions to improve water quality

            Most of us are used to turning on a tap and water coming out. We rarely question whether this will happen or whether the water is clean enough to bathe in or drink. Though the process of maintaining water quality is practically invisible to most of us, removing bacteria and contaminants from water requires a lot of effort from both humans and treatment systems alike.

Source: sciencedaily

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Climate models need to take into account the interaction between methane, the Arctic Ocean and ice

            On the seafloor of the shallow coastal regions north of Siberia, microorganisms produce methane when they break down plant remains. If this greenhouse gas finds its way into the water, it can also become trapped in the sea ice that forms in these coastal waters. As a result, the gas can be transported thousands of kilometres across the Arctic Ocean and released in a completely different region months later. This phenomenon is the subject of an article by researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, published in the current issue of the online journal Scientific Reports. Although this interaction between methane, ocean and ice has a significant influence on climate change, to date it has not been reflected in climate models.

Source: sciencedaily

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Soil fungi may help determine the resilience of forests to environmental change

            Nature is rife with symbiotic relationships, some of which take place out of sight, like the rich underground exchange of nutrients that occurs between trees and soil fungi.

Source: sciencedaily

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CRISPR genetic editing takes another big step forward, targeting RNA

            "Bioengineers are like nature's detectives, searching for clues in patterns of DNA to help solve the mysteries of genetic diseases," says Patrick Hsu, a Helmsley-Salk Fellow and senior author of the new paper. "CRISPR has revolutionized genome engineering, and we wanted to expand the toolbox from DNA to RNA."

Source: sciencedaily

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February- 2018

   

Humpback microbiome linked to seasonal, environmental changes

            The study, which is the largest-ever of the whale microbiome, shows that monitoring whale’s skin microbes could offer a way to assess their health and nutrition over different seasons and environmental circumstances, and also to detect how they are affected by climate change and human-caused impacts on ocean ecosystems. The paper published, in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Source: phys

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Problems with herbicide-resistant weeds become crystal clear

             Penoxsulam (in yellow) binds to the surface of the enzyme (acetohydroxyacid synthase) in the weed and control them. Penoxsulam is a leading herbicide for crop protection especially for rice (background) and wheat.

Source: phys

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Genetic study of soil organisms reveals new family of antibiotics

             A team of researchers at Rockefeller University has discovered a new family of antibiotics by conducting a genetic study of a wide range of soil microorganism antibiotics. In their paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the group describes their study and how well samples of the new antibiotic worked in rats.

Source: phys

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Scientists identify factors which drive the evolution of herbicide resistance

           Scientists from the University of Sheffield have identified factors which are driving the evolution of herbicide resistance in crops - something which could also have an impact on medicine as well as agriculture. Xenobiotic chemicals, such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and antibiotics, are used in both agriculture and healthcare to manage pests and diseases. However, resistance has evolved to all these types of xenobiotics, rendering them ineffective with serious consequences for crop production and health. The new study, led by researchers from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, gives an important insight into how we can learn from past management of agricultural systems to reduce the likelihood of resistance evolving in the future.

Source: phys

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Giant viruses may play an intriguing role in evolution of life on Earth

            In a new study, a University of Iowa biologist identified a virus family whose set of genes is similar to that of eukaryotes, an organism classification that includes all plants and animals. The finding is important because it helps clarify how eukaryotes evolved after branching from prokaryotes some 2 billion years ago.

Source: phys

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January- 2018

   

Scientists elucidate the mechanism for inserting protein

            Researchers at the University of Freiburg have succeeded in describing how so-called beta-barrel proteins are inserted into the membranes of mitochondria. The proteins enable mitochondria to import and export molecules. With this discovery, the team led by Prof. Dr. Nils Wiedemann and Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Pfanner, in cooperation with the group of Prof. Dr. Carola Hunte, has clarified a fundamental question of protein biochemistry. The findings are published in the journal Science.

Source: phys

molecules into the outer compartment of mitochondria

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A non-tailed twist in the viral tale

           Viruses that contain a tail structure are the most common type of bacterium-infecting virus (bacteriophage) cultured in the laboratory or represented in DNA databases. However, in samples taken from marine environments, non-tailed viruses are more common. Kauffman et al report a previously unknown family of non-tailed marine viruses. a, T4, an example of a tailed virus. Its 169-kilobase genome is enclosed in a capsid structure, made of protein (dark purple), that is 111 nanometres long. The average capsid length for tailed marine viruses is 65 nm. The tail structures in certain other types of tailed virus have a different shape from that of T4. b, The cortovirus PM2, one of the few non-tailed marine bacteriophages identified so far. PM2 has lipid (yellow) associated with its capsid. Non-tailed marine viruses have an average capsid size of 54 nm. c, An autolykivirus, a member of a family of non-tailed marine viruses identified by Kauffman et al. The properties of these bacteriophages are consistent with the presence of lipid.

