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Posts Tagged "microbes"

The Artful Amoeba

Solving a Winemaker’s Dilemma With Wild Yeast

wine_tasting_cup_wiki_pd_200

Have you noticed that wine seems to be packing more punch? Well, it’s not your imagination. Over the past 20 years, wine really has been getting stronger for some reasons that may surprise you. And it’s not a phenomenon that vintners are happy about. They would like to get those alcohol levels down. As a [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

New Octopus-like Protists in Termite Guts Named for HP Lovecraft Cosmic Monster ‘Cthulhu’

Nerds have a particular fascination for the Cthulhu mythos of horror novelist and all-around-weird-guy H. P. Lovecraft. In Lovecraft’s stories, Cthulhu was a tentacle-faced titanic god-monster who slept in a mythic undersea lair called R’lyheh, dreaming of the day he could emerge to destroy humanity. Nerds hold the mythic being in high esteem and have [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

A Closer Look at a Tiny, Floating Horde

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It’s a strange but true fact that the young of many familiar sea creatures look nothing like them. Drifting on currents to distribute their kind, they are an unsung part of the plankton, itself an unsung part of the sea. A few years back, I wrote about the work of Richard Kirby, a research fellow [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Suspicious Virus Makes Rare Cross-Kingdom Leap From Plants to Honeybees

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When HIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the early 1900s, it crossed a gulf spanning several million years of evolution. But tobacco ringspot virus, scientists announced last week, has made a jump that defies credulity. It has crossed a yawning chasm ~1.6 billion years wide. And this is likely bad news for its [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

On the Curious Motions of Syphilis and Lyme Disease Bacteria

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The bacteria that cause syphilis and Lyme Disease have something extraordinary in common: they manage to propel themselves through their environment in spite of the fact their tails are located inside their bodies. For bacteria, they’re also unusually shaped and active. In this movie, you can see the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease moving like [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Fungi on the March: My New Feature Story for Scientific American

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Healthy humans are strangely impervious to fatal fungi. It usually takes something like a shot in the spine with a contaminated drug to give fungi the necessary upper hand. Sure, fungi can be maddening skin irritants, but when was the last time you heard that someone with a normal immune system had died of a [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

How Your Morning Commute Resembles a Fungus

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In many fungi, the DNA storage compartments called nuclei are not prisoners of the cells they reside in, the way they are in animals and plants. Instead, fungal nuclei are free to move about the cabin. They flow through the joined, tube-shaped cells of fungi like busy commuters, and experience many of the same dynamics. [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: The Universe Between the Sand Grains

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This is the fourth post in the Wonderful Things series. As we saw last time, the thin strip of sand found on beaches is home to many organisms that can dwell no where else. But the strip swept by waves — the intertidal — may be the richest part of all. Living between the wet [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: Don’t Eat the Pink Snow

Chlamydomonas_nivalis_geometric_snow_wiki_cc_Ökologix_200

If you stumbled one midsummer on the melting snow in the image below, what would you imagine produced the strange color? Here’s another example with a pinker hue, from further out. Here’s a poorer example that I stumbled on myself on July 4, 2011 on Long’s Peak in Colorado: When an 1818 British expedition led [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Green Alga Found to Prey on Bacteria, Bolstering Endosymbiotic Theory

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A green alga with throat- and stomach-like structures can swallow and digest bacteria when deprived of light, further bolstering Lynn Margulis’s widely accepted idea that the origin of the plant-powering chloroplast was a fortuitous bout of indigestion. Termed “Endosymbiotic Theory“, the idea is that early nucleated cells called eukaryotes ate bacteria that managed to escape [...]

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Expeditions

Fidgeting and planning, and good news for Frank

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is her ninth blog post. To track her research [...]

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Expeditions

A few words about geophysics in the North Pond

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is her eighth blog post. To track her research [...]

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Expeditions

Goodbye, Frank, and back to planning next expedition steps

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is her seventh blog post. To track her research [...]

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Expeditions

Drill, baby, drill: Our first core samples

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is her fifth blog post. To track her research [...]

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Expeditions

Showering while a ship is under steam, and discussions about drilling into the ocean

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is her fourth blog post. To track her research [...]

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Expeditions

How long do microbes at the bottom of the ocean live, anyway?

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is a response to a question from a ScientificAmerican.com [...]

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Expeditions

Sailing at last, and rocking all night, on our way to the North Pond

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is her third blog post. To track her research [...]

