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June - 2021

   

Some seafloor microbes can take the heat: Here's what they eat

      It's cold in the depths of the world's oceans; most of the seafloor is at a chilly 4°C. Not so the seafloor of Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California. Here, tectonic plates drift apart and heat from Earth's interior can rise up—so far up that it bakes large areas of the seafloor sediments, turning buried organic matter into methane and other energy-rich compounds.

Source: Phys

 

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Microbes feast on crushed rock in subglacial lakes beneath Antarctica

      Pioneering research has revealed the erosion of ancient sediments found deep beneath Antarctic ice could be a vital and previously unknown source of nutrients and energy for abundant microbial life.

Source: Phys

 

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Growing food with air and solar power: More efficient than planting crops

      A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, the University of Naples Federico II, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences has found that making food from air would be far more efficient than growing crops. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their analysis and comparison of the efficiency of growing crops (soybeans) and using a food-from-air technique.

Source: Phys

 

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Researchers create self-sustaining, intelligent, electronic microsystems from green material

      A research team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has created an electronic microsystem that can intelligently respond to information inputs without any external energy input, much like a self-autonomous living organism. The microsystem is constructed from a novel type of electronics that can process ultralow electronic signals and incorporates a device that can generate electricity "out of thin air" from the ambient environment.

Source: Phys

 

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May - 2021

   

Deep and extreme: Microbes thrive in transition

      A diverse microbial community has adapted to an extremely salty environment deep in the Red Sea. The microbes, many unknown to science, occupy a one-meter-thick area overlying the Suakin Deep, an expansive 80-meter-deep brine lake, 2,771 meters below the central Red Sea. The chemical properties of this thin "brine-seawater interface," along with the composition of microbial communities, change surprisingly rapidly across a sharp gradient.

Source: Phys

 

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Keeping more ammonium in soil could decrease pollution, boost crops

      Modern-day agriculture faces two major dilemmas: how to produce enough food to feed the growing human population and how to minimize environmental damage associated with intensive agriculture. Keeping more nitrogen in soil as ammonium may be one key way to address both challenges, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Source: Phys

 

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Research reveals ancient people had more diverse gut microorganisms

      Just ask Dr. Meradeth Snow, a University of Montana researcher and co-chair of UM's Department of Anthropology. She is part of an international team, led by the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center, that used human "paleofeces" to discover that ancient people had far different microorganisms living in their guts than we do in modern times.

Source: Phys

 

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New species discovered in the human gut microbiome could improve nitrogen availability

      This new species, Desulfovibrio diazotrophicus, is from a family of bacteria that survive and grow on sulfur-containing compounds. They are known as sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and a biproduct of their activity is the release of the gas hydrogen sulfide, which has a characteristic 'rotten egg' smell. Whilst this is unpleasant for those around you, there is also some concern that it is detrimental for gut health; the presence of SRB has been associated with gut inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer.

Source: Phys

 

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April - 2021

   

Deep under the ocean, microbes are active and poised to eat whatever comes their way

      The subseafloor constitutes one of the largest and most understudied ecosystems on Earth. While it is known that life survives deep down in the fluids, rocks, and sediments that make up the seafloor, scientists know very little about the conditions and energy needed to sustain that life.

Source: Phys

 

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Environmental DNA: How a tool used to detect endangered wildlife ended up helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic

      Imagine discovering an animal species you thought had gone extinct was still living without laying eyes on it. Such was the case with the Brazilian frog species Megaelosia bocainensis, whose complete disappearance in 1968 led scientists to believe it had become extinct. But through a novel genetic detection technique, it was rediscovered in 2020.

Source: Phys

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Bacteria breaking down mountains: Bioleaching to extract ores with less pollution

      How do you break down kilometers of rock to get the metals within? You go small. Bacteria-level small. If you've got a big rock with a little bit of metal in it, how do you get it out? Most of the time, you would smash it and dunk it in powerful acid until everything dissolves, then sieve out the metal. But what if that big rock is thousands of kilometers across? That's a lot of acid to buy. Not to mention how detrimental it could be for the environment.

Source: Phys

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Bacteria help plants grow better

      A current study by scientists of the University of Bonn and Southwest University in China sheds light on an unusual interdependence: Maize can attract special soil bacteria that, in turn, help the plants to grow better. In the long term, the results could be used to breed new varieties that use less fertilizer and therefore have less impact on the environment. The study is published in the prestigious journal Nature Plants.

Source: Phys

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March - 2021

   

New study shows microplastics turn into 'hubs' for pathogens, antibiotic-resistant bacteria

      It's estimated that an average-sized wastewater treatment plant serving roughly 400,000 residents will discharge up to 2,000,000 microplastic particles into the environment each day. Yet, researchers are still learning the environmental and human health impact of these ultra-fine plastic particles, less than 5 millimeters in length, found in everything from cosmetics, toothpaste and clothing microfibers, to our food, air and drinking water.