Source: nature

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Neuronal plasticity in nematode worms

           Hart and Hobert examined the neuron DVB in nematode worms (Caenorhabditis elegans). They report that, between days one and five of adulthood in male worms, DVB grows towards, and makes synaptic connections onto, spicule protractor muscles and the spicule neuron SPC, which control a male-specific mating behaviour involving movement of a structure called the spicule. This outgrowth is regulated, at least in part, by two cell-adhesion proteins: neurexin is expressed by DVB and promotes outgrowth; and neuroligin is expressed by the spicule protractor muscles and SPC, and inhibits outgrowth. The authors show that the expression of neuroligin is repressed when the male undergoes copulatory behaviours, activating these muscles and SPC — DVB outgrowth is therefore activity dependent.

Source: nature

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Hijacker parasite blocked from infiltrating blood

            A major international collaboration led by Melbourne researchers has discovered that the world's most widespread malaria parasite infects humans by hijacking a protein the body cannot live without. The researchers were then able to successfully develop antibodies that disabled the parasite from carrying out this activity.

Source: phys

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Ultrasound approach tracks gut microbes

           Bourdeau et al. genetically engineered bacteria to express what they term acoustic response genes (ARG), which encode the components of hollow structures called gas vesicles that scatter sound waves and generate an echo that can be detected by ultrasound. Pressure-pulse application causes gas-vesicle collapse and disappearance of the ultrasound signal, which can be used to improve signal detection when tracking the location of cells containing gas vesicles. This approach enables in vivo monitoring of a cell population deep within the mouse gut that cannot be tracked by light microscopy. b, The authors engineered two types of gas vesicle (red and blue) that collapse at different pressure-pulse levels, enabling cells containing these vesicles to be distinguished using ultrasound. One possible application of this work might be to introduce two bacterial strains that each contain one type of these gas vesicles into a mouse. This would enable non-invasive in vivo temporal and spatial monitoring of the dynamics of two distinct bacterial populations in the gut in regions such as the small intestine or colon.

Source: nature

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Ocean thermometer from the past

           Measurements of noble gases trapped in the ice core have been used to construct a record of global mean ocean temperatures 22,000–8,000 years ago.

Source: nature

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December- 2017

   

How fungus manipulate fruit flies into hosting spores and releasing them

           A team of researchers at the University of California has learned more about the means by which a type of fungus invades fruit flies, takes over their bodies and uses them to reproduce. Wild drosophilids killed by Entomophthora muscae Berkeley. A) Cadavers found among sampled flies 65 minutes (above) and 40 minutes (below) after sunset. E. muscae Berkeley has not grown through the host cuticle. B) Cadavers found among sampled flies 120 minutes (above) and 160 minutes (below) after sunset. E. muscae Berkeley has grown through the host cuticle and will soon start to eject conidia. C) Cadavers as discovered in situ in fendel at least 12 hours after sunset. E. muscae Berkeley has grown through the host cuticle and ejected conidia, some of which have landed on the cadavers’ wings.

Source: phys

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Study suggests dangerous crop fungus produces toxic chemical to repel insects

           A team of researchers from Cornell and North Carolina State University has conducted a study examining a possible connection between a toxin produced by a crop-damaging fungus and insects that may attempt to feed on it.

Source: phys

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Storming the castle: New discovery in the fight against bacteria

            Bacteria must sense and respond to changes in their environment to survive, and their exterior membranes are their first line of defense. Exciting new research reveals a previously unappreciated aspect of this defense, which could be exploited to render antibiotic-resistant bacteria beatable.

Source: phys

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Dengue 'Achilles heel' insight offers hope for better vaccines

           Researchers have new insights into how protective antibodies attack dengue viruses, which could lead to more effective dengue fever vaccines and drug therapies.

Source: phys

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New strategy could enable existing drugs to kill bacteria that cause chronic infections

           MIT researchers have discovered a way to make bacteria more vulnerable to a class of antibiotics known as quinolones, which include ciprofloxacin and are often used to treat infections such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

Source: phys

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November- 2017

   

Study finds dogs are brainier than cats

           The first study to actually count the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of carnivores, including cats and dogs, has found that dogs possess significantly more neurons than cats, raccoons have as many neurons as a primate packed into a brain the size of a cat's, and bears have the same number of neurons as a cat packed into a much larger brain.

