Microbiology

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.


A loss of dietary diversity during the past 50 years could be a contributing factor to the rise in obesity, Type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal problems and other diseases, according to a lecture by Mark Heiman, vice president and chief scientific officer at MicroBiome Therapeutics, at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago.

Heiman said diet is the principal regulator of the GI microbiome, the ecosystem of the human GI tract. The microbiome contains trillions of bacteria (microbiota) in a solution of unabsorbed macro- and micro-nutrients. The microbiota use the remnants from digestion to create new signaling molecules that allow the microbiota to communicate with a person's metabolic and GI regulatory system.


Television commercials assure us that probiotic products are good for our health, with claims ranging from improved digestion to managing allergies and colds,

If so, why wouldn't plants also benefit from certain microbes?


One Shake Shack French fry may lead you to eat a whole batch, and don't even get started on the power of Doritos. According to a new study using rats, that high-fat indulgence literally changes the populations of bacteria residing inside the gut and also alters the signaling to the brain.

The result? The brain no longer senses signals for fullness, which can cause overeating--a leading cause of obesity. 

The findings presented this week at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior liken a high fat diet to how a sudden significant shift in temperature might impact the people who live in the affected area: Some people will be fine. Others will become ill.


Trees that can tolerate soil pollution are also better at defending themselves against pests and pathogens.

While studying the presence of genetic information (RNA) from fungi and bacteria in the trees, the researchers found evidence of a very large amount of RNA from a very common plant pest called the two-spotted spidermite.

99% of spidermite RNA was in higher abundance in trees without contamination, suggesting that the polluted plant's defense mechanisms, used to protect itself against chemical contamination, improves its resistance to a biological invader. 


In a step that they say overturns traditional assumptions and practice, researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai and Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhi Nagar have fashioned bacteria to emit intense, hard x-ray radiation.

When one thinks of hard x-rays and bacteria it is usually that the bacteria are at the receiving end of the x-ray source - being imaged, irradiated for some modification or simply assessed for radiation damage. One hardly thinks of using bacteria as a source of x-rays, far from turning them into the brightest among such sources.


A collaborative group of Japanese researchers has demonstrated that the Earth's daily rotation period (24 hours) is encoded in the KaiC protein at the atomic level, a small, 10 nm-diameter biomolecule expressed in cyanobacterial cells.

The results of this joint research will help elucidate a longstanding question in chronobiology: How is the circadian period of biological clocks determined? The results will also help understand the basic molecular mechanism of the biological clock. This knowledge might contribute to the development of therapies for disorders associated with abnormal circadian rhythms.


To predict how a seasonal influenza epidemic will spread across the United States, one should focus more on the mobility of people than on their geographic proximity, a new study suggests. Their results mark the first time genetic patterns for the spread of flu have been detected at the scale of the continental United States.

"We found that the spread of a flu epidemic is somewhat predictable by looking at transportation data, especially ground commuter networks and H1N1," says Brooke Bozick, who led the study as a graduate student in Emory's Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution program. "Finding these kinds of patterns is the first step in being able to develop targeted surveillance and control strategies."