Source: Phys

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Researchers create more accurate model of how some microbes search for nutrients

      Many bacteria swim towards nutrients by rotating the helix-shaped flagella attached to their bodies. As they move, the cells can either 'run' in a straight line, or 'tumble' by varying the rotational directions of their flagella, causing their paths to randomly change course. Through a process named 'chemotaxis,' bacteria can decrease their rate of tumbling at higher concentrations of nutrients, while maintaining their swimming speeds. In more hospitable environments like the gut, this helps them to seek out nutrients more easily.

Source: Phys

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How an 'antibiotic' helps bacteria eat

      For years, scientists have known that certain bacteria produce molecules that are toxic to other bacteria when there is competition for food and space. Now, Caltech researchers have discovered these so-called antibiotics have another purpose: they help the bacteria acquire essential nutrients when resources are scarce.

Source: Phys

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Roundworms 'read' wavelengths in the environment to avoid dangerous bacteria that secrete colorful toxins

      Roundworms don't have eyes or the light-absorbing molecules required to see. Yet, new research shows they can somehow sense color. The study, published in the journal Science, suggests worms use this ability to assess the risk of feasting on potentially dangerous bacteria that secrete blue toxins. The researchers pinpointed two genes that contribute to this spectral sensitivity and are conserved across many organisms, including humans.

Source: Phys

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February - 2021

   

Visualizing the process of digestion in the oldest known animal-microbe symbiosis

      Marine biologists have been able to visualize for the first time how tropical sponges and their symbiotic bacteria work together to consume and recycle organic food. The research led by Meggie Hudspith and Jasper de Goeij from the University of Amsterdam, was a collaborative project with colleagues from the Australian Universities of Sydney, Queensland and Western Australia, and the research institute Carmabi on Curaçao, and is now published in the scientific journal Microbiome.

Source: Phys

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A unique prototype of microbial life designed on actual Martian material

      Experimental microbially assisted chemolithotrophy provides an opportunity to trace the putative bioalteration processes of the Martian crust. A study on the Noachian Martian breccia Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, composed of ancient (ca. 4.5 Gyr old) crustal materials from Mars has delivered a unique prototype of microbial life experimentally designed on actual Martian material. As the researchers show in the current issue of Nature Communications Earth and Environment, this life form of a pure Martian design is a rich source of Martian-relevant biosignatures. The study was led by Tetyana Milojevic, the head of the Space Biochemistry group at the University of Vienna.

Source: Phys

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Secret to how cholera adapts to temperature revealed

      Scientists have discovered an essential protein in cholera-causing bacteria that allows them to adapt to changes in temperature, according to a study published today in eLife.

Source: Phys

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Lab 3-D prints microbes to enhance biomaterials

      Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have developed a new method for 3-D printing living microbes in controlled patterns, expanding the potential for using engineered bacteria to recover rare-earth metals, clean wastewater, detect uranium and more.

Source: Phys

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January - 2021

   

Microbes fuelled by wind-blown mineral dust melt the Greenland ice sheet

      Scientists have identified a key nutrient source used by algae living on melting ice surfaces linked to rising sea levels.The Greenland ice sheet—the second largest ice body in the world after the Antarctic ice sheet—covers almost 80% of the surface of Greenland. Over the last 25 years, surface melting and water runoff from the ice sheet has increased by about 40%.The international research team, led by the University of Leeds, analysed samples from the southwestern margin on Greenland's 1.7 million km2 ice sheet over two years.They discovered that phosphorus containing minerals may be driving ever-larger algal blooms on the Greenland Ice Sheet. As the algal blooms grow they darken the ice surface, decreasing albedo—the ability to reflect sunlight. The blooms cause increased melting thus contributing to higher sea levels. In particular, a band of low-albedo ice, known as the Dark Zone, has developed along the western margin of the massive ice sheet.

Source: Phys

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Volcanic microbes

      Oak Ridge National Laboratory contributed to an international study that found almost 300 novel types of microbes living near a deep sea volcano. These microbes, which could be used in biotechnology, reveal new insights about their extreme underwater environment.

Source: Phys

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Scientists uncover the genomic differences of marine and freshwater microalgae

      Associate Professor of Biology Kourosh Salehi-Ashtiani and NYUAD Senior Research Scientist David Nelson report in a new study that they have successfully cultured and sequenced 107 microalgae species from 11 different phyla indigenous to varied locations and climates to gain insights on genomic differences in saltwater and freshwater microalgae. The researchers have also discovered that these algae genomes show widespread widespread viral-origin gene content.

Source: Phys

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How 'Iron Man' bacteria could help protect the environment

      As other reviewers and the program manager didn't share this sentiment, NSF funded the proposal. And, now, Reguera's team has shown that microbes are capable of an incredible feat that could help reclaim a valuable natural resource and soak up toxic pollutants.

Source: Phys

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