Microbiology

Parkinson's disease sufferers have a different microbiota in their intestines than healthy counterparts, they have less Prevotellaceae bacteria, according to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH).  


Yeast cells can sometimes reverse the protein misfolding and clumping associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's, according to new research which contradicts the idea that once prion proteins have changed into the shape that aggregates, the change is irreversible.

Prions are proteins that change into a shape that triggers their neighbors to change, also. In that new form, the proteins cluster. The aggregates, called amyloids, are associated with diseases including Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's. For yeast, having clumps of amyloid is not fatal. In a new study, researchers exposed amyloid-containing cells of baker's yeast to 104 F (40 C), a temperature that would be a high fever in a human.


Archaea are a family of single-celled organisms that can thrive in environments like boiling hydrothermal pools and smoking deep sea vents deep underground, which are too extreme for most other species to survive.



An Ochre starfish, in healthier times. Amanda Bates, Author provided

By Amanda Bates, University of Southampton

We live in a time when our climate is warming more rapidly than ever before. Rising temperature and associated changes in weather are driving shifts in the distributions of species on Earth.

Some are thriving in these new climate conditions and have even moved into new regions that were historically inhospitable.

One concern for us humans is how harmful species – diseases or pests – are responding to a changing climate.

Campylobacter's persistence in the kitchen is boosted by organic matter from chicken carcasses - "chicken juice" - and that means better cleaning of surfaces used for food preparation is an easy way to keep illness from happening.

Campylobacter aren't particularly hardy bacteria, so one area of research has been to understand exactly how they manage to survive outside of their usual habitat, the intestinal tract of poultry. They are sensitive to oxygen, but during biofilm formation the bacteria protect themselves with a layer of slime. This also makes them more resistant to antimicrobials and disinfection treatments. 


The adult human body is made up of about 37 trillion cells. Microbes, mainly bacteria, outnumber body cells by 10 to 1. This huge community of microbes, called the microbiome, affects the health, development and evolution of all multicellular organisms, including humans, according to the latest craze in health supplement marketing and plenty of science papers latching onto the fad.

Symbiotic microbes can help prevent infection by disease-causing pathogens but sometimes the interaction goes the other way, with a pathogen or disease disrupting the normal community of symbiotic bacteria. In a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists from UC Santa Barbara say that a fungal pathogen of amphibians does just that.



Credit: Filip Bunkens/Flickr

By Meredith Knight, Genetic Literacy Project

Who wants a healthy gut? Apparently a lot of people. The probiotics industry is expected to reach $45 billion annually in the next 4 years, just selling add-ons to the bacteria we already walk around with. That’s aside from the billions going into the pharmaceutical and agricultural research and development of the microbiome and its potential for new drugs.

It's hard to have our steak and eat it too. Red meat was once implicated in a wave of studies and linked to heart disease and other maladies, before being absolved.

But the microbiome and the surge in advertising for probiotics to promote 'healthy' gut bacteria has implicated red meat again - this time by correlating a nutrient that the authors say is changed by gut bacteria into an atherosclerosis-causing metabolite, which means hardening of the arteries.


The microbes living in people's guts are much less diverse than those in humans' closest relatives, the African apes. What does that mean? No one knows, but the microbiome is all the latest rage in marketing, with probiotics advertised on television and a segment of the research community rushing to create studies to capitalize on that.


A recent study has found that some Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bugs in United Kingdom hospitals can be traced back to a type of bacteria found in farm animals. A strain of drug-resistant bacteria carried by some livestock –Staphylococcus aureus CC398 – has also been found in patients. 

People and animals generally harbor distinct variants of CC398, which the team say evolved from the same original bacteria. However, the CC398 strain found in livestock can be transmitted to humans, and the study shows that this has happened on many occasions. It provides new evidence that the livestock-associated CC398 strain could spread in hospitals, including those with newborn babies.