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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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Drug Resistance Loiters on Antibiotic-Free Farms

  Scientists have found, to their surprise, that after two and a half years of being antibiotic free, pigs that were involved in a Canadian study carried bacteria that were still resistant to antibiotics. Scientists originally hypothesized that the antibiotic resistant mutation would be associated with some sort of fitness disadvantage, like many similar mutations. If this had been true, the bacteria would have been likely to lose their resistance when no longer in the presence of antibiotics.

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Intestinal microbes are linked to obesity and cancer

  Today, there is an epidemic in the United States that was not apparent 50 years ago. This epidemic is obesity amongst adults and children in this country. Blame for obesity has been set upon processed foods and sedentary lifestyles, but it wasn’t until Eiji Hara of Tokyo turned his attention towards microbes in the intestine that other significant factors were considered to be risks of obesity as well. Hara executed two types of experiments. In one experiment, he fed mice different diet...

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Bacterial DNA in Human Tumors

  Recent studies conducted at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine indicate that bacterial DNA can be transferred to human tumor cells easier than into healthy human cells.  Such genetic transfer, in which DNA from one organism is implemented into another organism of a different species, without traditional reproduction processes, is called lateral gene transfer or horizontal gene transfer.  In order to research the role of lateral gene transfer in tumors, researchers at the...

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The Microbial Effects of Climate Change

  It isn't often when scientists and policy makers think about the effects of climate change that they consider the microbial population. Microbes are 60% of the biomass on earth and have profound effects on the global environment. As a demonstration of this, Professor Ferran Garcia-Pichel of Arizona State University has studied the microbes present in desert soil using new molecular survey techniques. These methods allow researchers to rapidly characterize the population of microbes...

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The effect of (p)ppGpp on replication elongation rate in B. subtilis and E. coli

  In the research field, regulation of DNA replication during the initiation phase is well known while very little is known about regulation of replication during the elongation period. The process of DNA replication is complex, and it is highly regulated by specific factors in the environment. One factor that impacts regulation is the abundance of nutrients in the cell. In the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, replication elongation is inhibited when the cell undergoes amino acid starvation. In t...

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Another benefit to wetlands - Carbon sinks

  Balnca Bernal and William Mitsch have just published a paper in the Journal of Environmental Quality that looks at the potential of wet lands to serve as carbon sinks. Their paper shows that wetlands accumulate 242 g of carbon m-2 yr-1. This is 70% more than a natural wetland. Wetlands are great at trapping carbon because when plants that  grow in the shallow water die, they fall into the water and must be degraded anaerobically. This is a much slower process, and a significant fraction of...

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Manipulating protein function in C elegans

  Researches at the Univ. of Mass-Amhearst, lead by professor Dan Chase have developed a technique that allows the down regulation of any protein, at any time, without mutation of the DNA of the organism under study. This will allow scientists to remove a protein activity in just one cell, and not affect the metabolism of the entire organism. Dr. Chase's team used this technique to determine what would happen if they manipulated dopamine levels in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans. This worm is...

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Your mom was right - Don't skip breakfast!

  Obesity in this country is reaching epidemic proportions. Over 30% of the United States adult population is obese. This is not genetics. Thirty years ago we did not near the number of obese adults as we do today. It is a matter of poor diet and lack of exercise. To add to this phenomenon, research by Dr. Elizabeth Thomas demonstrates that skipping breakfast, just once, can cause acute insulin resistance. In this condition, the body requires higher levels of insulin to cause cells to absorb...

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Serious Problem, Simple Solution

  A team of researchers at the University of Iowa, lead by Marin Schweizer, have developed guidelines that could reduce the incidence of post-surgery infections by more than 70%. The sources of post-operative infection in 85% of cases originated with the patient. They were infecting themselves, sometimes with highly resistant microbes, such as MRSA. These microbes were found to be harbored in the nasal passages  and the patients would transmit the microbe by touching their nose and...

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The CDC and H7N9 Influenza

  Dr Michael Shaw and his team at the CDC are making rapid progress in understanding the H7N9 influenza virus that is causing lethal cases of flu in China. There is great concern about this virus, and its potential to cause a serious pandemic. Currently the virus is not transmitting readily human-to-human, with most cases being bird-to-human. Unfortunately, the virus does not seem to greatly sicken birds, making it harder to detect and easier to spread. You can find some cool graphics and images o...

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