Microbiology

There is microbiology and then there is micro-micro-microbiology.

The existence of ultra-small bacteria has been debated for decades, but now there is comprehensive electron microscopy and DNA-based evidence of the elusive microbes that are about as small as life can get. 

The cells have an average volume of 0.009 cubic microns (a micron is one millionth of a meter). About 150 of these bacteria could fit inside an Escherichia coli cell and more than 150,000 cells could fit onto the tip of a human hair. 

By:
Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

(Inside Science) -- Viruses that invaded the DNA of humanity's ancestors millions of years ago may now play critical roles in the earliest stages of human development, researchers say.

The discovery sheds light on the key part that viruses may have played in human evolution, scientists added.

Wheat is a critical staple crop that provides 20% of the calories and over 25% of the protein consumed by humans.

'Yellow rust' caused by the fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST) is one of the plant's major diseases and is found throughout the major wheat-producing areas of the world. Infections lead to significant reductions in both grain quality and yield, with some rare events leading to the loss of an entire crop. New strains of the fungus have recently emerged that adapt to warmer temperatures.
Oats are often touted for lowering bad cholesterol,  improving the immune system, lowering blood pressure and, more recently, being gluten-free, but a new study finds that some oat-based breakfast cereals in the U.S. contain a mold-related toxin called ochratoxin A (OTA) that's been linked to kidney cancer in animal studies. 

Natural or not, they may need closer monitoring for potential mold contamination, warns a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

A new genetic therapeutic technique that has the potential to treat more than half of the patients suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), according to a new study. 


Just about everyone in the developed world has taken an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection and the instructions are well-known; don't stop after you start to feel better, even though you know they are killing machines.

Yet the picture may be more complex, according to a new paper, and it might change our understanding of why bacteria produce antibiotics in the first place. 

"For a long time we've thought that bacteria make antibiotics for the same reasons that we love them - because they kill other bacteria," said  Elizabeth Shank, an assistant professor of biology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "However, we've also known that antibiotics can sometimes have pesky side-effects, like stimulating biofilm formation." 
Would you like some Campylobacter or E. Coli today? Raw milk in 26 U.S. states is now the best place to get it, since most readers of Science 2.0 are not going to have the opportunity to buy chicken from a street vendor in China.
         “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

T. Dolzhansy (Russian Geneticist)

         “We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realize that we are apes.”

                                             Richard Dawkins

We have beneficial bacteria because of symbiosis: the success of the host determines the survival and spread of the microbe. But if bacteria grow too much they may become deadly. In a new study, a research team from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia found that a single genomic change can turn beneficial bacteria into pathogenic bacteria, by boosting bacterial density inside the host.

Ewa Chrostek and Luis Teixeira studied the symbiosis between a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and the bacterium Wolbachia to answer how benign bacteria become pathogenic. Wolbachia is present in most insect species and protects some of them against viruses, including the dengue fever virus.

Every summer, there are reports linking a bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus to people getting sick or dying. The bacteria are found in warm saltwater and problems occur after eating raw tainted shellfish or when an open wound comes in contact with seawater.

People with a weakened immune system, chronic liver disease or iron overload disease are most at risk for severe illness. Vibrio vulnificus infections in high-risk individuals are fatal 50 percent of the time.