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Posts Tagged "Microbiome"

Food Matters

The Microbes in Your Kitchen (Or in your Starbucks mocha)

Graph of microbial diversity in 3 different diets

I can’t write an intro better than this: Far more attention has been paid to the microbes in our feces than the microbes in our food. Research efforts dedicated to the microbes that we eat have historically been focused on a fairly narrow range of species, namely those which cause disease and those which are [...]

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Food Matters

Resistance from the Rear – Hospital Effluent and the Growing Antibiotic Crisis

Not the actual sewer pipe in this story. Click for source.

If you ever worry that you’re a bit too optimistic about the future, try reading Maryn McKenna’s posts about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. The primary tools we’ve had to combat microbial disease for the past century are failing, and it’s largely our own fault. Antibiotic resistance genes (or ARGs) are spreading fast, and [...]

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Food Matters

Investigating the Cheese Microbiome

The rind of Baley Hazen Blue cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in VT

Last week was a monumental one for me – I said goodbye to my old lab, where I’ve worked for the past 5 years. It was harder than I thought it would be to leave. Grad school was rough at times, but it was an overwhelmingly positive and rewarding experience, due in no small part [...]

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Food Matters

Our Microbial Organ – The Good and Bad Bugs of the Human Gut

340px-Digestive_system_diagram_edit.svg

Ever since coming to Harvard, I’ve been involved with a graduate student group called “Science in the News.” At SITN, the goal is to bring the fascination with scientists that graduate students have to a wider audience, and the flagship effort of the group is a series of lectures held every Autumn and Spring that [...]

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Food Matters

Eating Dirt: The Benefits of Being (Relatively) Filthy

You are what you touch

Two of the most monumental developments in the history of human civilization, likely the innovations that have saved more human lives than any other, are soap and sanitation. When large numbers of people congregate in a single location for prolonged periods of time, excrement and waste quickly rise to unimaginable levels and are capable of [...]

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Food Matters

What’s eating us?

From wikipedia (click for source)

As #SciAmFood week draws to a close, we’ve heard a lot about the food we consume, from not getting enough to astronaut nutrition (and getting too much) to tricking your brain about what it’s getting. But what about the things in our food that consume us? We humans do not live a sterile life, no [...]

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Food Matters

Introducing: The Food Matters Crew

Credit: Kathleen Raven

Do you ever wonder about the science behind your food? We do, too. Our group of writers serves up juicy topics like genetic engineering, gut bacteria and the chemical reactions that occur during cooking. Together, we’ll peer inside factory farms, dark jungles, cafeterias, laboratories and those trendy molecular gastronomy spots. Grab a bite, and sit [...]

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Guest Blog

Artificial Sweeteners May Have Despicable Impacts on Gut Microbes

Sweet'N Low is a brand of artificial sweetener made primarily from granulated saccharin. (Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

I find it ironic that Thanksgiving coincides with American Diabetes Month. In honor of that irony, two recently published studies have suggested a possible link between what you eat, how it impacts the behavior of the microbes living in your gut, and type II diabetes. To further explain, allow me use the most adorable analogy [...]

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Guest Blog

When Scientists Experiment on Themselves: H. pylori and Ulcers

In the summer of 1984, the Australian scientist Neil Noakes took some bacteria from a petri dish, mixed them with lukewarm beef extract – the normal nutrient solution for bacteria in the lab – and filled a little more than one cup into a beaker. Then he handed this mix to his colleague, the gastroenterologist [...]

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Life, Unbounded

This Is What We Don’t Know About The Universe

dont panic.001

In recent days I’ve had some interesting conversations. There’s a giddiness going around, related to an outpouring of science love – the kind you get from President Obama introducing TV science shows, the kind that has wonderful visuals, but is, well, a wee bit simplistic (a sin that none of us could ever, ever be [...]

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Observations

Hey FDA, Poop Is Not a Drug

fecal transplant

Imagine if in the 1960s surgeons like Christiaan Barnard or Norman Shumway had had to use the same rules that govern the development and testing of pharmaceutical medications when they were teaching the rest of the world how to transplant hearts from the recently deceased into their patients. The idea is absurd on the face [...]