Source: phys

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A new strategy used by Helicobacter pylori to target mitochondria

           Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and CNRS have recently identified new strategies used by Helicobacter pylori bacteria to infect cells. By specifically targeting mitochondria, these bacteria, despite being extracellular, can optimize infection in the host. These findings pave the way for new strategies to combat H. pylori infection, which is associated with most cases of gastric cancer and several other gastric disorders.

Source: phys

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Newfound protein may prevent viral infection and herpes-induced cancer

           The researchers found a protein that helps prevent human herpes virus 8 from replicating by detecting a specific modification on viral messenger RNA.

Source: phys

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New pathways, better biofuels

           The mass manufacture of biofuels could hold the key to greener, more environmentally sound energy, transportation and product options. Scientists have previously engineered metabolic pathways of microbes, making them tiny biofuel factories. Now, new research from an engineer at Washington University in St. Louis further refines the process, stitching together the best bits of several different bacteria to synthesize a new biofuel product that matches current engines better than previously produced biofuels.

Source: phys

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New study finds mycobacteria can sense presence of proteins that cause disease

           Tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria use a select group of proteins known as virulence factors to transmit the disease, which infects roughly one third of the world's population and causes 1.7 million deaths annually. Those proteins are cargo transported by molecular machinery, a microscopic gateway that promotes the survival of bacteria in the host.

Source: phys

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The genome of Leishmania reveals how this parasite adapts to environmental changes

           Leishmaniasis is an important human and veterinary disease caused by Leishmania parasites that affect 12 million people in over 98 endemic countries. The disease is now emerging in Europe due to climate change and massive population displacement. The parasite is known to rapidly adapt to novel environments with important consequences for disease outcome.

Source: phys

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October- 2017

   

Gut bacterium indirectly causes symptoms by altering fruit fly microbiome

           CagA, a protein produced by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, can alter the population of microbes living in the fruit fly gut, leading to disease symptoms, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens by Tiffani Jones and Karen Guillemin of the University of Oregon.

Source: phys

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Sleeping sickness can now be cured with pills

            For the first time, researchers have cured the deadly neurological disease sleeping sickness using pills instead of a combination of intravenous infusions and pills. The investigators presented the results from final clinical trials at the European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health in Antwerp, Belgium, providing hope that the treatment will help to eliminate the malady within a decade. The oral therapy called fexinidazole cured 91% of people with severe sleeping sickness, compared with 98% who were treated with the combination therapy. It also cured 99% of people in an early stage of the disease who would typically undergo a spinal tap to determine whether they needed infusions. The relative ease of the treatment with fexinidazole means that if approved, it might save more lives than the current option, say the investigators leading the phase 3 trial, the final phase of testing before the drug goes to regulators for approval.

Source: nature

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Yeast spotlights genetic variation's link to drug resistance

           Researchers have shown that genetic diversity plays a key role in enabling drug resistance to evolve. Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Institute for Research on Cancer and Ageing of Nice in France, show that high genetic diversity can prime new mutations that cause drug resistance. The study published in Cell Reports has implications for our understanding of the evolution of resistance to antimicrobial and anticancer drugs.

Source: phys

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Mixed organization of gut bacteria is revealed by microbiome imaging technology

           In a new collaborative study, scientists from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, the Forsyth Institute, and Washington University in St. Louis established a simplified, model human gut microbiome in germ-free mice and revealed its structure through imaging technologies developed at the MBL. The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: phys

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DNA-Delivered Antibodies Fight Off Lethal Bacterial Infection

           US researchers have successfully delivered a monoclonal antibody against a severe bacterial infection using DNA. This is the first time such a platform has been used for a bacterial target. Mice injected with the genetic sequence for a monoclonal antibody survived inoculation with the life-threating, multidrug-resistant pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, providing a proof-of-concept for a potentially cheaper and faster alternative to current monoclonal antibody treatments. The findings were published in Nature Communications.

Source: the scientist

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September- 2017

   

Infection During Pregnancy Tied to Autism in Mouse Model

           Gut bacteria appear to be mediators of the untoward effects infection on offspring during pregnancy, according to a study in mice published in Nature. Researchers found that pups developed autism-like behaviors if their mothers were exposed to an infection while pregnant, but only if certain bacterial strains were present

Source: the scientist

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Booger Bacteria’s Sweet Immune Suppression

          Staphylococcus bacteria from people’s noses produce amino acids that activate sweet taste receptors present on sinus cells restraining secretions of antimicrobial proteins in the sinus. According to the report published in Science Signaling pharmaceutical inhibition of these receptors may have the potential to treat sinus infections.

Source: the scientist

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How Microbes May Influence Our Behavior

           A recent study reported a link between the microbiome and fear. By examining mice with and without gut bacteria, they discovered that the germ-free mice had blunted fear responses. Their findings may pave the way for the development of novel treatments for anxiety-related illnesses, including posttraumatic stress disorder.

