Environment

Soil Science: How Microbes Make Compost to Feed the Soil

Are you looking for a little microbe magic? Think composting. Composting is a great way to reuse food and plant waste that you would otherwise throw into the trash, which would just end up in a landfill somewhere. During the composting cycle, microbes reduce this organic waste until it can be fed back into the soil as rich, crumbly compost. When returned to the soil, compost feeds plants and improves the nature of life underground. Sound like a great idea? It is — and it's easy.

News: A Bacteria Could Stop Citrus Greening Disease from Killing Orange Trees

Citrus greening disease — caused by a bacteria spread by psyllid insects — is threatening to wipe out Florida's citrus crop. Researchers have identified a small protein found in a second bacteria living in the insects that helps bacteria causing citrus greening disease survive and spread. They believe the discovery could result in a spray that could potentially help save the trees from the bacterial invasion.

News: How Researchers Could Use Bacteria to Determine Time of Death

When a dead body is discovered, finding out when the person died is just as important as finding out how the person died. Determining the time of death has always involved lots of complicated scientific detective work and less-than-reliable methods. However, a study by Nathan H. Lents, a molecular biologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, is the first of its kind to show how microbes colonize a body's ears and nose after death.

News: Watch Out Amateur Mushroom Hunters — Death Caps Are Nothing to Mess With

There is a reason the Amanita phalloides mushroom is called the "Death Cap." It can kill you. Mushrooms are a type of fungi, an organism that produces thread-like mycelia that often produce spores. Spores allow the fungi to reproduce. Molds, lichens, and yeast are all fungi, but the most visible fungi are mushrooms. Some fungi are delicious, but others can cause disease or, and still others, like Penicillium, can cure it.

News: Like Peaches? Protective Virus Could Save Millions of Dollars in Fruit from Fire Blight

Peach trees and other related plants are susceptible to the devastation caused by fire blight, a contagious bacterial disease. Once contracted, infected trees have to be burned to contain the disease and prevent spread to nearby trees. Increasing resistance to antibiotic treatment has sent scientists in search of alternative ways to deal with the bacteria and prevent its catastrophic damage.

News: Another Reason to Wash Your Sheets—Deadly Hospital Fungus Linked to Moldy Linens

Six people have died from fungal infections in Pittsburgh hospitals since 2014—that fact is indisputable. The rest of the situation is much vaguer. A lawsuit has been filed against the hospitals on behalf of some of the deceased patients, alleging that moldy hospital linens are to blame. While the lawyers argue over who's at fault, let's look at how this could have happened.

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