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Posts Tagged "techniques"

Lab Rat

Glowing fungi for studying infectious diseases

Bioluminescent dinoflagellates on a breaking wave. Image by catalano82 on flickr

When studying how infections grow and spread it is always helpful to be able to see the organism causing the disease. There are currently a range of microbial and labelling techniques available to view micro-organisms within the cells they infect, and one of the most useful is bioluminescence imaging. This takes advantage of a natural [...]

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Lab Rat

Breaking down the city walls: small molecules that target bacterial biofilms

Polymicrobic biofilm grown on a stainless steel surface in a laboratory potable water biofilm reactor for 14 days, then stained with 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and examined by epifluorescence microscopy. Bar, 20 µm.

Although bacteria are single celled organisms, they are capable of working together in massive bacterial colonies known as biofilms. Within the biofilm bacteria will differentiate to perform different tasks, all wrapped up within a sticky substance that holds the cells together. I’ve written about biofilms before; how they form and how they work in space! [...]

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Lab Rat

The pathogen detectives: sourcing the post-earthquake cholera outbreak in Haiti

this is not a pipe

Natural disasters such as earthquakes can have far-reaching effects beyond the damage caused on the day they occur. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti damaged the already limited sanitation systems leading to areas without adequate toilet and washing facilities; perfect for the spread of infection diseases. Sure enough 9 months following the quake there was an [...]

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Lab Rat

Categorising bacteria in purple and pink

220px-Gram_stain_01

When confronted with a new bacteria there are a series of simple tests that can be carried out to give a rough idea of the properties of the bacteria you are dealing with. One of the simplest and most useful tests is known as “Gram staining” which is a process of staining cells either purple [...]

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Lab Rat

Lab-work without a lab: culturing bacteria in rural areas with limited resources

Bottles of culture resting on phase-change packets inside an insulated container. Image from the reference.

In order to isolate, study and efficiently treat a bacterial outbreak, it is vital to be able to grow, store and identify the particular strains of bacteria that cause the disease. While this can be a fairly simple task in a well stocked laboratory, it’s a lot harder to achieve out in the field, in [...]

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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

Developing new antibiotic compounds: Dual-targeting inhibitors

This crystal structure shows how the drug candidate molecule GP-12 binds to one of its cellular targets, Gyrase-B, from pathogenic E. faecalis. (c) Trius Therapeutics, Inc.

A lot of the research that gets highlighted on this blog is academic, providing fascinating insights into bacterial behaviour and potential antibiotic targets. I was excited, therefore, to have the opportunity to highlight some industrial research, looking at developing new antibiotic compounds against a broad-spectrum range of bacteria. In particular this research concentrates on potential [...]

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Lab Rat

Tiny RNA fragments control bacterial infections

Streptococcus pneumoniae from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #262. Credit link below.

There is more than one type of genetic material within the cell. As well as DNA, which stores the code for making cellular protiens, there is also RNA, which contains similar snatches of code but is less stable and more mobile than DNA. If DNA is a library of books which are not allowed to [...]

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Lab Rat

How Barley Protects Against Invasion

A ladybird on barley - image by T. Voekler, credit below

Unlike animals, plants do not have a circulating blood system containing cell capable of fighting off bacterial invasion. Instead, they have to rely on various other techniques, which I covered in detail way back on my old Field of Science blog. One method they use is to kill off cells that are close to a bacterial or [...]

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Lab Rat

How bacteria in the vagina change during pregnancy

Image from wikimedia commons, no credit supplied.

One thing that becomes more clear with each piece of research is that the human body is a hive of mostly harmless bacteria that live in any crevice they can reach while affecting their human host as little as possible. In some cases these bacteria can be very beneficial – preventing more dangerous bacteria from taking up [...]

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Symbiartic

Learning the Art of Science Illustration

14-020FEATURE

If you’ve ever wondered what it would take to combine your love of science and art, there is a conference on the horizon that might just be the inspiration you’ve been waiting for. This summer in Boulder, CO, the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators is hosting its annual conference and it is not to be [...]

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