Most motorists, as they glide their cars carefully around the bloody remains, find highway carcasses repulsive. But a team of microbiologists and chemists from the University of Oklahoma hope that roadkill will prove to be a biomedical gold mine.
UV light is dangerous to humans. That's part of the reason why there's widespread interest in discovering light sources that can kill unwanted organisms – while leaving humans unscathed.
Classifying species is a notoriously sticky problem in biology. As a very broad rule, organisms can be classified as belonging to a distinct species if they can successfully mate with each other to produce offspring that can also successfully mate. But this rule completely falls apart for microbes.
With winter approaching, perhaps you or somebody you know will be unlucky enough to catch a nasty "stomach flu" or "24-hour flu," (which will produce some quality time in the bathroom). Now while you will almost certainly feel better within 24-72 hours, here's the catch: There's no such thing as the stomach or 24-hour flu.
A team of German researchers swabbed 400 bathroom door handles from 136 airports in 59 countries. More than 5 percent produced strains of Staphylococcus aureus, a result that underscores the importance of proactive global epidemiological surveillance. There is no such thing as local outbreak anymore.
Roughly 1 in 3 women douche, but there is no good health reason to do so. Douching can change the makeup of the bacteria that normally live in the vagina, and it can even make women more susceptible to STDs. Now, researchers have added another concern: Douching appears to increase the risk of infection with HPV (human papillomavirus), which causes cervical cancer.
When I was still in school, the rule-of-thumb for the human microbiome was that bacteria outnumbered human cells 10-to-1. Not so, say the authors of a new PLoS Biology paper, who re-crunched the numbers. According to their estimate, the ratio is much closer to 1-to-1.
An emerging infectious disease that has killed several elderly people in the U.S. Midwest is caused by the bacterium Elizabethkingia anophelis. A genomic analysis of strains isolated from hospitalized babies in Africa show that they are related to strains in Asia and from mosquitoes. This ubiquitous environmental bacterium is resistant to multiple antibiotics and appears to survive in hospitals.
A new nanostructured material selectively destroys bacteria, while leaving eukaryotic cells alone. Antibacterial surfaces such as this are needed for medical devices.
Unwanted microorganisms are a fact of life. Bugs grow everywhere we don't want them, from our showers and sinks to our toilets and toothbrushes. The scummy layers they form, called biofilms, are ugly and disgusting but mostly harmless in these settings. However, when they form on medical devices, such as catheters and implants, they can be life-threatening. A clever new material may prevent that.
What happens when we die? This question is both existential and biological. While scientists cannot address the first, they certainly can address the second. What happens to your body after you die is not pretty. Alas, there is no such thing as death with dignity when the microbial Grim Reaper arrives.
There's a silly article in Wednesday's Washington Post which suggests that you're better off eating your hideous airplane meal while sitting on the toilet, rather than in your seat using the tray table. It's not just silly. It's scientifically impossible.