Tag Archives | Bacteria

Poison-Breathing Bacteria May Be Boon to Industry, Environment

Pic: Cir_Flickr (CC)

Pic: Cir_Flickr (CC)

Interesting that they list industry first, seeing as how economic activity depends on the environment.  Via ScienceDaily:

Buried deep in the mud along the banks of a remote salt lake near Yosemite National Park are colonies of bacteria with an unusual property: they breathe a toxic metal to survive. Researchers from the University of Georgia discovered the bacteria on a recent field expedition to Mono Lake in California, and their experiments with this unusual organism show that it may one day become a useful tool for industry and environmental protection.

The bacteria use elements that are notoriously poisonous to humans, such as antimony and arsenic, in place of oxygen, an ability that lets them survive buried in the mud of a hot spring in this unique saline soda basin.

“Just like humans breathe oxygen, these bacteria respire poisonous elements to survive,” said Chris Abin, author of a paper describing the research published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and a doctoral candidate in microbiology.

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Peter Gorman Was Infected With Flesh Eating Bacteria In The Amazon

1002190_10151833672538659_352508625_nPeter Gorman, one of the men largely responsible for bringing awareness of ayahuasca to the western world and the author of the truly remarkable book Ayahuasca In My Blood could use some serious help.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-peter-gorman-please

Peter is a noted and award-winning journalist and adventurer – also a damn good friend, father, brother, guide and simply all-around one of the good guys, and there ain’t many good guys left.

For nearly 30 years Peter has been working with Ayahuasca, and in Peru in the deep jungle — he is a living legend.

Let’s keep it that way

This recent trip the jungle sunk its teeth in really, seriously deep and Peter picked up three different staph infections – a flesh eating bacteria – that tore into him and threatened to eat his leg away below the knee.

As I write this, his leg has been saved – however, he’s not out of the woods yet.

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Strain of Deadly ‘Flesh-Eating’ MRSA Bacteria Originally Came from Cattle

roflbotMuch like HIV made the leap from non-human primates to us, a strain of the antibacterial-resistant pathogen MRSA seems to have originated with cattle:

Via Eurekalert:

A strain of bacteria that causes skin and soft tissue infections in humans originally came from cattle, according to a study to be published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The researchers who conducted the genetic analysis of strains of Staphylococcus aureus known as CC97 say these strains developed resistance to methicillin after they crossed over into humans around forty years ago. Today, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strain CC97 is an emerging human pathogen in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. The findings highlight the potential for cows to serve as a reservoir for bacteria with the capacity for pandemic spread in humans.

The researchers sequenced the genomes of 43 different CC97 isolates from humans, cattle, and other animals, and plotted their genetic relationships in a phylogenetic tree.

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U.K. Experts Warn Of Possible Antibiotic Apocalypse

Is Rise of the Bacteria a legit doomsday possibility? Via the BBC:

The rise in drug resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming, according to the chief medical officer for England. She told a committee of MPs that bacteria were becoming resistant to current drugs and there were few antibiotics to replace them. Going for a routine operation could become deadly due to the threat of infection.

Antibiotics have been one of the greatest success stories in medicine. However, bacteria are a rapidly adapting…MRSA is one of the most feared words in hospitals wards and there are growing reports of resistance in strains of E. coli, tuberculosis and gonorrhea.

The World Health Organization has warned the world is heading for a “post-antibiotic era” unless action is taken. It paints a future in which “many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated”.

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When Antibiotics Fail, Fecal Transplants Work

The idea of somebody else’s feces being implanted in your body may not sound great, but on the other hand pumping chemicals into your body often proves to be fatal. Denise Grady reports for the New York Times that the “natural” cure for Clostridium difficile infections is far more effective than antibiotics:

The treatment may sound appalling, but it works.

Transplanting feces from a healthy person into the gut of one who is sick can quickly cure severe intestinal infections caused by a dangerous type of bacteria that antibiotics often cannot control.

