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  • News

    The right mix of gut microbes relieves autism symptoms in the long run

    MADISON, Wis. — Giving children with autism a healthier mix of gut bacteria as a way to improve behavioral symptoms continued to work even two years after treatment ended.

    The finding may solidify the connection between tummy troubles and autism, and provide more evidence that the gut microbiome — the collection of bacteria and other microbes that live in the intestines — can influence...

    07/12/2018 - 13:00 Microbiology, Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Bobtail squid coat their eggs in antifungal goo

    MADISON, Wis. — When eggs go bad, bacteria usually get the blame. But some bacteria help bobtail squid keep their eggs fresh.

    Bacteria that female Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) deposit in the jelly surrounding their eggs can fight off a fungus called Fusarium keratoplasticum, Spencer Nyholm reported July 9 at the Beneficial Microbes Conference.

    A specialized organ...

    07/10/2018 - 17:32 Microbiology, Animals
  • Mystery Solved

    Finally, there’s a way to keep syphilis growing in the lab

    For more than a century, scientists have tried to grow Treponema pallidum, the corkscrew-shaped bacterium that causes syphilis. But the stubborn spirochete has refused to thrive any place outside of a human or rabbit for more than 18 days. That doesn’t give researchers much time to study it.

    “I’ve basically spent my entire career watching these organisms die,” says microbiologist Steven...

    07/02/2018 - 07:00 Health, Microbiology, Microbes
  • News

    Leprosy lurks in armadillos in Brazil’s Amazon

    Brazilians who hunt or eat armadillos are at a higher risk of catching leprosy than people who don’t interact with the animals, a new study finds.

    More than 60 percent of armadillos tested in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Pará carry the leprosy bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. And about 63 percent of people tested in two villages in the region have antibodies against the bacterium,...

    06/28/2018 - 14:00 Microbiology, Animals, Health
  • News in Brief

    Zika gets the most extreme close-up of any flavivirus

    Researchers have gotten the closest look ever at Zika virus and may have discovered some chinks in its armor.

    Using cryo-electron microscopy, structural biologist Madhumati Sevvana and colleagues mapped Zika’s structure at 3.1-angstrom (or 0.31-nanometer) resolution. That closeup view, reported online June 26 in Structure, is about equivalent to the size of two atoms. It’s the most...

    06/26/2018 - 11:00 Microbiology
  • News

    Dogs carry a surprising variety of flu viruses

    Some dogs in China carry a mixed bag of influenza viruses. The discovery raises the possibility that dogs may be able to pass the flu to people, perhaps setting off a pandemic.

    About 15 percent of pet dogs that went to the vet because of respiratory infections carried flu viruses often found in pigs, researchers report June 5 in mBio. Of the virus strains detected, three have recombined...

    06/05/2018 - 14:37 Microbiology, Animals, Health
  • News

    Your blood type might make you more likely to get traveler’s diarrhea

    E. coli has a type and it isn’t pretty. The bacterium is more likely to cause severe diarrhea in people with type A blood.

    An illness-causing strain of E. coli secretes a protein that gloms onto the sugar molecules that decorate type A blood cells, but not type B or O cells. These sugar molecules also decorate cells lining the intestines of people with type A blood and appear to provide...

    05/17/2018 - 12:00 Microbiology, Health, Cells
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers amazed by Jupiter discoveries, giant viruses and more

    Jazzed by Jupiter

    Polar cyclones, a surprisingly deep atmosphere and a spin reminiscent of solid masses are among the latest discoveries the Juno spacecraft has made as it orbits Jupiter, Christopher Crockett reported in “4 surprising things we just learned about Jupiter” (SN: 3/31/18, p. 10).

    The findings astonished readers on Reddit.

    “Jupiter is one of those things [that]...

    05/16/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Planetary Science, Microbiology
  • News

    ‘Nanobot’ viruses tag and round up bacteria in food and water

    NEW ORLEANS — Viruses engineered into “nanobots” can find and separate bacteria from food or water.

    These viruses, called bacteriophages or just phages, naturally latch onto bacteria to infect them (SN: 7/12/03, p. 26). By tweaking the phages’ DNA and decking them out with magnetic nanoparticles, researchers created a tool that could both corral bacteria and force them to reveal...

    03/27/2018 - 11:36 Microbiology, Chemistry, Health
  • Science Visualized

    Meet the giants among viruses

    For decades, the name “virus” meant small and simple. Not anymore. Meet the giants.

    Today, scientists are finding ever bigger viruses that pack impressive amounts of genetic material. The era of the giant virus began in 2003 with the discovery of the first Mimivirus (SN: 5/23/09, p. 9). The viral titan is about 750 nanometers across with a genetic pantry boasting around 1.2 million base...

    03/21/2018 - 07:00 Microbiology