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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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Test taking actually improves comprehension of material

  Jeffrey D. Karpicke and Janell R. Blunt report that using tests to measure your comprehension of a subject also has the side benefit of helping you remember the material better. The NY times has an excellent article summarizing the findings. Through the Microscope has dozens of concept quizzes throughout the text that help you to check your understanding of the material. Each chapter also has an end of chapter quiz to further cement the concepts. As you use this text, make sure you take advanta...

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Natural gas as a way to reduce climate change?

  Cornell Professor Lawrence M. Cathles who studies Earth sciences calculates that switching from coal and oil to natural gas as we move toward renewable energy could decrease carbon emissions significantly. We do need a transition period, but lets make it as short as possible.

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A new antimalaria drug: less expensive, simple treatment, easy to produce

  Malaria is the most important tropical disease in the world, with over 665,000 deaths worldwide, many of them in children. The malaria parasites, protozoa of the Plasmodium genus, are susceptible to a number of drugs, but have been becoming more resistant the drugs available for treatment. Professor Jonathan Vennerstrom of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy and his team announce the development of Synriam (a synthetic trioxolane) that has many of the properties of arte...

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Getting the floc out of here

  Floc is a real work, even if your spell-checker flags it. In fact, it's a scientific word that describes those little particles of fluff that float in aquatic systems. These little specs floating in the water column have a sinister secret, they harbor antibiotic resistance. Drudge et. al from McMaster University tested four different sites, Hamilton Harbour, impacted by sewer overflow; Sunnyside Beach in Toronto, impacted by wastewater; a rural stream by light agricultural activities; and a remo...

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Bacteria are your friends

  Most people think germs on their bodies are a Bad Thing. If they didn't, hand sanitizers, disinfectant soap and bleach would not sell so well. As we learn more about the microbes that inhabit our bodies, we are realizing that the human being is really a superorganism composed of about a trillion human cells and 10 trillion microorganisms. Rarely a microbe will cause illness, but these are transient residents that the body actively removes. Most other microbes that live on us are benign and a sig...

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Culturing microorganisms

  For over 100 years microbiologists have known, to their great consternation, that in any given environment, at least 90% of all microbes are unculturable. In the last few decades, we have developed molecular tools to see these microbes in the environment and determine their presences and number, but we still cannot bring them into culture. There are all sorts of ideas for why this might be true. Many of these microbes may be slow growing, and the fast growing microbes easily outpace them in labo...

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A topoisomerase I mutation is lethal, the definative paper.

  Topoisomerase I unwinds the DNA during cell replication and is an enzyme that is found in Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. Most every living thing has a homolog. To everyone's surprise, it is possible to create mutations that completely remove the activity of the enzyme, yet have cells capable of growth. These cells are sick, but they can grow. The latest research by Stockum et al. shows that these deletion mutants of topoisomerase I actually have compensating mutations, and in fact loss of topoi...

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Norvirus, resistance is futile. Well, maybe not

  Norovirus is a nasty little virus that causes tons of misery every winter. It is an RNA virus that infects the gastrointestinal tract causing violent vomiting and diarrhea. About 12 to 48 hours after being infected, rapid symptom onset will lay you flat for about a day. Even better, immunity to this virus fades in a few months and you are susceptible to a new attack. A particularly nasty strain of norovirus has been circulating in my area and my family came down with it just this weekend. The vi...

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