Microbiology

The bacterium Bacillus subtilis is quite adaptable, it moves about in liquids and on agar surfaces by means of flagella and alternatively, it can just stick to an underlying substrate. 

The bacteria proliferate most effectively in this stationary state, while motile bacteria reproduce at a noticably lower rate.

In order to sustain and extend the colony, bacteria primarily require sufficient nutrients. Moving slowly means that nutrients are soon used up, but adventurous bacteria that decide to move out fast in search for a microbial Cockaigne may end up feeling lonely.

Which strategy offers the best prospects for the organisms? Should one specialize in growth or migration, or be a generalist and steer a balanced course?

Food-poisoning outbreaks linked to Escherichia coli are often associated with tainted meat products but up to 30% of these are caused by people eating contaminated vegetables, and that has risen with the popularity of the organic process, as was seen in the 2011 outbreak in Europe that caused 53 deaths.

A new presentation at the Society for General Microbiology's Annual Meeting in Liverpool showed that disease-causing E. coli O157:H7 interacts directly with plant cells, allowing it to anchor to the surface of a plant, where it can multiply.


Humans depend on microbes for survival. So do most animals and such symbioses can persist for millions of years.

Scientists have discovered that certain wasps tightly control mother-to-offspring transmission of their bacterial symbionts. This stabilizes the symbiotic alliance and contributed to its persistence over the past 68-110 million years.


It's no secret that bacterial parasites can change creatures. The parasitic lancet liver fluke infects the brain of ants, compelling them to climb to the tip of a blade of grass and into the mouth of a grazing animal. Another parasite is thought to change the behavior of rats to make them more susceptible to predation. 

They basically become zombies. And some bacterial parasites can even turn plants into the living dead.

Not many people care about where the yeast that makes much of modern beer possible came from. But science cares.

The cold-adapted yeast that blended with a distant cousin to make the lager-churning hybrid has been a biological black box for the last 500 years of industrial fermentation, even though fermentation underpins the production of everything from soy sauce to biofuel. A few years ago, scientists identified the South American yeast that, hundreds of years ago, somehow hitched a ride to Bavaria and combined with the domesticated Old World yeast used for millennia to make ale and bread to form the hybrid that makes lager or cold stored beer.


Of the uncertainties facing climate modelers, climate feedbacks from decomposition by soil microbes are among the biggest. 

The dynamics among soil microbes allow them to work more efficiently and flexibly as they break down organic matter – spewing less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than previously thought, according to a new study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna published in Ecology Letters.


The antibiotic-resistant bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae sequence type 258 (ST258) is the predominant cause of human infections among bacteria classified as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which kill approximately 600 people annually in the United States and sicken thousands more.

Most CRE infections occur in hospitals and long-term care facilities among patients who are already weakened by unrelated disease or have undergone certain medical procedures.  


Aggressive marketing by raw milk proponents has included claims that raw milk is easier to stomach for for lactose-intolerant people but a pilot study from the Stanford University School of Medicine shows no meaningful difference in digestibility between raw and pasteurized milk.


We tend to think of antibiotic resistance as a product of modern medicine and the mutation ability of pesky viruses to get around dying.

Writing in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a team of investigators say they have discovered viruses containing genes for antibiotic resistance in a fossilized fecal sample from 14th century Belgium, long before antibiotics were used in medicine. 


A new study finds that bacterial movement is impeded in flowing water, enhancing the likelihood that the microbes will attach to surfaces, which sheds some new light on how infections take hold in medical devices.

The findings were the result of microscopic analysis of bacteria inside microfluidic devices and combined experimental observations with mathematical modeling. The study showed that the flow of liquid can have two significant effects on microbes: “It quenches the ability of microbes to chase food,” says co-author Roman Stocker, an assitant professor of civil engineering at MIT, “and it helps microbes find surfaces.”