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.
Some bacteria can already do it—generate electric current, that is—and those microbes are called "electrogenic." Now, thanks to the work of a research group from the University of California, Santa Barbara, we know how to easily turn non-electrogenic bacteria into electricity producers.
Look no further than Flint, Michigan, to discover the serious consequences of contaminated drinking water. Around the world, water polluted by pathogens and toxins sickens people or cuts them off from safe drinking water. Looking for a solution, researchers created tiny, swimming robots that pack a powerful punch against waterborne pathogens.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began on April 20, 2010, was the largest maritime oil spill in history. Killing 11 people and discharging 4.1 million barrels of oil and natural gas into the Gulf of Mexico, the event was an unparalleled personal, environmental, and business disaster. It was also the first major oil spill to take place in the deep ocean.
While it is easy to create and maintain your compost pile, you can enjoy it more knowing a few basic tips.
When it comes to global warming, most of us think of carbon dioxide emissions. While carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide emissions have stayed constant for the last three years. On the other hand, methane, the second most important gas, has been steadily rising since 2007.
Being a city dweller does not mean you cannot save the planet — or your food scraps. Climate change and resource management are big issues. Composting in any size space is not only possible, but it gives you a chance to reduce greenhouse gasses and reuse food scraps. Right now, about 40% of all food in the US goes to the landfill. In addition to planning meals and using your food in creative ways to reduce the amount that goes to waste, you can compost.
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: Coffee Isn't the Only Thing Brewing in Your Nespresso—Extremophiles Could Be Living in Your Drip Tray
You just sat down, coffee in hand, and the day is ready to start. Now that you have taken a few sips, let me pose a question: What is living in that coffeemaker of yours? The answer might make you dump that coffee down the drain pronto.
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: Microbes Are Everywhere—But Those on Your Cell Phone Can Be Dangerous, Especially During Cold & Flu Season
It won't come as a surprise to hear that your cell phone, tablet, and laptop are loaded with bacteria and other organic material. While most of these bacteria are harmless, there are good reasons to reduce the capability of your mobile devices to infect you—or other people.
Think of the coolest, most unique way to create art that you can. Got it? Now think about creating that art out of living things.
Blowing dust and fungal spores are creating a public health problem that could be just a slice of what's to come with climate change.
The beauty of southern Europe won't protect it from invasions of disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes—in fact, the Mediterranean climate and landscape may be part of the reason the bloodsuckers are expanding there, bringing unique and terrifying diseases in their wake.
Devastating and deadly, land mines are a persistent threat in many areas of the world. Funding to clear regions of land mines has been decreasing, but new research may offer a less dangerous method of locating hidden, underground explosives by using glowing bacteria.
Wherever there are people, the party is sure to follow. Well, a party of microbes, at least. That is what scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have found after a 30-day microbial observation of the inflatable lunar/Mars analog habitat (IMAH).
One thousand feet under the ground, extremophile microbes that have not seen the light of day for four million years are giving up some fascinating facts to scientists who go the distance.
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.
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.
That soil under your feet is not just dirt. It is teeming with life that may not change as fast as we would like when challenged by global warming.