Source: the scientist

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August- 2017

   

The outsized role of soil microbes

          Many complexities of the carbon sequestration process remain poorly understood, despite years of research and the significant impact of this process on global climate. Now, three scientists have proposed a new approach to better understand the role of soil organic matter in long-term carbon storage and its response to changes in global climate and atmospheric chemistry.

Source: phys

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A Bacterial Messenger Molecule Extends Healthspan

           Mice, like any other animal, do not age gracefully—they lose weight, move less, and their coats become patchy. But mice of a particular strain in Daniel Kalman's lab at Emory University School of Medicine ward off these declines. The secret, Kalman has found, is in the animals’ guts. In a study published in PNAS, Kalman and colleagues showed that indole, a molecule produced by commensal bacteria, extends “healthspan” not only in mice but in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans and in fruit flies as well. Taking away the bacterial production of the molecule ablated these anti-aging gains.

Source: The scientist

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Hunter-gatherer Microbiomes Cycle with the Seasons

          Fewer than 200 Hadza people live as hunter-gatherers near the shore of Lake Eyasi in Tanzania. In a study published in Science, a team led by Justin Sonnenburg of Stanford University had showed that their gut microbiota composition cycles with the Tanzanian seasons. The authors also found a clear segregation in the make-up of the microbiome between non-industrialized and industrialized populations.

Source: The scientist

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New way to treat HIV identified

           Medical treatment that targets human proteins rather than ever-mutating viruses may one day help HIV-positive people whose bodies have built a resistance to 'cocktails' currently used to keep them healthy. Now researchers have pinpointed a protein variant that can be targeted to prevent the human immunodeficiency virus from harming HIV-positive individuals.

Source: sciencedaily

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Seeding the Gut Microbiome Prevents Sepsis in Infants

         A simple synbiotic cocktail containing the combination of Lactobacillus plantarum, a probiotic, plus the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide can help prevent sometimes deadly cases of sepsis and decrease lower respiratory tract infections in newborns, according to the results of a clinical trial published in Nature. Pinaki Panigrahi, a professor at the University of Nebraska, and his colleagues treated 4,556 full-term newborns in villages in Odisha state in India, where there are high rates of infant death and infectious disease. They found that the synbiotic combination which costs only $1 per treatment reduced neonatal sepsis and death by 40 percent, from 9 percent in the placebo arm to 5.4 percent among babies given the experimental treatment.

Source: The scientist

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July- 2017

   

Mini-Metagenomics Leads to Microbial Discovery

          Scientists searching for undiscovered microbial species have historically had a choice of two DNA-based techniques. The first is shotgun metagenomics, where researchers extract and sequence the DNA from an environmental sample that contains many community members. This technique can yield information about the species present in a community and their relative abundance, but works best for samples without too much diversity and doesn’t always reveal rare microbes. The second option is single-cell sequencing, which has the advantage of providing full microbial genomes, but it can be labor-intensive and expensive. Now, researchers have combined aspects of both strategies to develop a microfluidics-based mini-metagenomic method, which allows single-cell sequencing of many small groups of cells at once.

Source: The scientist

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Novel bacterial physiology identified in the creation of biofilms

          A team of researchers studied the biofilm construction capabilities of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI), a bacterium responsible for sinusitis, pneumonia, exacerbations of cystic fibrosis and COPD, bronchitis and ear infections. Biofilms are large 3D communities of bacteria that adhere to body surfaces and protect bacteria from environmental stressors such as antibiotics and antibodies. The lab found that when H. influenzae builds its biofilms, it does so via an active and regulated means while remaining intact, unlike other bacteria which self-sacrifice in order to contribute to the biofilm. Other types of bacteria either explode, sending their DNA into the biofilm, or shuttle their DNA out into the environment through a syringe-like appendage produced by the bacterium, all to benefit the potency of the biofilm.

Source: sciencedaily

 

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Fungi can be used as biomonitors for assessing radioactivity in our environment

           The Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory of the UEx has carried out a study to quantify radioactive presence in fungi. According to the research, this quantification is made using transfer coefficients that compare the radioactive content in the receptor compartment (fungi) of the radioactive contamination, to that existing in the transmitter compartment (soil). From the study, we may conclude that fungi can be used when assessing the presence or absence of radioactive contamination in the soil.

Source: sciencedaily

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Ebola Persistence Documented in Monkeys

          Although the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that started in 2013 was declared over more than a year ago, the disease lingers on. Many Ebola survivors have suffered from joint aches, vision problems, hearing loss, headaches, and other symptoms, a phenomenon dubbed “post-Ebola syndrome.” Researchers studying macaques have a better understanding of why that might be: they’ve tracked the progression of Ebola virus through various tissues of monkeys who have survived acute infections and found evidence of long-term viral persistence and possible replication.