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Expeditions

On our way to the North Pond: A strike against the expedition, but just one

Editor’s Note: University of Southern California geobiologist Katrina Edwards is taking part in a three-week drilling project at the Atlantic’s North Pond—a sediment-filled valley on the ocean floor—designed to locate and study what she calls the “intraterrestrials”: the myriad microbial life-forms living inside Earth’s crust. This is her first blog post. To track her research [...]

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Food Matters

Are probiotics helping you?

Probiotic probiotic yoghurt drink, nutritional supplement

Consuming probiotics – also know as “good” bacteria – via supplements or yogurt has been popularized as a way to maintain gut health. While taking a daily dose of probiotics may not be harming you, it also may not be helping. The idea that every probiotic is good for every disease or condition is oversimplified, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

There’s Something in the Air: Trans-planetary Microbes

Here come the microbes! (Credit: China Foto Press/Barcroft Medi)

Cover your mouth when you cough! We’ve all learned the hard way that microbial organisms, from bacteria to viruses, can be transported by air. But the extent to which organisms exist in the Earth’s atmosphere is only now becoming clear. There is good evidence that bacteria (or bacterial spores) can help nucleate water condensation, seeding [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Lake Vostok is (Almost) Breached After 20 Million Years

Satellite composite showing location of Vostok within the Antarctic continent (NASA)

Two and a half miles beneath the surface of Antarctica’s central Eastern ice sheet is a body of water 160 miles by 30 miles across known as Lake Vostok, after the Vostok research station above it, built by the former Soviet Union in 1957 and now operated by Russia. Even by Antarctic standards it’s a [...]

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Observations

Can Microbes Clean Up Our Oily Mess? [Video]

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With an estimated 70 oil spills every day in the U.S. and tons of plastic garbage littering our oceans, humans could really use some help cleaning up. In our latest Instant Egghead video, Scientific American associate editor David Biello explains how bacteria and other microbes lend a hand. More to explore: How Going with the Flow [...]

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Observations

The Race to Catalogue Living Species before They Go Extinct

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The U.S. has spent several billion dollars looking for life on other planets. Shouldn’t we spend at least that much finding and identifying life on Earth? That is the argument behind a taxonomy analysis by a trio of scientists in Science, published on January 25. They argue just $500 million to $1 billion a year [...]

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Observations

Soil May Help Pathogens Make Us Sick

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Tetracycline—a powerful antibiotic—came from the soil. Researchers isolated the drug, used to treat everything from sexually transmitted diseases to bacterial pneumonia, from the soil-dwelling microbe Septomyces aureofaciens, which produces tetracycline to kill its microbe neighbors. So it comes as no surprise that other soil microbes have evolved ways to resist this antibiotic But a new [...]

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Observations

Saturated Fats Change Gut Bacteria–and May Raise Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

saturated fat western diet milk gut microbiome inflammatory bowel disease colitis risk

The relationship between food and a gastro-intestinal disease might sound simple. But new research is revealing that what we put into our bodies can cause a cascade of complex interactions among various systems—from metabolism to the immune system—that keep us well or make us sick. And it appears that a popular component of the classic [...]

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Observations

Mouth’s Many Species Decoded in Living Color

spectral fluorescence image of 15 different species of human oral microbes

Personal oral hygiene notwithstanding, your mouth is sloshing with hundreds of species of microorganisms. Most are harmless, but some can do real damage, such as causing periodontitis, in which the microbes that cause plaque get below the gum line, leading to inflammation and infection. Researchers have had a tough time sorting out all of these [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Octopus Eggs Need Helpful Bacteria To Stay Healthy, Too

We’re just learning how important certain microbes can be to our own health. They can help us digest foods and protect us from harmful invaders. New research suggests that certain bacteria are also crucial for octopuses—especially when they’re just starting out. The findings were published online in Aquaculture Research earlier this month. A team of [...]

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Oscillator

Cheese Cultures

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Cheese is carefully rotted milk, an ancient domestication of microbial activities for human consumption. Humans work in concert with communities of bacteria and fungi to produce the hundreds of different kinds of cheeses, flavored by the metabolic excretions of microbes eating the sugars, proteins, and fats in the milk. The ecologies of cheese provide a [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

When Sleeping Turns Deadly and Other Strange Tales from Scientific American MIND

The July/August issue of Scientific American Mind made its debut online late last week. Here I divulge some of the more surprising and useful lessons from its pages. Dozing Dangerously Sleepwalking is one of the strangest phenomena I have ever witnessed. Despite its name, it doesn’t resemble any other kind of sleep I’ve seen. To [...]

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