Jostled in the airport, someone is coughing in line. The air looks empty but it is loaded with microbes that make their way into your body. You get sick. You give it to your family, and that's pretty much it. But what if you were so contagious that you spread it to your entire community and beyond?
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: Melting Ice Sheets Are Releasing Toxins in Our Water — Bacteria Could Take Some of That Out of Play
Windborne microbes shifting in the snows of the great ice sheet of Greenland may be able to neutralize some of the industrial contaminants oozing out of the melting ice.
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.
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.
News: Bacteria Turned into Factories, Supplying Critical Enzymes to Make Cancer Drugs Cheaper & Save Endangered Yew Trees
Cytochrome P450 (P450s) are proteins found in nearly all living organisms, which play roles that range from producing essential compounds and hormones to metabolizing drugs and toxins. We use some of the compounds synthesized by P450 in plants as medical treatments, but the slow growth and limited supply of these plants have put the drugs' availability in jeopardy and jacked up prices.
The future of forests looks dreary in the face of a warming climate, but scientists are exploring the relationship between soil microbes and the ability of trees to move to higher altitudes, a key component of their survival.
News: Sponge Bacteria Clean Heavy Metals & Toxins Like Arsenic from Water, Saving Turtles & Humans Alike
Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment, but it is also one of the most commonly found heavy metals in wastewater, deposited there by inappropriate disposal and arsenical pesticides, for example.
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.
Add breathing in your house as another possible danger to your health. If your home is sick, it's possible you could get sick too.
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.
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.
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.
News: Say Goodbye to Almonds—Common Pesticide Additive in Orchards Linked to Honey Bee Colony Collapse
The search for the causative agent of colony collapse—the mass die off of honey bees throughout the US and Europe—has escalated with increasing confusion lately. Everything from pesticides and stress to viruses and mites have been implicated, and some researchers think that many of these environmental factors work together to take down hives.
News: Bacteria Turn Off Plant Genes to Help Parasites Destroy Billions of Dollars of Crops Every Year
Before you bite into that beautiful tomato in your garden, the tomato fruitworm, or the Colorado potato beetle, might have beat you to it.
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.
To shine light on the future of the relationship between humans and viruses, a team of researchers from the University of Oxford looked into the dim and distant past.
Termite poop and biofuels — what's the connection? New research into termites' intestinal comings and goings describes a process that may speed the development and lower the cost of fuels made from plant matter.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest living system on the planet. Yet more than 90% of the reef is bleaching because of the loss of a tiny algae that lives within the coral.