Tardigrades reproduce sexually and females lay eggs. She’ll actually shed her skin first and then lay her eggs inside of it. The babies then hatch from their eggs and then have to crawl out of the skin husk. Fun fact: tardigrades are born with the same number of cells as their adult counterparts - their cells just get bigger as they age.
This week the University of Surrey in England released images of the types of bacteria that live on cell phones.
Scientist at the university put their phones in petri dishes containing agar—a gelatinous substance, obtained from algae that is supplemented with nutrients—to document the bacteria’s growth over three days. Though the images look gross most of the bacteria are harmless, and the final photos give a close-up view of the microscopic world with which we all intimately interact on a daily basis.
The most troublesome bacterium found was staphylococcus aureus that can cause skin rash, respiratory disease and food poisoning. The boffins at Surrey thought the staphylococcus aureus contamination had been caused by someone picking their nose.
Dr. Simon Park, senior lecturer in molecular biology told the Daily Mirror:
“From these results, it seems that the mobile phone doesn’t just remember telephone numbers, but also harbours a history of our personal and physical contacts such as other people, soil and other matter,” he said.
“[The experiment] was a way of showing [our students] directly and quite strikingly how contaminated their phones could be.”
The best advice to stopping this kind on bacteria thriving on your smart or cell phone is simply to clean it every week with some disinfectant. [Daily Mirror]
Who knew bacteria could be so mesmerizing? Rogan Brown, for one. The artist, based in southern France, has created a stunning paper sculpture that resembles a gigantic bacterium. Based loosely on E. coli and Salmonella, the giant germ sports hair-like structures called “pili” and tentacle-like appendages. It took four months to build.
The first new antibiotic to be discovered in nearly 30 years has been hailed as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the fight against the growing resistance to drugs.
Teixobactin has been found to treat many common bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, septicaemia and C. diff, and could be available within five years.
But more importantly it could pave the way for a new generation of antibiotics because of the way it was discovered.
Scientists have always believed that the soil was teeming with new and potent antibiotics because bacteria have developed novel ways to fight off other microbes.
But 99 per cent of microbes will not grow in laboratory conditions leaving researchers frustrated that they could not get to the life-saving natural drugs.
Now a team from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, have discovered a way of using an electronic chip to grow the microbes in the soil and then isolate their antibiotic chemical compounds.
They discovered that one compound, Teixobactin, is highly effective against common bacterial infections Clostridium difficile, Mycobacterium tuberculous and Staphylococcus aureus.
Professor Kim Lewis, Director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Centre said: “Apart from the immediate implementation, there is also I think a paradigm shift in our minds because we have been operating on the basis that resistance development is inevitable and that we have to focus on introducing drugs faster than resistance
“Teixobactin shows how we can adopt an alternative strategy and develop compounds to which bacteria are not resistant.”
The organisms, found by researchers at NASA and the universities of Southern California and Hawaii, have yet to be classified or named and appear to live in buried aquifers under the crust that makes up ocean bottoms.
Scientists now estimate up to a third of the planet’s total mass of living organisms exist in these isolated aquifers made of porous basaltic rock below the oceans. Such large stores of living microbes could play a major role in the global carbon cycle.
See below for a video, a graphic on the work and to read more.
So today saw the release of a new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but despite its Lucasian title, this week’s It’s Okay To Be Smart isn’t about Luke and Leia. Sorry!
This video is about a completely different Phantom Menace: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Not all bacteria are bad, but dangerous superbugs are popping up faster than we can develop ways to fight them, some thanks to the overuse of antibiotics, and others just because plain ol’ evolution. You’ll learn how antibiotic resistance works, the interesting history of antibiotic research, and why we’re in an evolutionary arms race with a few bad bugs.
I hope I don’t scare anyone with this video, just keep washing your hands, don’t take antibiotics for things like colds and flu, and maybe consider studying microbiology so you can develop the next great antibiotic or next generation technology (phage therapy, anyone?) to fight these infections.
What do you think, will medicine give us a New Hope when it comes to deadly bacteria?
Kenneth Nealson is looking awfully sane for a man who’s basically just told me that he has a colony of aliens incubating in his laboratory.
