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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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Leaf-cutter ants, a model potential for biofuel production

  In recent years, researches have been looking for alternative energy sources that can replace fossil fuels. One of them is biofuel, a fuel produced from living organisms. A recent study, conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison on the communities of leaf-cutter ants, has led to a discovery of potential model for better biofuel production.

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Malaria Parasite Grows Stronger in Weak Immune Systems

  Malaria is a well-known disease; many know that it is transmitted by a mosquito bite or that it causes a high fever, but what numerous probably do not know is what the malaria parasite, Plasmodium chabaudi, does in a weakened immune system. The article linked tells of an experiment done to test just that.

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Study finds biochemical role of crucial TonB protein in bacterial iron transport and pathogenesis

  The biochemical role of the protein, TonB, was relatively unknown for decades, but recent research has helped clear that up. TonB was noted to be especially important, as it is a pivotal factor in the membrane protein of Gram-negative bacteria—specifically aiding in the uptake of iron into the microorganism. The key in this discovery is finding it within the parameters of Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria, as opposed to Gram-positive bacteria, are typically considered the more...

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Autoinducers Act as Biological Timers in Vibrio harveyi

  Microorganisms, though individually capable of significant metabolic feats, often cooperate with other organisms to perform population-wide tasks. One example is the emission of light by biological organisms, termed bioluminescence, a phenomenon in which a population of bacteria must all express their genes encoding for luciferase, a light-producing protein, at the same time. This process is regulated by quorum sensing, the central focus of a 2012 study relating the expression of bioluminescence...

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New bacteria found to hold homologous horA gene known for beer spoiling capabilities

  A new APT binding cassette, multi-resistant gene (ABC MDR) was discovered in 3 strains of bacteria unknown for housing this gene. Bacillus, Paenibacillus and Staphylococcus strains are new vehicles for this horA gene relative. These strains are usually found in the environment and are not known for spoiling beer. ABC MDR is homologous to the horA gene which has been linked with its ability to grow in beer and is already present in Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, which are bacteria that have been...

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The Microbiology of Beer

  One ancient and potentially overlooked application is microbiology’s relevance to brewing beer. Brewing has been going on for thousands of years and the process has changed drastically over time, especially recently. A recent review compiled hundreds of relevant studies on microbiology’s importance on beer quality from barley field to your glass. Brewing is a process of fermentation, thus yeast does most of the heavy lifting when producing beer. However, not any yeast will do. Bee...

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Mutations in influenza H5 HA can render droplet transmission ability

  Influenza viruses are a great threat to humans and have very well proven their pandemic nature such as the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. They contain the protein haemagglutinin (HA) which determines the host range by identifying specific receptors such as sialic acid linked to galactose by α2,6-linkages in humans. Recent studies at UW-Madison and University of Tokyo by Yoshihiro Kawaoka have identified a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus that can be transferred through droplet transmission in a fe...

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Gut Microbes

  According to a study conducted at Illinois University, headed by Kelly Swanson, gut microbiomes are able to flourish in certain types of diets in any species. These microbes start to develop at birth and will cause different effects on the body depending on the microbe's arrangement. Theses microbes have been known to affect the immune system and are linked with metabolic issues, such as obesity in both animals and people. To see if gut microbes are similar to other microbes of different spe...

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Weakened Immune Systems lead to Increased Virulence of Malaria parasite

  A recent Penn State experiment studied the effects of weak immune systems on the virulence and aggressiveness of a malaria parasite in mice. The study involved disabling a key immune molecule, CD4 receptors, with an antibody and then infecting these mice and a control group with an uncompromised immune system with the malaria parasite Plasmodium chabaudi. It lasted 21 weeks and each week, the parasite was taken from one mice and transferred to another previously uninfected mouse. They froze the...

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A Shot in the Arm for New Antiobiotics

      The ability of bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics has posed as an ongoing obstacle for the medical community.  Antibiotic resistance becomes evolutionarily favorable when the resistant microbes are able to thrive within a community.  This in turn creates a pressure to maintain these mutated microbes and weed out the susceptible ones.  Since mutated organisms are less fit, when resistance is no longer needed the original strain can thrive once again.  ...

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