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.
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.
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.
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).
Seagrass may help your favorite beach stay a little less toxic. A new study, led by Joleah Lamb, a postdoctoral researcher in the Harvell Lab at Cornell University, found that coastal seagrasses reduce levels of pathogens dangerous to humans and marine organisms in near-shore waters.
Earlier this year, NASA reported on findings that might point to water, and microbial life, on moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn. Named Europa and Enceladus, those moons contain large oceans under their icy surfaces, which many speculate could hold microbial life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A disease called "citrus greening" has devastated and permanently altered citrus production in the United States, but a vaccine that could protect orange trees may be part of a winning strategy to beat the bacteria that is killing the trees.
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.
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.
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.
While it is easy to create and maintain your compost pile, you can enjoy it more knowing a few basic tips.