A new study finds that such transplants cured 15 of 16 people who had recurring infections with Clostridium difficile bacteria, whereas antibiotics cured only 3 of 13 and 4 of 13 patients in two comparison groups. The treatment appears to work by restoring the gut’s normal balance of bacteria, which fight off C. difficile.

The study is the first to compare the transplants with standard antibiotic therapy.

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Scientists Discover Bacteria That Turns Toxic Chemicals Into 24-Karat Gold

Alchemy by bacteria, via the Huffington Post:

Scientists have developed a bug which produces pure gold. The team at Michigan State University say that they found the bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans is able to take gold chloride, a toxic chemical found in nature, and turn it into 24-karat gold.

“Microbial alchemy is what we’re doing – transforming gold from something that has no value into a solid, precious metal that’s valuable,” said Kazem Kashefi, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.

Unfortunately however the process isn’t particularly cost-effective meaning that it is more expensive to enact the conversion than the actual value of the gold produced.

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OM NOM NOM! Oil-Loving Bacteria Help With Deepwater Horizon Clean-Up

Picture: Artist's Conception, Oil-Eating bacteria (PD)

Via LiveScience:

Scientists studying the after-effects of 2010′s Deepwater Horizon oil spill report that naturally-occurring bacteria have devoured 200,000 tons of the oil and natural gas that settled into the ocean floor in the days after the disaster. Before you get too excited, though, remember that this is less than ten percent of the total amount that was spilled into the gulf. Still, every little bit helps, even if it seems the oil-loving microbes seem to have lost their appetite:

Researcher John Kessler, of the University of Rochester, said the hydrocarbon-eating bacteria removed the majority of the oil and gas trapped in underwater layers more than a half-mile below the surface. But the bacteria’s appetite seemed to die down five months after the April 2010 explosion that set off the environmental disaster, Kessler and his team found.

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Magnetic Bacteria Create a Biological Hard Drive

Hard DriveJacob Aron writes in New Scientist:

Computer virus destroyed your hard drive? Don’t worry, some day bacteria might build you a bigger and better one.

Hard drives store data on discs coated with a metallic film divided into tiny magnetic regions, each of which stores a single bit — the more regions you can squeeze on to a disc, the bigger the capacity. Now, a team at the University of Leeds, UK, have borrowed a trick from nature to build a new kind of hard drive.

Certain strains of bacteria absorb iron to make magnetic nanoparticles that let them navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. The team have extracted the protein behind this process and used it to create magnetic patterns that can store data. “We’re using and abusing nature because it’s had billions of years to do all of its experiments through evolution, so there is almost no point in us starting from scratch,” says Sarah Staniland, who led the research (Small, vol 8, p  204).

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How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

catnapIs a microscopic, mind-altering parasite spread by cats responsible for car accidents, hoarding behaviors, and schizophrenia? Respected scientists are now saying that “crazy cat lady” disease is real and millions of people are infected. Shocker from Kathleen McAuliffe in the Atlantic:

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?

The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis — the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death.

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Flesh-Eating Bacteria Mutation Now Spread By Sneezing And Handshakes

4014611539_bfdaef47d5My bet for how civilization will end in 2012…The worst strains of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” have largely been found within hospitals, but the newest version can be contracted far more easily and is spreading through the streets in Britain and the United States, the Daily Mail reports:

A flesh-eating form of pneumonia that is easily passed between healthy people on public transport is spreading across the UK, experts have warned.

The deadly strain of MRSA called USA300 passes easily through skin-to-skin contact. It can also survive on surfaces and so has the potential to be picked up on crowded buses and tubes. It was first seen in the U.S but cases are now being reported in the community and not just hospitals in Britain.

USA300 is resistant to treatment by several front-line antibiotics and can cause large boils on the skin. In severe cases, USA300 can lead to fatal blood poisoning or a form of pneumonia that can eat away at lung tissue.

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