Microbiology

Valium (Diazepam) and similar medicines degrade naturally in the environment but it takes time, and until it happens there is concern about the freshwater environment.

Bacterial breakdown may give it a boost, a team of researchers has said.

Diazepam, used to treat anxiety and other similar conditions, has been detected in rivers across the UK and Europe. At the levels recorded, there is concern it may have the potential to produce harmful ecological effects in surface waters, including changing the behavior of fish shoals and their ability to sense danger from predators.


Bacteria that metabolize ammonia may improve skin health and could even be used for the treatment of skin disorders like acne, finds a new study conducted by AOBiome LLC. Ammonia is a major component of sweat. 

In a small study, human volunteers using the bacteria reported better skin condition and appearance compared with a placebo control group. 


A team of researchers headed by Prof Dr. Nicole Frankenberg-Dinkel at Ruhr-University Bochum have revealed similarities and differences in the assembly of the light-harvesting machinery of the cryptophyte Guillardia theta compared to cyanobacteria and red algae.

Cryptophytes: Matryoshka dolls of the waters


A team of researchers has developed a new model to study the motion patterns of bacteria in real time and to determine how these motions relate to communication within a bacterial colony.

The researchers chemically attached colonies of Escherichia coli bacteria to a microcantilever – a microscopic beam anchored at one end, similar to a diving board – thus coupling its motion to that of the bacteria. As the cantilever itself isn't doesn't generate any vibrations, or 'noise,' this allowed the researchers to monitor the colony's reactions to various stimuli in real time.


Yogurt with probiotics are one of the latest health fads, but no one is sure they are doing anything at all and, if they are, that it is helping. 

Probiotics are defined by marketing groups as "live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host, beyond the common nutritional effects." Proponents believe they facilitate fiber digestion, might boost the immune system and prevent or treat diarrhea. Dozens of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are marketed in foods like yogurts and fermented milk products.
Imagine being able to go from the hottest of hots to the coldest of colds, and endure both extreme droughts, where 97% of your body water is gone, and airless vacuums such as space.

The African midge,  Polypedilum vanderplanki, can do all that and an international team deciphered the genetic mechanism that makes it invulnerable to these harsh conditions.

The midge is capable of anhydrobiosis, a unique state that allows an organism to survive after losing almost all of its body water, along with other severe conditions, such as extreme temperatures ranging from 90°C to -270°C, vacuums and high doses of radiation; all of which would be lethal to most other life forms.

Tiny single-cell organisms living underground could help with the problem of nuclear waste disposal, according to a paper in the ISME (Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology) Journal.
  This is good news for Americans, since the Obama administration has lost the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository application even more often than the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has lost the emails showing they targeted political opponents.

Bacteria with waste-eating properties have been discovered before, but in relatively pristine soils. This is the first time finding microbes that can survive in the very harsh conditions expected in radioactive waste disposal sites.



Soon to be grown for ornamental use only.Credit: Mark Nesbitt and Samuel Delwen, CC BY

By Luc Henry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

Immunotoxins are targeted antibodies that go after deadly toxins like ricin.

In the quest to find targeted therapies for cancer - that kill cancer but spare the surrounding tissue, immunotoxins make perfect sense. But they have not succeeded in part because cancer cells share many molecules with normal cells and because it can be challenging to unlock the deadly chemical only after the antibody has homed to the diseased tissue.


In the search for enzymes that can break lignocellulose down into biofuel sugars under the extreme conditions of a refinery, researchers are investigating new ways to release plant sugars from lignin for the production of liquid transportation fuels. Sugars can be fermented into fuels once the woody matter comprised of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin is broken down, but lignocellulose is tough.

For various chemical reasons, all of which add up to cost-competitiveness, biorefineries could benefit if the production of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass is carried out at temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Celsius.