Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant superbug, can cause life-threatening skin, bloodstream and surgical site infections or pneumonia - a new reports finds that cigarette smoke may make things even worse.

"We already know that smoking cigarettes harms human respiratory and immune cells, and now we've shown that, on the flipside, smoke can also stress out invasive bacteria and make them more aggressive," said senior author Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at UC San Diego and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

Sulfolobus islandicus microbes can go dormant, ceasing to grow and reproduce, in order to protect themselves from infection by Sulfolobus spindle-shaped virus 9 (SSV9).

The dormant microbes are able to recover if the virus goes away within 24 to 48 hours, otherwise they die.  

Sulfolobus is a species of archaea (a domain of single-celled organisms distinct from bacteria) found in acidic hot springs all over the world, where free viruses are not as common as in other environments. These microbes will go dormant in the presence of just a few viruses, whether active or inactive. While inactivated virus particles cannot infect a host, researchers found they could still cause dormancy, and ultimately, death in Sulfolobus. 

Antibiotic resistance is poised to spread globally among bacteria frequently implicated in respiratory and urinary infection, according to new research.

A recent study shows that two genes that confer resistance against a particularly strong class of antibiotics can be shared easily among a family of bacteria responsible for a significant portion of hospital-associated infections. Drug-resistant germs in the same family of bacteria recently infected several patients at two Los Angeles hospitals. The infections have been linked to medical scopes believed to have been contaminated with bacteria that can resist carbapenems, potent antibiotics that are supposed to be used only in gravely ill patients or those infected by resistant bacteria.

Scientists writing in Nature Communications have discovered an antioxidant system that, like a generator kicking in when the power fails, helps sustain the liver when other systems are missing or compromised.

This understudy 'takes the stage' when the lead actor is sick and is fueled by methionine, an amino acid that can't be manufactured in the body and doesn't come from herbal teas or supplements.

People get it only by eating protein.

In parts of the country that do not have icebergs washing up on shore or falling from the sky, it is almost spring planting season. 

For tomatoes, that mean unless you use a toxic organic or synthetic chemical, there is a chance of bacterial infection, leading to stunted growth and less nutritional value. The discovery of new regulations of defense pathways for plants could lead to helping those home-grown tomatoes fight off certain bacteria better and even have implications for pear trees, roses, soybeans and rice.

Tomatoes infected with speck disease often have wilted leaves and damaged fruit. Credit: University of Missouri
Salt-loving, halophilic, microbes could donate proteins to clean up radioactive strontium and caesium ions from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant incident in Japan.

The X-ray structure of a beta-lactamase enzyme from one such microbe, the halophile Chromohalobacter sp. 560, shows it has highly selective cesium binding sites.  A 1.8 to 2.9 angstrom resolution structure for this enzyme. Anomalous X-ray diffraction also revealed binding sites in the protein for Sr2+ and Cs+ ions, the team reports.
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. 

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