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New powerful antibiotics discovered using machine learning
Bacteria are amazing creatures. They adapt rapidly to any stress that is put on them or at least some...
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Top Publishers Sued over Collusion in Textbook Market
Textbook prices are out of control and this is why I spent years of my life writing and running this...
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Americans are fatter than ever and processed food is to blame
Before diving into this article we need to clarify how being obese is measured. There are many ways to...
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Through the Microscope updates
An important feature of Through the Microscope is the animations that depict important processes. Often...
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Obesity and the Microbiome
A large body of evidence is emerging showing that the microbiome has a role in obesity and I cover some...
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Treated mice infected with Clostridium difficile

  In the article “ Using Gut Bacteria to Fight Diarrhea”, microbiologist Trevor Lawley of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and his colleagues examined Clostridium difficile infection in mice.  In humans, C. difficile is a significant pathogen in hostpitals and nursing homes, causing nearly 336,000 infections and 14,000 deaths a year in the United States.  Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic, gram-positive bacterium that is the majo...

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Effect of diet on the human gut micro biome.

  For decades, we have known that proper nutrition is essential for human health, but recent studies have demonstrated that variations in composition and operations of the human gut microbiome can influence the host energy metabolic function, host energy expenditure, and ultimately the nutritional value of food. Knowing this, it would be logical to ask how we may be able to further promote our health by improving ecological health of the microbial communities in our gut. Turnbaugh PJ, et al. set o...

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The Impact of the Gut Microbiota on Human Health: An Integrative View

  Over the last decade there has been an exponential growth in the amount of individuals that are being diagnosed with diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn's Disease, and food allergies, which are a result of the consequences from the amount and type of microbiota contained within the gastrointestinal tract.  There are also some diseases; Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), many autoimmune disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis...

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Corals buddy up with bacteria

  In a new study conducted by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), there is new evidence of a complex symbiotic relationship between certain species of reef building coral and bacteria that wasn't previously understood. It has been known that many coral form symbiotic relationships with many other organisms, such as algae. Researchers have already understood that a species of reef building coral, Stylopho...

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Sequencing Microbial Dark Matter

  Microbes are all around us. Scientists have been trying to find and sequence each microbe's DNA for a long time now, but because many of the microbes will not grow in the lab, many of their DNA sequences are unknown. These un-sequenced organisms are known as “microbial dark matter.” Three years ago, microbiologist Tonja Woyke developed a new technique to sequence the genome of one cell.  Before this new technique was developed, determining a cell's DNA sequence requ...

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Friendly Viruses in Mucus

  Most folks would typically consider bacteria to be either good or bad.  The bad such as those that cause infectious disease or the good like the normal flora that aid in digestion, but none would think of viruses having a dual nature as well. A group of scientists led by Jeremy Barr discovered that mucus, a viscid gel-like secretion rich in mucins that act as a protective lubricant from infectious agents, is more than just a barrier. Surprisingly, the active layer of mucus consists of bacte...

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Tuberculosis and its Deadly Family Tree

  A good portion of the world hears the word tuberculosis and thinks of the bacterial infection that plagued those of the past. In campaigns for better living standards, antibiotics and vaccines it appeared that tuberculosis is under control since the 20th century.  While it seemed promising, new evidence is proving that tuberculosis is capable of outsmarting humans and its attack on the human body. The tuberculosis bacterium attacks the lungs and in some cases other organs...

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Digging Deeper into Bird Guts

  Microbial life is important to human and animal health, as they help with important functions of the body.  Looking specifically at the gut, gut bacteria (gastrointestinal bacteria), help the body with digestion, immune functions, and general health.  There is little knowledge about how the many different bacterial communities change in animal bodies. To have a better understanding about this change, Wouter van Dongen and his colleagues at the Vetmeduni Vienna have scrutinized the cloa...

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Biodiversity Correlates with Lower Rates of Allergies

  The article, “A Natural Environment Can Be Good for Allergies”,  discusses a study conducted at the University of Helsinki in Finland that investigated the correlation between microbe diversity and allergies.  The study suggests that living in a rural environment may lead to a lower likelihood of developing allergies. Researchers tested the forearms of 118 teenagers for microbes present on the skin and examined the diversity of microbes. The teenagers’ living...

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Human Microbiome Project

  Typically we think of biomes as large communities of organisms covering vast areas; but a new idea of microbiome is becoming popularized as our understanding of microorganisms grows. The human body is just such a microbiome. For every one human cell in the body there are 10 microbial cells! If that sounds like disportionate amount and you find yourself wondering how it is possible to have more microbial cells than human cells, consider the fact that a typical microbe cell is much smaller than a...

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