Microbiology

Researchers have unraveled the mystery cause of the emerging wheat disease White Grain Disorder, by isolating three previously undiscovered fungi from infected wheat samples and sequenced their genomes.

Australian wheat exports are worth more than $6 billion a year with diseases costing the industry around $1 billion a year. White Grain Disorder emerged about 20 years ago and has sporadically affected crops in Southern Queensland and South Australia, but until now has been poorly understood.


The crucial genetic mashup that spawned the yeast that brews the vast majority of beer occurred at least twice -- and both times without human help -- according to a new study.


By:  Karin Heineman, Inside Science TV – Viruses: they’re too tiny for us to see, yet they’re lurking everywhere.  And guess what? They spread really fast through an office environment.

“Most people don’t realize they easily spread by your hands,” said University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba. Most people think that viruses spread by inhaling sick people’s coughs or sneezes, but “it’s really when those droplets settle out and you touch that surface” that tiny viruses spread, he said. People unknowingly bring their virus-covered fingers to their noses, mouths, or eyes, kicking off infection.

The New York City subway system is notorious for its filth and grime, something that was captured well in Jonath Hertzberg’s 2013 video essay, titled Dirty Old New York Subway, which cataloged the trains’ cinematic history.

In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), atherosclerosis is exceedingly common and contributes to the development of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in this group. New research suggests that an organic byproduct generated by intestinal bacteria may be responsible for the formation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries of individuals with decreased kidney function. The findings suggest that targeting this byproduct may be a novel strategy for safeguarding the heart health of patients with CKD. 


A new paper says protective probiotics could fight the "chytrid" fungus that has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide.

Jenifer Walke, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, and collaborators have grown bacterial species from the skin microbiome of four species of amphibians. 


The immune system protects us from the constant onslaught of viruses, bacteria and other types of pathogens we encounter throughout life. It also remembers past infections so it can fight them off more easily the next time we encounter them.

But the immune system can sometimes misbehave. It can start attacking its own proteins, rather than the infection, causing autoimmunity. Or, it can effectively respond to one variant of a virus, but then is unable to stop another variant of the virus. This is termed the original antigenic sin (OAS).

The discovery of unusual foraging activity in bacteria species populating our gut may explain how conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) link to changes in the populations of bacteria in our gut. IBD affects 1 in every 250 people but its causes are unknown. Studies have shown that IBD patients have a different profile of gut microbes, which is called dysbiosis.

All of us have trillions of beneficial bacteria in our gut, but the combination of different species, known as the microbiome, varies. A crucial question has been whether IBD causes our microbiome to change, or whether an imbalanced microbiome could be triggering IBD. And exactly how does one affect the other? We need to study these interactions to define new targets for therapeutics.


10 percent of health care providers write an antibiotic prescription for nearly all (over 95 percent) of patients who walks in with a cold, bronchitis or other acute respiratory infection (ARI), according to a new study.

The figure is at one end of a spectrum showing the remarkable variation in how providers use antibiotics. At the low end, 10 percent of providers prescribe antibiotics during 40 percent or fewer patient visits.


If probiotics have success for boosting human health (that is in doubt, despite the number of papers capitalizing on the craze) it may depend partly upon the food or other material carrying the probiotics, according to a paper in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.