Source: The scientist

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Streptococcus gallolyticus Spurs Colorectal Tumor Growth in Mice

            Scientists have long known of the link between the bacteria Streptococcus gallolyticus and colorectal cancer (CRC) in humans. Numerous case studies have reported instances of patients with S. gallolyticus infections who also have CRC. How this microbe contributes to the cancer, however, was unclear. Now, a new study published in PLOS Pathogens, suggests that S. gallolyticus may speed up the growth of colon tumors.

Source: The scientist

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50-year-old flu virus model revamped, revealing pandemic prediction possibilities

          The scientific textbook depiction of the flu virus is about to get a facelift, due to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine team's discovery that a model of the influenza genome architecture untouched since the 1970s isn't so perfect after all.The discovery reveals loopholes in the way the virus packages its genetic material. When one strain of flu co-mingles with another strain inside a cell, these loopholes allow the viruses to swap genetic material and give rise to new strains of flu. Knowing these loopholes and how they interact with each other could give scientists the opportunity to better predict pandemics and find new ways to disrupt the flu virus.

Source: phys

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NASA is studying fungi to keep space travelers safe on new worlds

          Human presence in closed habitats that may one day be used to explore other planets is associated with changes in the composition of the fungal community, the mycobiome that grows on surfaces inside the habitat. Study was conducted using. Inflatable Lunar/Mars Analog Habitat (ILMAH), a unique, simulated closed environment that mimics the conditions found on the International Space Station and possible human habitats on other planets showed that the overall fungal diversity changed when humans were present, according to a study published in the open access journal Microbiome.

Source: phys

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Litter bugs may protect chocolate supply

          Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama found that exposing baby cacao plants to microbes from healthy adult cacao plants reduced the plant's chance of becoming infected with the serious cacao pathogen Phytopthora palmivora by half.

Source: phys

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Defensive bacterial symbionts of fruit flies attack ribosomes of parasitic wasps

          Bacteria of the Spiroplasma genus produce toxic, ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) that appear to protect their symbiotic host flies against parasitic wasps, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Source: phys

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Malaria parasites able to sense their hosts calorie intake

          Even though malaria still kills one child every minute, the vast majority of those infected still survive, with roughly 200 million new infections every year. A new study has shown that the infectious agent responsible for malaria, the Plasmodium parasite, is able to to sense and actively adapt to the host's nutritional status. Using mouse models of malaria infection, scientists led by Maria M. Mota from Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon (iMM Lisboa), found that mice who ate 30% fewer calories had a significantly lower parasite load. Plasmodium parasites reproduce inside red blood cells every 48 hours. The study in Nature reveals for the first time that the parasite's rate of replication depends on the calories ingested by the host. This may ultimately dictate the outcome of a malaria infection: survival or death.

Source: phys

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New species of yeast could help beer brewers reach new heights

          Researchers at the University of Manchester in collaboration with the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC), have discovered a new species of yeast that could help brewers create better lager. It is a new of member of the Saccharomyces family and is closely related to the familiar brewers' and bakers' yeast. However, this new species was found at altitude, growing more than 1000 metres above sea level on an oak tree in Saint Auban, in the foothills of the French Alps. To survive at this altitude, the yeast has developed an ability to tolerate colder conditions than most other known strains of Saccharomyces yeasts.

Source: phys

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New Antiviral Shows Promise Against Highly Contagious Coronaviruses

          A multi-institutional team of researchers has recently developed a new antiviral candidate that is capable of inhibiting a broad range of highly contagious coronaviruses, including Zoonotic coronaviruses that can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Source: natureworldnews

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June- 2017

   

War and peace in the human gut: Probing the microbiome

            The role of microbes in the gut has been the focus of recent research that explores how dietary choices promote cooperation or might fuel conflict between gut microbes and the humans they interact with, maintaining health or encouraging the onset of disease.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Researchers discover how flu viruses hijack human cells

          Much is known about flu viruses, but little is understood about how they reproduce inside human host cells, spreading infection. A research team headed by investigators from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has identifed a mechanism by which influenza A, a family of pathogens that includes the most deadly strains of flu worldwide, hijacks cellular machinery to replicate.

Source: Sciencedaily

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'Bugs' on the subway: Monitoring the microbial environment to improve public health

          The trillions of microbes that transfer from people to surfaces could provide an early warning system for the emergence of public health threats such as a flu outbreak or a rise in antibiotic resistance, according to a new study.

