Dental plaque preserved in fossilized teeth confirms that Neandertals were flexible eaters and may have self-medicated with an ancient equivalent of aspirin.
DNA recovered from calcified plaque on teeth from four Neandertal individuals suggest that those from the grasslands around Beligum’s Spy cave ate woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep, while their counterparts from the forested El...
News in Brief
WASHINGTON — A nasty stomach virus that can linger on fruits and veggies may have met its match in cold plasma.
In experiments, the ionized gas, created by filtering room-temperature air through an electric field, virtually eliminated norovirus from lettuce, researchers reported February 7 at the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats meeting.
Norovirus is the leading cause...
News in Brief
WASHINGTON — Scientists usually worry that animal diseases could spill over into humans. But “spillback” of Zika virus into monkeys in South America could be just as dangerous.
In areas where Zika infections are prevalent among humans and mosquitoes are abundant, the virus may be transmitted to wild primates, disease ecologist Barbara Han said February 6 at the American Society for...
Before an immature Zika virus becomes infectious, it does some major remodeling.
In a fledgling virus particle, the inner protein and RNA core (shown in dark blue above, right) forms bridges to the membrane layer that surrounds it. As the virus matures, the core shuffles around and the bridges melt away (below, right).
It’s the first time scientists have seen such rearrangement in...
Salmonella bacteria don’t want your body to starve on their account. The microbes’ motives, though, are (probably) purely poop-related.
The body sometimes sacrifices appetite to fight off infection: Less energy for the host also means less energy for the pathogen. Understanding how bacteria cope with this tactic can inform treatments.
When it reaches the gut, Salmonella enterica ...
Immune cells in a malaria-transmitting mosquito sense the invading parasites and deploy an army of tiny messengers in response. These couriers help turn on a mosquito’s defenses, killing off the parasites, a new study suggests.
This more detailed understanding of the mosquito immune system, published January 20 in Science Immunology, might help scientists design new ways to combat...
One of biology’s biggest achievements of 2016 was intentionally as small as possible: building a bacterium with only 473 genes. That pint-size genetic blueprint, the smallest for any known free-living cell, is a milestone in a decades-long effort to create an organism containing just the bare essentials necessary to exist and reproduce. Such “minimal genome” cells might eventually serve as...
It was barely more than half a century ago that the Nobel Prize–winning virologist Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet mused about the demise of contagions. “To write about infectious disease,” he wrote in 1962, “is almost to write of something that has passed into history.”
If only. In the past several decades, over 300 infectious pathogens have either newly emerged or emerged in new places,...
SAN FRANCISCO — Cell biologists are learning more about how the Zika virus disrupts brain cells to cause the birth defect microcephaly, in which a baby’s brain and head are smaller than usual. Meantime, several strategies to combat the virus show preliminary promise, researchers reported at the American Society for Cell Biology’s annual meeting. Among the findings:Brain cell die-off
For clues to Parkinson’s brain symptoms, a gut check is in order.
Intestinal microbes send signals that set off the disease’s characteristic brain inflammation and motor problems in mice, researchers report December 1 in Cell. Doctors might someday be able to treat Parkinson’s by fixing this bacterial imbalance.
“It’s quite an exciting piece of work,” says John Cryan, a...