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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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The very real danger of alfatoxins
Food products, especially harvested grains, need to be stored carefully. Proper management means storing...
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The 6th Edition of Through the Microscope is now available
The website, eBooks, and hard copy of Through the Microscope are now available. To purchase website access,...
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The stringent response can influence antibiotic resistance
Cancer is a horrible disease, killing over half a million people in the United States every year and...
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Gut disbiosys hinders the healing of spinal cord injuries
There has been a growing body of evidence that the microorganisms that live with us on our bodies deeply...
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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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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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