Source: Sciencedaily

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See and sort: Developing novel techniques to visualize uncultured microbial cell activity

         Researchers used a recently refined technique to identify both individual active cells, and single clusters of active bacteria and archaea within microbial communities. Scientists are interested in learning how the planet's microbial dark matter can be harnessed for energy and environmental challenges.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Growing unknown microbes one by one

         Trillions of bacteria live in the human body, and although there's plenty of evidence that these microbes play a collective role in human health, we know very little about the individual bacterial species. Employing the use of a specially designed glass chip with tiny compartments, researchers provide a way to target and grow specific microbes from the gut -- a key step in understanding which bacteria are helpful to human health and which are harmful.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Census of microbes in healthy humans reported

          Trillions of microbes inhabit the human body, occupying virtually every nook and cranny. And most of the time, this relationship is a friendly one, with microbes helping to digest food, strengthen the immune system and ward off dangerous pathogens. Now, some 200 US scientists report findings from the most comprehensive census of the microbial make-up of healthy humans.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Uncovered: 1,000 new microbial genomes

         Scientists have taken a decisive step forward in uncovering the planet's microbial diversity. They report the release of 1,003 phylogenetically diverse bacterial and archaeal reference genomes -- the single largest release to date. The researchers are interested in learning more about this biodiversity because microbes play important roles in regulating Earth's biogeochemical cycles and uncovering gene functions and metabolic pathways has wide applications.

Source: Sciencedaily

 

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Unique microbes found in extreme environment

         Researchers who were looking for organisms that eke out a living in some of the most inhospitable soils on Earth have found a hardy few. A new DNA analysis of rocky soils in the martian-like landscape on some volcanoes in South America has revealed a handful of bacteria, fungi, and other rudimentary organisms, called archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Microbes discovered in extreme environment on South American volcanoes

          Scientists looking for organisms that eke out a living in some of the most inhospitable soils on Earth has found a hardy few living on volcanoes that reaching nearly 20,000 feet in height.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Fungi awake bacteria from their slumber

          When a soil dries out, this has a negative impact on the activity of soil bacteria. Using an innovative combination of state-of-the-art analysis and imaging techniques, researchers have now discovered that fungi increase the activity of bacteria in dry and nutrient-poor habitats by supplying them with water and nutrients. The ability of fungi to regulate drought stress in soil and thus sustain ecosystem functions is an important insight in the context of climate change.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Microbes from ships may help distinguish one port from another

         Much the way every person has a unique microbial cloud around them, ships might also carry distinct microbial signatures. The key is testing the right waters -- the bilge water from the bottoms of ships.

Source: Sciencedaily

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May- 2017

   

New defence mechanism against bacteria discovered

         Researchers in dermatology at Lund University in Sweden believe that they have cracked the mystery of why we are able to quickly prevent an infection from spreading uncontrollably in the body during wounding. They believe this knowledge may be of clinical significance for developing new ways to counteract bacteria. The researchers have discovered that fragments of thrombin - a common blood protein which can be found in wounds - can aggregate both bacteria and their toxins; something they did not see in normal blood plasma. The aggregation takes place quickly in the wound and causes bacteria and endotoxins not only to gather but also to be "eaten" by the body's inflammatory cells and avoids the spread of infection.

Source: Phys

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Researchers discover how flu viruses hijack human cells

        Much is known about flu viruses, but little is understood about how they reproduce inside human host cells, spreading infection. A research team headed by investigators from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has identifed a mechanism by which influenza A, a family of pathogens that includes the most deadly strains of flu worldwide, hijacks cellular machinery to replicate.

Source: Phys

— Read more

   

Researchers discover how cancer-causing virus could stay silently hidden in your body

         Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have discovered a new mechanism that could explain how the Merkel Cell Polyomavirus, responsible for the most aggressive form of skin cancer, can stay dormant for decades after infection but then reemerge to cause cancer. The results are published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Phys

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Scientists engineer baker's yeast to produce penicillin molecules

         The synthetic biologists from Imperial College London have re-engineered yeast cells to manufacture the nonribosomal peptide antibiotic penicillin. In laboratory experiments, they were able to demonstrate that this yeast had antibacterial properties against streptococcus bacteria.

Source: Phys

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Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive

         Bacteria need mutations to change their DNA code inorder to survive under difficult circumstances. When necessary, they can even mutate at different speeds. This is shown in a recent study by the Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics at KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium. The findings open up various new avenues for research, ranging from more efficient biofuel production methods to a better treatment for bacterial infections and cancer.

Source: Phys

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April- 2017

   

Symbiotic bacteria: From hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard

        Bacterial symbionts transition between plant pathogenicity and insect defensive mutualism, a new report demonstrates. The bacterium Burkholderia gladioli lives in specific organs of a plant-feeding beetle and defends the insect's eggs from detrimental fungi by producing antibiotics. However, when transferred to a plant, the bacterium can spread throughout the tissues and negatively affect the plant.

Source: sciencedaily

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Antibiotics counteract the beneficial effect of whole grain

        Antibiotics may impede the health properties of whole grain, especially for women, recent study demonstrates. The results emphasize the importance of maintaining a restrictive use of antibiotics.

Source: sciencedaily

 

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Illuminating the secret of glow-in-the-dark mushrooms

        Scientists now understand what makes bioluminescent mushrooms glow, which may pave the way to new possibilities for harnessing fungal bioluminescence in analytical and imaging technologies. Bioluminescence is a highly conserved phenomenon that exists in a wide range of organisms; there are roughly 80 different known species of bioluminescent fungi alone scattered across the globe.

Source: sciencedaily

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Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

        A study has found evidence that extremely small changes in how atoms move in bacterial proteins can play a big role in how these microorganisms function and evolve traits, such as antibiotic resistance.

Source: sciencedaily

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Fungi have enormous potential for new antibiotics

        Fungi are a potential goldmine for the production of pharmaceuticals. This is shown by researchers who have developed a method for finding new antibiotics from nature's own resources. The findings could prove very useful in the battle against antibiotic resistance.

Source: sciencedaily

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Action required: Invasive fungus is killing European salamanders

       A new fungal disease brought in from Asia is threatening European salamanders. Once the amphibians become infected, they die within a brief period of time, report biologists. Because saving the infected populations is still not possible, Switzerland has preventively imposed an import ban for salamanders and newts.

Source: sciencedaily

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Frog slime kills flu virus

       Frogs' skins were known to secrete peptides that defend them against bacteria. A new research finding suggests that the peptides represent a resource for antiviral drug discovery as well.

Source: sciencedaily

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Zika RNA now found in a second mosquito species

       Zika RNA has now been found in Aedes albopictus. That’s not the species -- known as Aedes aegypti -- most often associated with Zika. But scientists have never discounted Aedes albopictus as another possible carrier of the potentially deadly virus.

Source: sciencedaily

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Malaria parasites soften our cells' defenses in order to invade

       Malaria is caused by a family of parasites that are carried by mosquitoes. Once parasites enter the body through a mosquito bite, they multiply in the liver before invading red blood cells where they cause all symptoms of malaria disease.

Source: sciencedaily

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March- 2017

   

Research team captures images of pathogens' tiny 'syringes'

       Salmonella and many other bacterial pathogens use a nano syringe-like device to deliver toxic proteins into target human cells. Scientists at Yale and University of Texas Medical School-Houston have used cryo-electron tomography to reveal the molecular structure of this device, which is about 1/1000th the width of a human hair.

Source: phys

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Can math help explain our bodies—and our diseases?

       What makes a cluster of cells become a liver, or a muscle? How do our genes give rise to proteins, proteins to cells, and cells to tissues and organs? The incredible complexity of how these biological systems interact boggles the mind and drives the work of biomedical scientists around the world. But a pair of mathematicians had introduced a new way of thinking about these concepts that may help set the stage for better understanding of our bodies and other living things. Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the pair from the University of Michigan Medical School and University of California, Berkeley introduced a framework for using math to understand how genetic information and interactions between cells give rise to the actual function of a particular type of tissue.

Source: phys

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Skin cream kills pathogen

       Atopic dermatitis causes dry, itchy and inflamed skin, and is often marked by high levels of the pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Other bacteria that normally live harmlessly on the skin are known to produce antimicrobial compounds, so Richard Gallo at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues set out to investigate whether these bacteria help to combat S. aureus. The researchers isolated and sequenced the genomes of a range of Staphylococcus species from the skin of both healthy people and those with atopic dermatitis. They found that people with the disorder had lower levels of microbes with antimicrobial activity than did their healthy counterparts.

Source: nature

 

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See how Zika infection changes a human cell

       The Zika virus taking hold of the inner organelles of human liver and neural stem cells has been captured via light and electron microscopy. In Cell Reports on February 28, researchers in Germany showed how the African and Asian strains of Zika rearrange the endoplasmic reticulum and cytoskeletal architecture of host cells so that they can build factories where they make daughter viruses. The study revealed that targeting cytoskeleton dynamics could be a previously unexplored strategy to suppress Zika replication.

Source: phys

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February - 2017

   

It's bacteria vs virus in dengue test battle

       Here's the buzz for people in Tamil Nadu, a state in which mosquitoes infect an average of 5,000 people with dengue each year and 100 deaths have been recorded in the past six years..

