Microbiology

Genetic mutations called "escape variants" in the deadly Ebola virus appear to block the ability of antibody-based treatments to ward off infection, according to a team of U.S. Army scientists and collaborators.

New research has uncovered why a particular strain of Staphylococcus aureus -- known as HA-MRSA -- becomes more deadly than other variations. These new findings open up possible new pathways to vaccine development against this bacterium, which the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions says accounts for over 10,000 deaths annually, mostly among hospital patients.

In a series of experiments in mice and in human immune cells in the lab, a team found that the presence or absence of dueling toxins, or bacterial poisons, appears to explain the major difference between HA-MRSA, and its less virulent and more common, community based-based cousin, CA-MRSA, the two main types of MRSA infection.

Every now and then you get a 3-1, 86 mph fastball down the middle of the plate. You just have to swing.

This exact pitch was thrown in Washington this week. Not the Nationals. By the PostThey ran a superbly silly story this week entitled  "The dirtiest places on an airplane, ranked." I swung.

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a study from Sahlgrenska Academy published in Cell Metabolism.

The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.

Researchers have unraveled the mystery cause of the emerging wheat disease White Grain Disorder, by isolating three previously undiscovered fungi from infected wheat samples and sequenced their genomes.

Australian wheat exports are worth more than $6 billion a year with diseases costing the industry around $1 billion a year. White Grain Disorder emerged about 20 years ago and has sporadically affected crops in Southern Queensland and South Australia, but until now has been poorly understood.

The crucial genetic mashup that spawned the yeast that brews the vast majority of beer occurred at least twice -- and both times without human help -- according to a new study.

By:  Karin Heineman, Inside Science TV – Viruses: they’re too tiny for us to see, yet they’re lurking everywhere.  And guess what? They spread really fast through an office environment.

“Most people don’t realize they easily spread by your hands,” said University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba. Most people think that viruses spread by inhaling sick people’s coughs or sneezes, but “it’s really when those droplets settle out and you touch that surface” that tiny viruses spread, he said. People unknowingly bring their virus-covered fingers to their noses, mouths, or eyes, kicking off infection.

The New York City subway system is notorious for its filth and grime, something that was captured well in Jonath Hertzberg’s 2013 video essay, titled Dirty Old New York Subway, which cataloged the trains’ cinematic history.

In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), atherosclerosis is exceedingly common and contributes to the development of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in this group. New research suggests that an organic byproduct generated by intestinal bacteria may be responsible for the formation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries of individuals with decreased kidney function. The findings suggest that targeting this byproduct may be a novel strategy for safeguarding the heart health of patients with CKD. 

A new paper says protective probiotics could fight the "chytrid" fungus that has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide.

Jenifer Walke, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, and collaborators have grown bacterial species from the skin microbiome of four species of amphibians.