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Category: Microbiology

Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) are part of an international team led by the University of Bonn, Germany, who have found a link between the origin of hepatitis A virus (HAV) and small mammals. With the emergence of Ebola virus from bats and hantaviruses from rodents, investigators say identifying the other species infected with HAV provides novel insight into the evolution of HAV and how it spread to humans, and highlights the utility of analyzing animal reservoirs for risk assessment of emerging viruses.

MicrobiologyOctober 30, 2015 07:15 PM

At the University of Cologne, biophysicists in the lab of Professor Berenike Maier were now able to show how differential mechanical forces can lead to cell sorting in biofilms, thereby determining their architecture. In their publication in the journal eLife, the team headed by the biophysicist Enno Oldewurtel showed how specific mechanical forces can be the key to the structure of a biofilm. Bacteria with different surface structures organized themselves in a "tug of war": the cells actively moved in the direction in which they could pull the strongest onto neighboring bacteria.

A consortium of 48 scientists from 50 institutions in the United States - including Pamela Silver, Ph.D., a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University - are calling for a Unified Microbiome Initiative that would span national cross-institutional and cross-governmental agency support. The group, called the Unified Microbiome Initiative Consortium (UMIC), envisions that a coordinated effort would drive forward cutting edge microbiome research, enabling breakthrough advances across medicine, ecosystem management, sustainable energy and production of commodities. Their proposal was published online in the journal Science on October 28.

This is the helminth Heligmosomoides polygyrus bakeri (Hpb), which infects rodents. Here seen under fluorescent staining. Hpb was used in the mouse part of this study.
EPFL researchers have discovered how intestinal worm infections cross-talk with gut bacteria to help the immune system.

Brian Mahon and Avni Bhatt, graduate research assistants in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, inspect a bacterium that is used to produce carbonic anhydrase.
A type of bacteria plucked from the bottom of the ocean could be put to work neutralizing large amounts of industrial carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, a group of University of Florida researchers has found.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease currently endemic in more than 10 countries. According to the World Health Organization, 390 million people are infected by dengue every year.

This is Associate Professor Solomon in the wheat biosecurity lab at the Research School of Biology.
Researchers have unraveled the mystery cause of the emerging wheat disease White Grain Disorder.

Seal liver infected with novel hepatitis A-like virus was dubbed phopivirus.
Scientists in the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health have discovered a new virus in seals that is the closest known relative of the human hepatitis A virus. The finding provides new clues on the emergence of hepatitis A. The research appears in the July/August issue of mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Advances in the field of statistics are helping to unlock the mysteries of the human microbiome--the vast collection of microorganisms living in and on the bodies of humans, said Katherine Pollard, a statistician and biome expert, during a session today at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM 2015) in Seattle.

Lassa fever is endemic to West Africa.
An international team of researchers has developed the largest genomic data set in the world on Lassa virus (LASV). The new genomic catalog contains nearly 200 viral genomes collected from patient samples in Sierra Leone and Nigeria, as well as field samples from the major animal reservoir, or host, of Lassa virus--the rodent Mastomys natalensis, also called the multimammate rat. The researchers show that LASV strains cluster into four major groups based on geographic location, with three in Nigeria and one in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Although Lassa fever was first described in modern-day Nigeria in 1969, the current study also suggests that these four LASV strains originated from a common ancestral virus more than 1,000 years ago and spread across West Africa within the last several hundred years.

Are the same regions and even the same cells of the brain area called hippocampus involved in encoding and retrieving memories or are different areas of this structure engaged? This question has kept neuroscientists busy for a long time. Researchers at the Mercator Research Group "Structure of Memory" at RUB have now found out that the same brain cells exhibit activity in both processes. They have published their results in the journal "Hippocampus".

For decades, researchers have worked to improve cacao fermentation by controlling the microbes involved. Now, to their surprise, a team of Belgian researchers has discovered that the same species of yeast used in production of beer, bread, and wine works particularly well in chocolate fermentation. The research was published ahead of print July 6th in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

This is a map of fecal viruses across the globe. Red shades indicate severe concentrations of the deadly rotavirus (based on data from approximately year 2010).
Humans aren't the only ones who like to cruise along the waterways, so do viruses. For the first time, a map of fecal viruses traveling our global waterways has been created using modeling methods to aid in assessing water quality worldwide.

Researchers have identified two critical mutations allowing the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus to transmit from bats to humans. The findings were published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Virology.

