Bacteria

Genomic study of 412 anthrax strains provides new clues about why some strains are more virulent than others

A photomicrographic view of Bacillus anthracis bacteria taken from heart blood and processed using a carbol-fuchsin stain. (Image Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

By analyzing genomic sequences from more than 400 strains of the bacterium that causes anthrax, researchers have provided the first evidence that the severity — technically known as virulence — of specific strains may be related to the number of copies of certain plasmids they carry. Plasmids are genetic structures of the cell that can reproduce independently, and are responsible for producing the anthrax toxin and other virulence factors.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Global warming, a dead zone and mysterious bacteria

Researchers Liz Robertson from the University of Southern Denmark and Josh Manger from the University of California, San Diego, ready a sample collector off Mexico's Pacific coast. They’re part of a research team that discovered bacteria making oxygen minimum zones in the ocean even deader by sucking up all life-giving nitrogen molecules. (Photo: Heather Olins)

In ocean expanses where oxygen has vanished, newly discovered bacteria are diminishing additional life molecules. They help make virtual dead zones even deader. Now, a team led by the Georgia Institute of Technology has discovered members of a highly prolific bacteria group known as SAR11 living in the world’s largest oxygen minimum zone. The team has produced unambiguous evidence that the bacteria play a major role in denitrification.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bacteria in the pipes: Study identifies the hard-to-detect microbes in hospital shower hoses

Growth of Mycobacterium isolated on a plate of culture medium. (Photo: Stacey Pfaller, EPA)

The human microbiome, a diverse collection of microorganisms living inside us and on our skin, has attracted considerable attention for its role in a broad range of human health issues. Now, researchers are discovering that the built environment also has a microbiome, which includes a community of potentially-pathogenic bacteria living inside water supply pipes. A paper published March 11 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology describes microbial communities found in shower hoses at a major U.S. hospital. The study documented bacteria – and related genes – using cutting-edge metagenomic techniques that allow the characterization of organisms that cannot be detected using traditional culture-based microbiology assays.

Monday, March 14, 2016
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