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Observations

New View into Our Guts Reveals Microbiome’s Murky Links to Health

human microbiome gut health

What is living in your gut? It might depend less on your diet, exercise habits, weight and sex than you think, according to new findings. Our health is tied to trillions of organisms that live in and on us. But the extent of their impact has only recently come into focus. And scientists are just [...]

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Observations

Googling E.T., Mind Reading and Other Crazy Ideas That Just Might Work

A talent search preceding this year’s TED conference turned up enough startlingly smart prodigies to lend an American Idol feel to the event. There was the 15-year-old who invented a better test for pancreatic cancer, the 18-year-old who presented his second nuclear reactor design, and the 13-year-old  who strung flickering light-emitting diodes around his family’s [...]

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Observations

Skin Bacteria Are Your Friends

skin bacteria immune infection

Americans have been on an antibacterial kick for the past several years. Our hand soap, dish soap, and body wash have morphed into an arsenal of bug-killing napalm, eliminating all but the heartiest of bacteria. And there are, indeed, some scary microbes crawling around out there—Staph and C. Diff, just to name a couple. But [...]

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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

Men’s Offices Harbor More Bacteria Than Women’s

office bacteria dirtier men new york

What is the dirtiest thing on your desk? If you work in a typical office, it’s not actually your computer mouse or your keyboard or even your desk. According to a new study, published online May 30 in PLoS ONE, it’s your phone—but your chair’s not far behind. Before you drop that receiver or leap [...]

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Observations

Microbes Annihilate the “Nature versus Nurture” Debate

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diverse_e_Coli.png

The latest research into the genetics of the human microbiome is taking to a whole new level the old (and not always fruitful) argument about whether nature or nurture is a more important influence in our lives. In the past few days, Science Express published a paper that demonstrated that friendly (or commensal) bacteria don’t [...]

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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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Observations

What’s in your gut? Microbiota categories might help simplify personalized medicine

bacteria in your gut

The diverse wilderness of life inside of our bodies is just starting to gain the attention of scientists. The human gut alone typically holds some 100,000 billion bitty bacteria, and with no two people’s microbiomes being the same, classifying these crucial organisms has been challenging. A new study, published online April 20 in Nature, proposes [...]

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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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Symbiartic

Good Microbes Make Good Pets

13-050BenArthurAnimation

THIS is good scicomm. Why? Well, for many reasons – good writing, good sound, good editing – but by far the most apparent, the reason most people will sit up and take note is because of the strong visuals. This is illustrator Benjamin Arthur’s third collaboration with NPR on science animations and it shows what [...]

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Symbiartic

What’s Worse Than Fecal Transplants? This Gal.

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Have you caught wind of the latest in medical technology: fecal transplants between friends? The latest commentary (and funniest to date) is a piece by Steve Mirsky in the August 2013 edition of Scientific American telling us to just get over the ick factor “because everything” in life, medicine, and yes, fecal transplants, “is disgusting.” [...]

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Symbiartic

One Man’s Poo is Another Man’s PhD

Scientists collect crazy things. I’m not talking thimble-crazy or frog-themed-crazy. That kind of tchotchke barely ranks on the crazy scale. The collections I’m talking about are things like bellybutton lint, whale vomit, and human poo. You mean raw sewage?! Yes, sort of… but straight from the source. Fresh, unadulterated. Yup. And to supersize the irony, [...]

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Symbiartic

Marketing Campaign Drags Science Through the Streets for the Jeering Masses…

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Next time you see a scientist in the street, grab him or her and ask who they view as the enemy. Quite likely they’ll give you a weird look, and perhaps they’ll run away, but if they don’t, I’d bet they’d say journalists. Many scientists I know brace themselves for speaking with journalists about their [...]

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Talking back

Brie and Milbenkäse Are the New “Lab Rats” for Microbiologists

Trillions of microbes, a galaxy’s worth of prokaryotes, inhabit the human GI tract. Figuring out what the microbiome does, as this Brobdingnagian collection of critters is known, remains a grand challenge of biology. As always, scientists try to make a difficult problem tractable by conducting studies in a simpler version of the organism or environment they [...]

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