You’ve seen it in TV shows, movies, plays, and especially soap operas; silly fantasies in which one is able to create a concoction capable of inducing their victim into uncontrollable infatuation. This concept however, much to the dismay of many, has not been turned into reality. In truth, the emotion of love and it’s development is one that science has little explanation to offer, so the idea of a “love potion” seems out of reach.
Oil spills, and the environmental damage they cause, are one of the most dangerous and detrimental events to occur on Earth. The aftermath felt by affected ecosystems is almost irreversible, with practically no living organism capable of withstanding such pollution to their environment. As you may remember the Deepwater Horizon spill that occurred in 2010, the scope of devastation in which the Gulf of Mexico was exposed to was unfathomable, leaving thousands of organisms with unlivable conditions. What’s worse yet is the inability of human response to the containment and deterrence of these spills in an efficient manner, thus exponentially increasing the damage inflicted on the environment. However, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Library have conducted studies into the microbial contribution to oil degradation and the possibilities it may present, specifically to the Deepwater Horizon event of 2010.
Did you know, as a patient, you present more organisms to your doctor for treatment than there are humans on earth? It’s okay if you didn’t, even Alexander Fleming probably didn’t realize when he discovered penicillin that the effects of this xenobiotic (foreign chemical substance found within an organism that is not naturally produced by or expected to be present within) depended on trillions (over ten trillion to be exact) of bacteria’s metabolic pathways. These bacteria account for the microbial world known as the gut microbiome, and their effects on xenobiotics can have beneficial, or sometimes deadly, effects.
When you think back to the age of dinosaurs, you probably picture a world of giant, ferocious animals roaming around humid and densely green environments. As such, it’s hard to imagine modern humans coexisting with anything from that time period. Yet, according to research published recently in Cell, we are living amongst creatures today that thrived not only in the era of dinosaurs but also as early as animals first adapted to living on land. Those creatures are antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
If you aren’t a dendrologist (an expert on woody plants, like trees), you’re probably not up-to-date on the latest news in the world of trees. Fortunately, we at CosmosID are obsessed with unlocking the world of microbes, which are everywhere, including in and on trees and soil, so we’ve got you covered with this post.
It was roughly six years ago – back in 2011 – that a magnitude-9 earthquake triggered a catastrophic tsunami, which devastated areas of northeastern Japan. You may recall the subsequent headlines, many of which focused on the resulting Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown. It’s scary to think that this disaster was neither the largest nor deadliest earthquake-tsunami combo in history. And that grim point is one reason a team from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology Kochi Institute is looking for ways to mitigate the size of tsunamis. What's possibly most interesting about the institute’s recent tsunami research, though, is that they’ve been investigating how to use bacteria to stifle tsunami size.
While many questions about the ocean remain unanswered, researchers have been able to understand the journey algae take when they die, namely floating to the ocean floor and settling with the rest of the deep-sea sludge. Given that this process is happening constantly in oceans all around the world, lots of algal remains accumulate on top of the bacteria living on the seafloor. Over time, this kills many of those bacteria. However, a peculiar bunch of these bacteria have been able to survive. To learn more about these mysterious organisms, biologists and geochemists collected drilled-out samples of seabed that represent hundreds of thousands of years of organic matter accumulation. As reported recently in a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publication, researchers have made some remarkable observations about the microbial communities surviving beneath the seafloor sediment.
As the CosmosID blog illustrates regularly, microbes are remarkable for their ability to shape and affect just about every aspect of the world we live in. Yet, each week we are newly awed by publications that highlight discoveries of microbial feats and applications. This week was no different, as we were captivated by a story about a researcher who aims to cure cancer using Salmonella. The idea of treating cancer with bacteria is not new. In fact, research on this particular topic dates back to at least the 1890s. However, up until now, research efforts have been inhibited by the toxicity of Salmonella.
While biomanufacturing processes have improved in performance and complexity since the mid ‘70s, and the early days of companies like Genentech, scientists have remained diligent students of natural cellular processes, which efficiently produce all sorts of beneficial compounds for products like drugs and fuels. It was in this line of research that Princeton University scientists discovered recently a global genetic regulator that can activate many otherwise silent gene clusters in a bacterium. As described in a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) publication, this finding could enable scientists to supercharge these microbes’ natural compound production capabilities.
You may or may not be a beer drinker or know much about the brewing industry as a whole but regardless of where you fall on those spectrums of familiarity, you’ll likely be surprised by the role bacteria were found to play in hurting the quality of beer in the United Kingdom, as reported in the Beer Quality Report 2017. Published by Cask Marque, a beer quality watchdog in the UK, the Beer Quality Report shares the results of research done in 22,000 pubs across the United Kingdom. Perhaps of note to the microbiology community is the report’s section on line cleaning.