bacteria

Antibacterial surfaces are one way that we are fighting back against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Killing bacteria before they infect our bodies obviously precludes the need for an antibiotic.

In one type of antibacterial surface -- naturally found on dragonfly wings -- tiny pillars physically rip bacteria apart. Other surfaces employ silver nanoparticles. As effective as these surfaces can be, the trouble is that dead microbes build up over time, decreasing their efficacy. Ideally, therefore, antibacterial surfaces should be self-cleaning. A team of researchers in China describes one such surface that they developed.

The scientists began with silicon wafers, onto...

Bacteria come in two very broad categories based on the structure of their cell walls, the outer region that gives the cells shape and integrity. The cell walls of Gram-positive bacteria consist of a membrane surrounded by a thick layer of sugar and protein, while the cell walls of Gram-negative bacteria consist of a membrane surrounded by a second membrane.

This fundamental anatomical difference has a profound medical implication: The types of antibiotics that can kill Gram-positive bacteria are likely ineffective against Gram-negative bacteria and vice versa. A major reason is the cell wall: An antibiotic may be able to penetrate one type but not the other. This is why, for...

I will never be out of a job because literally, every single day, something idiotic is trending either on Google or Twitter. Today, the trending term is "Rubber Duck."

Why? New research shows (gasp!) there are bacteria and fungi on the toy rubber duckies and other plastic toys that your toddler (or spouse) plays with in the bath tub. To create as much terror as possible, the scientists even provocatively titled the paper: "Ugly ducklings—the dark side of plastic materials in contact with potable water."

That's a big red flag. Serious scientists don't write titles for journal papers like that. Instead, a typical headline for a paper like this would be: "A survey of the microbial ecology of...

Given microbes' ubiquitous nature, we expect a certain amount of bacteria to be in our kitchens, on items like raw chicken and filthy dish sponges. But, there are certain places where finding bacteria is a bit more surprising, for example, in the freezer.

However, a new paper challenges that assumption and may make us pause before we add that "clink" to our drink. 

A research group surveyed ice cubes that are made and sold for human consumption, also known as "food grade ice," for the presence of bacteria. In the United States alone, there are 5,600,000 bags of ice sold each year. This ice is used either for direct usage, such as to be placed into drinks, or indirect usage, such as...

Ancient documents decay over time. Understanding the underlying cause of the deterioration is obviously necessary to prevent or reverse it.

Many ancient documents were created on parchment, which is derived from animal skin. Over time, parchments can be covered in purple spots, making the documents unreadable. (See upper left image.) For the past 40 years, scientists have tried to figure out what was responsible for the splotches, but little progress was made. But now, a team of mainly Italian researchers believes it has identified a potential cause.

The authors obtained a nearly 800-year-old, 5-meter-long parchment from the Vatican Secret Archives that details the story of a young soldier who accidentally killed a man and went into a self-imposed exile for 34 years. The...

Unlike animals, bacteria can readily share genetic information with other bacteria, even those of entirely different species. Because of this, one clever microbiologist likened bacteria to smartphones and genes to apps. When bacteria share "apps" that encode antibiotic resistance, it poses trouble for humanity.

As individual bacterial strains are exposed to antibiotics, natural selection favors the survival of those that have mutated to become resistant. That hard-earned resistance can then be given to other bacteria. Microbiologists have long known of three major mechanisms by which this occurs: Transformation, transduction, and conjugation.

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The next time you reach for your handy kitchen sponge to mop up a spill on the countertop, remember the message in a recent article in Science Reports entitled "Microbiome analysis and confocal microscopy of used kitchen sponges reveal massive colonization by Acinetobacter, Moraxella and Chryseobacterium species," and perhaps reconsider your move. That's because what this report tells us is that used kitchen sponges are typically chock full of bacteria — some of which can cause disease.

To be honest, this isn’t really new news — we’ve known for quite a while that sponges can harbor microbiological threats. That said, we certainly don’t mean to scare you from using your sponge, or imply that you are likely to get...

When a patient enters a hospital or doctor's office with a cough, difficulty breathing, and chest discomfort/pain - physicians may be able to easily diagnose a lung infection. But, what is causing the infection is a different story. In fact, a physician may not be able to know - so, he or she is left to make their best guess. In this case, an antibiotic will most likely be prescribed (which is only effective against bacteria) regardless of what the cause of the infection really is.

That may not seem like a bad idea, but, prescribing an antibiotic for a viral infection is not only unnecessary - the over-prescription of antibiotics is one of the leading causes of antibiotic resistance....

Okay, most people don't want the words feces and food uttered in the same sentence. So, with just-released reports from a BBC investigation revealing that ice from three of the largest coffee companies in the United Kingdom was contaminated with fecal matter (aka stool), expect a little panic to ensue.

BBC's Watchdog group identified a diversity of bacteria concentrations in iced beverages from Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero. Tables, trays and high chairs were also sampled at 30 branches. The story further claims the companies are initiating their own investigations and updating ice-handling guidelines. 

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The sequence of an organism's genome, a staple in today's world of scientific experimentation, is as essential to scientific research as beakers. So, publishing over one thousand new bacterial genomes is like 'making it rain' to the microbiology research community. 

An article entitled "1,003 reference genomes of bacterial and archaeal isolates expand coverage of the tree of life" was published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology by an international research team led by the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute. This release effectively doubles the number of currently available bacterial and archaeal genomes available to researchers currently. 

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