Source: The Times of India

 

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Chennai oil spill 10 times bigger than reported, companies whose ships collided misled government

       As a massive clean up operation continues along the Ennore coast near Chennai after two cargo ships collided last week resulting in a huge oil spill in the sea, Coast Guard has disclosed that the scale of oil spill is 10 times than what was claimed previously.

Source: indiatoday

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Ennore Port oil spill spreads all along Chennai's shoreline up to Marina

       The oil spill supposedly from two ships that collided near the Ennore Port, north of Chennai, on Saturday, spread along the city's shoreline further down up to the famed Marina Beach. On Monday morning, the local fishermen and the morning walkers were shocked to find not just thick black oil along the beach, but a number of turtles that were washed ashore dead.

Source: newindianexpress

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Drought identified as key to severity of West Nile virus epidemics

       A study led by UC Santa Cruz researchers has found that drought dramatically increases the severity of West Nile virus epidemics in the United States, although populations affected by large outbreaks acquire immunity that limits the size of subsequent epidemics.

Source: enns

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Malaria superbugs spreading fast in Asia

       Multidrug-resistant malaria superbugs have taken hold in parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, threatening to undermine progress against the disease, scientists said. They also warned of further spread of these parasites through India to Africa.

Source: The timesofindia

 

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January - 2017

   

Superbug death spurs drug regulator warning

       The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has also asked companies to carry specified warnings to avoid antimicrobial resistance. “To contain anti-microbial resistance, the office has been advising the supply chain system in India to follow strict requirements of Schedule H and H1 for sale of medicines,“ DCGI G N Singh said in a notice issued to all state regulators and other stakeholders.

Source: epaperbetas

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Bacterial explorers move fast

       Streptomyces bacteria are common in soil and generate many antibiotics. Marie Elliot at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and her colleagues cultured Streptomyces venezuelae along with baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) for 14 days. They found that the bacteria form non-branched filaments that spread over various surfaces (pictured) and obstacles. The 'explorer' cells released a volatile alkaline compound that stimulated physically separated Streptomyces to initiate exploration, and inhibited the growth of other bacteria. This exploratory growth could be a way for the organisms to scavenge more nutrients, the authors say.

Source: nature

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Strep spreads by harnessing immune defenses of those infected

       Streptococcus pneumonia spreads by harnessing immune defenses of those infected. The bacteria that cause most cases of pneumonia worldwide secrete a toxin that helps them jump from one body to the next - with help from the hosts' immune defenses. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center and published online January 11 in Cell Host & Microbe.

Source: phys

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Bacterial protein structure could aid development of new antibiotics

       Researchers at Duke University solved the structure of an enzyme that is crucial for helping bacteria build their cell walls. The molecule, called MurJ (shown in green), must flip cell wall precursors (purple) across the bacteria's cell membrane before these molecules can be linked together to form the cell wall. This new structure could be important to help develop new broad-spectrum antibiotics. Credit: Alvin Kuk, Duke University.

Source: phys

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Researchers discover 'marvel microbes' explaining how cells became complex

       In a new study, published in Nature this week, an international research group led from Uppsala University in Sweden presents the discovery of a group of microbes that provide new insights as to how complex cellular life emerged. The study provides new details of how, billions of years ago, complex cell types that comprise plants, fungi, but also animals and humans, gradually evolved from simpler microbial ancestors.

Source: phys

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Worms have teenage ambivalence, too

       Salk Institute scientists studying roundworms suggest that, in both worms and humans, adolescent brains mature to stable adult brains by changing which brain cells they use to generate behavior. Teen worm brains drive wishy-washy behavior that allows them to stay flexible in an uncertain world, while adult worm brains drive efficient behavior. The discovery provides insight into the underlying drivers of neurological development that could help better understand the human brain and disease.

Source: phys

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200-year-old banyan tree near Ambattur gets new lease of life

       A team of horticulturists and a group of residents have successfully transplanted a 200-plus-year-old banyan tree uprooted by cyclone Vardah on December 12 at Ayanambakkam near Ambattur. The process began on Saturday and ended on Monday night.

Source: The Times of India

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Chennai: Sembakkam lake, a de facto dumping ground, to be restored

       Residents of Chitlapakkam have reason to cheer in the New Year. The Sembakkam lake, a source of water for the neighbourhood that is witnessing a real estate boom, will be restored soon.

Source: The Times of India

 

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Salmonella bacteria threatens Mudumalai

       Chikku, a cattle herder in Gudalur in the Nilgiris, is a worried man. “Water in the Dhodda Moyar was a little dark last week. When my cattle drank it, they fell sick and in the next couple of days more than half a dozen of them died,“ he says. Siva, a worker in a farm in the same area, said he went to bathe in the river, but changed his mind since the water was dark in colour. Subsequently two cattle from the farm where he works died.

Source: The Times of India

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