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Posts Tagged "biochemistry"

The Artful Amoeba

Love Wine and Tea? Scientists Discover Plant Part Whence Their Pucker Springs

tea_cup_variety_wiki_pd_200

When you take a sip of red wine or black tea, you’re swallowing a stiff swig of tannins. These astringent plant chemicals give the beverages their characteristic pucker. Now, the part of plant cells that makes and transports tannins — long overlooked by botanists — has at last been discovered, hiding right under our noses. [...]

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Lab Rat

Urease: an anti-microbial target in bacteria and fungi

Proteus bacteria growing on an agar plate

Urea is a small molecule formed as proteins are broken down. It’s excreted in urine, but isn’t particularly toxic at low levels so it’s found in cells throughout the body. The molecular structure of urea is below, and as it contains nitrogen (N) several pathogens have adapted to use it as a nitrogen source using [...]

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Lab Rat

Fussy eaters: the favoured food of Salmonella

The chemical structure of fructose-asparagine, image from the reference.

As antibiotic resistance increases the search for new anti-bacterial treatments becomes more and more important. One way to design anti-bacterials is to find specific biochemical pathways that the bacteria require to survive, and develop drugs that block off these pathways. Some pathways are better targets than others and for Salmonella bacteria it was thought that pathways [...]

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Lab Rat

Happy New Year – the blog retrospective

HNY-funky

Last year, my New Year’s Resolution was to try for a child with my husband. As I’m currently typing while trying to entertain a three month old baby I think I can safely claim that as one of the most successful New Year’s Resolutions I’ve ever made. I’ve been blogging at Scientific American for well [...]

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Lab Rat

Guest post: Bricks of knowledge

The Copenhagen iGEM team

While I’m getting used to my new arrival the iGEM Team from Copenhagen have kindly provided a great guest post about their work over the summer. Further information about their project can be found on the Copenhagen iGEM team website. iGEM Team Copenhagen: Paying it forward to future iGEM’ers with ‘Bricks of Knowledge’ Inspired by [...]

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Lab Rat

How to eat your host: Pathways for nutrition in Salmonella

Salmonella typhimurium. Photo: Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany. Image from reference 2.

From the point of view of an intracellular bacteria, the human body really is no more than just a habitat in which they must grow and thrive. While this particular habitat might have stable internal conditions, and less competition than the big open world, it has its disadvantages in continuous attacks from the immune system, and the [...]

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Lab Rat

The bacteria that use cholesterol to get into cells.

Diagram of the membrane that surrounds human cells. The two layers of phospholipids can be seen (blue and while spheres with the lipid tails pointing inwards) studded with bright red proteins. The yellow blobs within the phospholipid layer are cholesterol.

Although it usually only gets talked about when it starts causing problems, cholesterol is an important molecule to have in the body, as it is a component of cell membranes. The major component of cell membranes is a molecule called a phospholipid; an inorganic phosphate molecule joined onto lipid tails. Lots of these phospholipids all [...]

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Lab Rat

Toxic Little Molecules

The rod shaped Clostridium Difficile bacteria, image from the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

There are various different ways that pathogenic bacteria can damage and kill human cells, but one of the most common is by the production of toxic molecules. These small molecules are made inside the bacterial cell, the protein chain built using the DNA template and then often modified within the cell before being secreted directly [...]

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Lab Rat

The origin of breathing: how bacteria learnt to use oxygen

abiogenesis

Thursday 26th July saw the launch of SciLogs.com, a new English language science blog network. SciLogs.com, the brand-new home for Nature Network bloggers, forms part of the SciLogs international collection of blogs which already exist in German, Spanish and Dutch. To celebrate this addition to the NPG science blogging family, some of the NPG blogs are publishing posts focusing on “Beginnings”. Participating in this cross-network blogging festival is nature.com’s Soapbox Science blog, Scitable’s Student [...]

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Lab Rat

How bacteria break down human food

The structure of cellulose, from wikimedia commons. Although at first glance it looks very complex, notice that it is built up from the simple-sugar units shown in the picture above.

Last weeks post on the changing composition of bacteria in the vagina generated a lot of interest, and as there’s been quite a of talk about the human microbiome (all the bacteria that live on the human body) at the moment I thought I’d stick with the theme. This weeks post is about how bacteria [...]

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Lab Rat

The Bacteria that Commit Honourable Suicide

A simple diagram of the interactions between the two. The entire story is more complex, and can be found in the references

In multicellular organisms it is essential that every cell behaves and does the job it was produced to perform. The survival of a multicellular organism depends on this  - every cell in your body is tightly controlled in terms of how big it can grow (fairly big), when it can reproduce (almost never) and what [...]

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Observations

Food Delivers a Cocktail of Hormone-Like Signals to Body

The chicken pesto pasta on your plate is more than just tasty fuel to keep you going. The dish has carbohydrates, fats and proteins to be sure, but it also contains other nutrients and chemicals that send subtle cues and instructions to your cells. More and more researchers are arguing that to better grasp how [...]

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PsiVid

Monday Music Video: A Biochemical Cover of a Tune from Wicked!

The internet is full of re-jigged tunes where people force a narrative of scientific concepts into a recognizable song. We all know many of these can be painful to listen to (or watch if it is in video format). But today, I have one so well done, I can watch it over and over. I’ll [...]

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