More than 600 million people could be fed each year by halting the spread of fungal diseases in the world's five most important crops - rice, wheat, maize, potatoes and soybeans
Recent data further suggests that in 70% of cases where infectious disease causes the extinction of a type of animal or plant, an emerging species of fungus is behind the problem.
At one time, J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., was a maverick outsider, determined to beat Big Science to the human genome and at a lot less cost. Now he is the ultimate insider, giving a plenary talk at the most recent American Chemical Society meeting.
Imagine, if you will, that your computer screen (or iThingie, or DroidDevice) were to suddenly explode, driving a shard of shrapnel deep into your shoulder. Very quickly, your white blood cells would sense the intruder and rush to the site of the insult, hunt down invading bacteria, and just generally do what they do. But if you think about it, these are single cells! How does a single cell sense where to go, and then keep moving in that direction?
Where would we be without fungi and microbes to break down dead trees and leaf litter in nature? Up to our eyeballs in arborial garbage, that's where.
Archaea, one of the three "domains of life" on Earth - the other two being bacteria and eukaryota (plants and animals) - strangely do not seem to be part of any food chain.
But maybe they soon will be - and it just might help solve future climate change issues. Archaea, a type of single-celled microorganism, perform many key ecosystem services including being involved with nitrogen cycling, and they are known to be the main mechanism by which marine methane is kept out of the atmosphere.
What if bacteria could talk? Or use touch? A new study hypothesizes that bacterial cells may need to communicate in order to perform certain functions.
Bacteria can multiply rapidly, potentially doubling every 20 minutes in ideal conditions but this exponential growth phase is preceded by a period known as lag phase, where no increase in cell number is seen. Lag phase was first described in the 19th Century, and was assumed to be needed by bacteria to prepare to exploit new environmental conditions - they are basically Zombies. Beyond this, surprisingly little is known about lag phase, other than bacteria are metabolically active in this period. But exactly what are bacteria doing physiologically during that time?
In November 2011, NASA launched its biggest, most ambitious mission to Mars. The $2.5 billion Mars Science Lab spacecraft will arrive in orbit around the Red Planet this August, releasing a lander that will use rockets to control a slow descent into the atmosphere. Equipped with a “sky crane,” the lander will gently lower the one-ton Curosity rover on the surface of Mars.
The results of a recent study characterizing microbial communities in public restrooms may be enough to change the ways of those who don't already wash their hands after using the toilet. The study found that restrooms are dominated by human-associated bacteria--particularly those from the skin, gut, and urinary tract. Although this is not particularly surprising, the "biogeography" of these species--or which surfaces they were most commonly found inhabiting--was a bit unexpected. While there were three distinct clusters of species (bacteria on or near toilets, those on the floor, and those on surfaces mostly touched by hands), there were also several groups of bacteria that were present on all surfaces.
Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem. More and more resistant strains of microbes are appearing. Needless to state that this has a huge human and economic cost. Combining this with the increasing globalization, the threat of a global outbreak of an infection caused by a multidrug-resistant bacterium looms over our heads as Damocles’ sword. This perhaps sounds too ominous, but it speaks for itself that research into the development of antibiotic resistance could prove very useful.
To explore this problem, a group of scientists gathered in Cold Spring Harbor, NY at the Banbury Conference Centre to address the issues involved and identify key steps in dealing with this threat. Seven actions that urgently need to be undertaken were identified: