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  • News

    New 3-D printed materials harness the power of bacteria

    A new type of 3-D printing ink has a special ingredient: live bacteria.

    Materials made with this “living ink” could help clean up environmental pollution, harvest energy via photosynthesis or help make medical supplies, researchers report online December 1 in Science Advances.

    This study “shows for the first time that 3-D printed bacteria can make useful materials,” says Anne Meyer...

    12/01/2017 - 14:22 Materials, Microbes, Technology
  • News in Brief

    In the deep ocean, these bacteria play a key role in trapping carbon

    A mysterious group of microbes may be controlling the fate of carbon in the dark depths of the world’s oceans.

    Nitrospinae bacteria, which use the nitrogen compound nitrite to “fix” inorganic carbon dioxide into sugars and other compounds for food and reproduction, are responsible for 15 to 45 percent of such carbon fixation in the western North Atlantic Ocean, researchers report in the...

    11/28/2017 - 11:00 Oceans, Climate, Microbes
  • For Daily Use

    Step away from the cookie dough. E. coli outbreaks traced to raw flour

    Eggs, long condemned for making raw cookie dough a forbidden pleasure, can stop taking all the blame. There’s another reason to resist the sweet uncooked temptation: flour.

    The seemingly innocuous pantry staple can harbor strains of E. coli bacteria that make people sick. And, while not a particularly common source of foodborne illness, flour has been implicated in two E. coli outbreaks...

    11/22/2017 - 17:00 Health, Microbes
  • Feature

    Lena Pernas sees parasitic infection as a kind of Hunger Games

    Lena Pernas, 30ParasitologistUniversity of Padova

    Lena Pernas’ love of parasites began in childhood, when she was plagued with many virtual infections. One of her favorite pastimes as a 9-year-old was playing The Amazon Trail, an educational computer game set near the South American river. One of the dangers players could encounter was malaria, “and I got malaria a lot,” Pernas says. This...

    10/04/2017 - 13:47 Microbiology, Microbes
  • News

    Now we know how much glacial melting ‘watermelon snow’ can cause

    Microbes are pushing glacial snow into the red.

    An alga species that grows on glaciers gives the snow a crimson hue, which increases the amount of sunlight that the snow soaks up and makes it melt faster, new measurements confirm. On Alaska’s Harding Icefield, these microbes are responsible for about a sixth of the snowmelt in algae-tinged areas, researchers report September 18 in Nature...

    09/18/2017 - 17:03 Microbes, Climate
  • News

    The Zika epidemic began long before anyone noticed

    The Zika virus probably arrived in the Western Hemisphere from somewhere in the Pacific more than a year before it was detected, a new genetic analysis of the epidemic shows. Researchers also found that as Zika fanned outward from Brazil, it entered neighboring countries and South Florida multiple times without being noticed.

    Although Zika quietly took root in northeastern Brazil in late...

    05/24/2017 - 13:00 Genetics, Microbes
  • News

    Ocean acidification may hamper food web’s nitrogen-fixing heroes

    A hard look at experimental setups may start to explain dueling predictions on whether ocean acidification will boost, or choke, vital marine nitrogen fixers. So far, the new look trends toward choking.

    As people release more and more carbon dioxide into the air, the ocean takes up the gas and edges closer toward acidity. In these shifting waters, marine microbes called Trichodesmium...

    04/28/2017 - 13:00 Climate, Microbes
  • Origin of photosynthesis may go further back than estimates from 50 years ago

    Evidence of Precambrian life

    From deep in the gold mines of South Africa’s Orange Free State has come evidence that there was some form of biologic activity on Earth at least 2.15 billion years ago. Polymerized hydrocarbon “chemo-fossils” found in the gold ores … [probably] were originally part of a rich bacterial and algal life in the Witwatersrand basin. Since the rock layers from...

    03/02/2017 - 12:00 Evolution, Microbes
  • News

    Oldest microfossils suggest life thrived on Earth about 4 billion years ago

    Tiny, iron-rich fossils exhumed from the depths of an ancient ocean could reveal the cradle of life.

    These micrometer-scale structures are probably remnants of microorganisms that once lived amidst ancient hydrothermal vents, researchers suggest March 1 in Nature.

    “In a nutshell, what we’ve found are the oldest microfossils on Earth,” says study coauthor Matthew Dodd, a...

    03/01/2017 - 13:00 Paleontology, Microbes
  • News

    Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years

    BOSTON — Microbes found stowed inside giant crystals in caves in Chihuahua, Mexico, may have survived there for tens of thousands of years. The microorganisms, which appear to be vastly different from nearly all life-forms found on Earth, offer a good indication of how resilient life can be in extremely harsh environments, including those found on other planets.

    “These organisms are so...

    02/18/2017 - 12:55 Microbes, Genetics, Astrobiology