From a single drop of blood, researchers can now simultaneously test for more than 1,000 different strains of viruses that currently or have previously infected a person. Using a new method known as VirScan, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School tested for evidence of past viral infections, detecting on average 10 viral species per person. The new work sheds light on the interplay between a person's immunity and the human virome -- the vast array of viruses that can infect humans - with implications both for the clinic and for the field of immunology. The team reports its findings in Science on June 5.

At its annual assembly in Geneva last week, the World Health Organization approved a radical and far-reaching plan to slow the rapid, extensive spread of antibiotic resistance around the world. The plan hopes to curb the rise caused by an unchecked use of antibiotics and lack of new antibiotics on the market.

Ferak is a fantasy figure, a plant/animal hybrid creature. The genome of the virus has similarities to bunyaviruses from both plants and animals.
Researchers at the University of Bonn and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) have discovered two new groups of viruses within the Bunyavirus family in the tropical forest of Ivory Coast. Previously only five groups responsible for serious illnesses in humans and animals were known. Most are spread through blood-feeding insects. Based on the discovered viruses researchers conclude that the ancester to all bunyaviruses must have existed in arthropods such as insects. The results are now being published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS).

The effort to identify new ways of fighting infections has taken a step forward now that scientists have identified a key protein involved in the host's response to strep infections. This protein, called "NFAT," appears to play a key role in the body's inflammatory response to an infection, which when uncontrolled, can be as bad, if not worse, than the infection itself. Furthermore, this discovery was made using streptococcal bacteria, which are responsible for a wide range of human illnesses, ranging from sore throat and pink eye to meningitis and bacterial pneumonia. This discovery was published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology

Pennate (elongated) diatoms found in an ice core from the Quelccaya Summit Dome Glacier were among many samples identified by scientists.
The remains of tiny creatures found deep inside a mountaintop glacier in Peru are clues to the local landscape more than a millennium ago, according to a new study by Rice University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ohio State University.

Phages infect bacteria and are able to transfer genes during this process.
Bacteria resistant to antibiotics are on the rise. There are different explanations for how resistances are transferred. Researchers from the Vetmeduni Vienna found phages in chicken meat that are able to transfer antimicrobial resistance to bacteria. Phages are viruses that exclusively infect bacteria. They can contribute to the spread of antimicrobial resistance. The findings may also be relevant for clinical settings. The study was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

It's no wonder that giant pandas are always chewing and eating, say Chinese researchers: their gut bacteria are not the type for efficiently digesting bamboo.

A seven-year scientific study has revealed that microbial communities in urban waterways has the potential to play an important role in cleansing Singapore's waterways and also act as raw water quality indicators.

A multidisciplinary group of US-based researchers has shown that the mixture of species found within natural bacterial communities in the environment can accurately predict the presence of contaminants such as uranium, nitrate, and oil. The findings, published this week in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, show that the rapid sequencing of microbiomes in place at environmental sites can be used to monitor damage caused by human activity.

Researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the Broad Institute have identified a protein on the surface of human red blood cells that serves as an essential entry point for invasion by the malaria parasite. The presence of this protein, called CD55, was found to be critical to the Plasmodium falciparum parasite's ability to attach itself to the red blood cell surface during invasion. This discovery opens up a promising new avenue for the development of therapies to treat and prevent malaria.

Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich demonstrate for the first time that bacteriophages (bacterial viruses) carry genetic instructions for proteins that mediate the transport of their DNA to specialized replication sites in the host cell.

The oceans and other water bodies contain billions of tons of dissolved uranium. Over the planet's history, some of this uranium was transformed into an insoluble form, causing it to precipitate and accumulate in sediments. There are two ways that uranium can go from a soluble to an insoluble form: either through the action of live organisms - bacteria - or by interacting chemically with certain minerals. Knowing which pathway was taken can provide valuable insight into the evolution and activity of microbial biology over Earth's history. Publishing in the journal PNAS, an international team of researchers led by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland describes a new method that uses the isotopic composition of uranium to distinguish between these alternative pathways.

A University of Colorado Boulder and North Carolina State University-led team has produced the first atlas of airborne microbes across the continental U.S., a feat that has implications for better understanding health and disease in humans, animals and crops.

April 17, 2015 - A multicenter team of U.S. and Venezuelan scientists, led by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center, have discovered the most diverse collection of bodily bacteria yet in humans among an isolated tribe of Yanomami Indians in the remote Amazonian jungles of southern Venezuela.

One of the immune system's most critical challenges is to differentiate between itself and foreign invaders -- and the number of recognized autoimmune diseases, in which the body attacks itself, is on the rise. But humans are not the only organisms contending with "friendly fire."

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