Microbiology

A probiotic that prevents obesity could be on the horizon, at least if an animal model translates to humans. Bacteria that produce a therapeutic compound in the gut inhibit weight gain, insulin resistance and other adverse effects of a high-fat diet in mice, Vanderbilt University investigators say.

A lot would have to happen before this could move to human studies - regulatory hurdles and raising millions of dollars in venture capital, but the findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation have the researchers excited because they suggest that it may be possible to manipulate the bacterial residents of the gut — the gut microbiota — to treat obesity and other chronic diseases.


Researchers have detected a previously unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water and left to dry, bacteria manipulate the sodium chloride crystallisation to create biomineralogical biosaline 3D morphologically complex formations, where they hibernate.

Afterwards, by rehydrating the material, bacteria are revived. The discovery was made by chance with a home microscope but made the cover of Astrobiology because it may be a way to find signs of life on other planets.


A sake brewery has its own microbial terroir, meaning the microbial populations found on surfaces in the facility resemble those found in the product and help create the final flavor. This is the first time investigators have taken a microbial census of a sake brewery. 

Many sake makers inoculate with both bacteria and yeast, says corresponding author David A. Mills of the University of California, Davis, but he and his colleagues investigated a sake brewery where inoculation is restricted to a single species, Aspergillus oryzae, at the first of three stages of fermentation.


A newly discovered gut virus, crAssphage, probably isn't new at all, it was just discovered. But it's in half the world's population, according to estimates. 

A new paper in Nature Communications says crAssphage infects one of the most common types of gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes. This phylum of bacteria is thought to be connected with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases. 

Robert A. Edwards, a bioinformatics professor at San Diego State University, and colleagues stumbled upon the discovery while using results from previous studies on gut-inhabiting viruses to screen for new viruses.


After studying 137 varieties of cheese collected in 10 different countries, systems biologists at Harvard University have been able to identify three general types of microbial communities that live on cheese, opening the door to using each as a "model" community for the study of whether and how various microbes and fungi compete or cooperate as they form communities, what molecules may be involved in the process and what mechanisms may be involved.


Using shotgun metagenomics to sequence DNA from a calcified nodule in the pelvic region of a 700-year-old middle-aged male skeleton excavated from the settlement of Geridu in Sardinia, European researchers have recovered a genome of the bacterium Brucella melitensis.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is rightfully concerned that the U.S. faces “potentially catastrophic consequences” from the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections, which kill about 23,000 Americans a year.

One solution is personalized antibiotic therapy, but that would require both rapid bacterial identification and narrow-spectrum antibiotics. Tailored antibiotic therapy would not only extend the clinical lifetime of new antibiotics by better managing resistance, it might also revive old antibiotics that have been abandoned due to resistance, toxicity, or their inability to penetrate bacterial membranes.

We all know what happens to us when we get sick, but at least we have a microbiota to protect us. What happens when those ecosystem bacteria colonizing our guts gets hit with infection?

A new computational models showed how infection can affect bacteria that naturally live in our intestines, which may help clinicians to better treat and prevent gastrointestinal infection and inflammation through a better understanding of the major alterations that occur when foreign bacteria disrupt the gut microbiota.


In some parts of the world, amphibian numbers are in decline. Activists are quick to blame everything from fracking to pesticides for reduced numbers of some frogs, but scientists have linked it to an emerging fungal disease called chytridiomycosis.

New research from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) findss that another pathogen, ranavirus, may also contribute. In a series of mathematical models, researchers showed that ranavirus, which causes severe hemorrhage of internal organs in frogs, could cause extinction of isolated populations of wood frogs if they are exposed to the virus every few years, a scenario that has been documented in wild populations.


There is nothing more natural than sexes. Throughout evolution, living things have repeatedly developed physically distinct genders but how this happens has been a puzzle.

A discovery in the multicellular green alga Volvox carteri may be the revelation of the genetic origin of male and female sexes, showing how they evolved from a more primitive mating system in a single-celled relative.