We’re huddled in his modest office at the University of Southern California (USC), on the fifth floor of Stauffer Hall. Nealson is wearing a rumpled short-sleeve shirt, a pair of old suede loafers, white socks—your standard relaxed academic attire—and leaning back comfortably in his chair. An encouraging collection of academic awards hangs on one wall. Propped behind him is a well-worn guitar, which he sometimes breaks out to accompany his wife’s singing. And across the hall is the explanation for his quiet confidence: beakers and bottles full of bacteria that are busily breaking the long-accepted rules of biology.
Life, Nealson is explaining, all comes down to energy. From the mightiest blue whale to the most humble microbe, every organism depends on moving and manipulating electrons; it’s the fuel that living matter uses to survive, grow, and reproduce. The bacteria at USC depend on energy, too, but they obtain it in a fundamentally different fashion. They don’t breathe in the sense that you and I do. In the most extreme cases, they don’t consume any conventional food, either. Instead, they power themselves in the most elemental way: by eating and breathing electricity. Nealson gestures at his lab. That’s what they are doing right there, right now.
“All the textbooks say it shouldn’t be possible,” he says, “but by golly, those things just keep growing on the electrode, and there’s no other source of energy there.”Growing on the electrode.It sounds incredible. Nealson pivots on his chair to face me and gives a mischievous grin. “It is kind of like science fiction,” he says. To a biologist, finding life that chugs along without a molecular energy source such as carbohydrates is about as unlikely as seeing passengers flying through the air without an airplane.
One species of bacteria forms dynamic, living crystals, says new research from Rockefeller University. Biophysicists have revealed that fast-swimming, sulfur-eating microbes known as Thiovulum majus can organize themselves into a two-dimensional lattice composed of rotating cells, the first known example of bacteria spontaneously forming such a pattern. The regular, repeated arrangement of the microbial cells shares the geometry of atoms within a mineral crystal, but the dynamics are fundamentally different; the bacterial crystals constantly move and reorganize as a result of the power generated by individual cells within them,
Spent: This game is for anybody who feels like they know how they would live if they were poor. Just don’t buy as much stuff, right? The game, created by an ad agency for Urban MInistries of Durham, starts you off with $1000 in the bank and asks you to choose a job. From there, you have 30 days’ worth of expenses and decisions. You win if you can make it through the month without going broke.
This is a short, fast-paced game that pits you against an infectious disease. Your playing field: a network of susceptible people.
You get a head start, with a limited number of vaccinations you can give before the disease starts to spread. When you vaccinate somebody, they drop out of the network, their dot disappearing and the network breaking apart. Once the outbreak begins, your only tool is quarantine, which likewise drops people out of the network.
Strategies that win: vaccinating (or quarantining) people who have the most connections, which has the biggest impact on the route the disease can travel. If you can completely split the network into pieces, that helps you too. But beware: When you reach the “hard” level, you’ll find that some people in the network refuse to be vaccinated. The game was developed by Marcel Salathe’s epidemiology research group.
Gut Check– This one was designed by microbiologist Jonathan Eisen. It’s a “real” game, the website says, but “one might accidentally learn about concepts such as antibiotic resistance, hospital-acquired infections, prebiotics, probiotics, opportunistic infections and more.”
In this card game (which regretfully I have not played yet), you and friends each try to develop your own microbiome, filling it with beneficial species—but you can also play pathogens on your opponents, pass around antibiotic resistance plasmids, and spread germs in crowded places with the “airplane trip” and “go to work sick” cards. There’s even a homeopathy card for those turns when you’d rather not play anything at all.
The game is available as free downloads to print, and the makers are working on a professionally printed version too.
“Intelligence is a valuable thing, but it is not usually the key to survival. Sheer fecundity … usually counts. The intelligent gorilla doesn’t do as well as the less intelligent but more-fecund rat, which doesn’t do as well as the still-less-intelligent but still-more-fecund cockroach, which doesn’t do as well as the minimally-intelligent but maximally-fecund bacterium.”
Graphene and Nanoparticles Might Offer High-Tech Help for Your Choppers
Nanotechnology advances might soon be giving people with an upcoming dental appointment something to smile about. Scientists have published two studies focused on deploying either nanoparticle assemblies or graphene to control the bacteria that attack teeth.
Both materials have shown promise to dramatically slow tooth decay, cavity formation and gum disease, and one even offers a defense against antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The first possibility comes from the University of Rochester and the University of Pennsylvania, where researchers have figured out a way to keep an antibacterial compound on teeth after eating and being washed with saliva.