Biology Botany Chemistry 

To Grow or Not to Grow? Bacteria Make Seeds Think!

By Radhika Desikan A seed is the beginning of new life for most flowering plants. It has all the potential to develop into a new plant, with its own stored food used for germination (the sprouting of a seed). However, if you have done any gardening, you might know that not all seeds always germinate. Whether or not a seed grows into a plant is determined by a number of factors, such as the presence of oxygen, water, and the right temperature. Seeds have a remarkable ability to detect whether…

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Viruses Are Talking, and It’s All About Peer Pressure Biology 

Viruses Are Talking, and It’s All About Peer Pressure

By Marie Davey @biophilesblog For everything from blue whales to bacteria, communication is an essential part of life. Living organisms use an astonishing array of methods to signal one another: sounds, scents, touch, vibrations, and color. Lightning bugs signal in the night to attract mates, gorillas bellow to establish their territory, plants release hormones to signal insect attacks, and honeybees dance to tell their hive mates where the best flower patches are. Communication is essential for organisms trying to attract a mate, signal threats, identify kin, and coordinate collective behavior.…

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Plant Bacteria Thrive in Wet Weather Biology Botany 

Plant Bacteria Thrive in Wet Weather

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Plants need water to grow. But too much water isn’t good for them either. Scientists have found that excessive rain and high humidity levels allow disease-causing bacteria to attack plants by creating a moist environment that makes them more susceptible to bacterial infections. When conditions are right, plants can be infected with bacteria, viruses, and fungi. While scientists and farmers have long known that wet weather and long periods of high humidity can increase the risk of crops getting diseases, the exact mechanisms have so far…

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Pathogenic Triggers of Bacterial DNA Discovered Biology Health 

Pathogenic Triggers of Bacterial DNA Discovered

By Shayna Keyles @shaynakeyles Bacteria, those mysterious, microscopic creatures living in, on, and around us, are very often our benign neighbors with whom we quietly cohabitate and occasionally exchange mutual support. However, as anyone who has ever gotten pneumonia or strep throat knows, bacteria are not always looking out for our best interests. Occasionally, bacteria become pathogenic and infect their hosts, and if we are their hosts, we get sick. In a groundbreaking study published on July 29 in Science Access, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory uncovered the molecular…

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Desert Dust Increases Harmful Marine Bacteria Biology Environment Oceanography 

Desert Dust Increases Harmful Marine Bacteria

By Emily Rhode, @riseandsci A new study out of the University of Georgia could help predict blooms of a common but deadly type of marine bacteria and change the way we view some the planet’s most important environmental processes. The genus Vibrio includes the bacteria that cause cholera. It can also cause gastroenteritis from shellfish consumption and wound infections from seawater in humans, as well as diseases in marine organisms. Dubbed “opportunitrophs,” the bacteria are known for their ability to reproduce and adapt to changes quickly. “Part of what makes these…

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This image shows the surface oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Research, including this latest study, has identified which bacteria were most important in breaking down the oil. Andreas Teske, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Biology Environment 

Oil Spill Cleanup Secrets of Gulf Coast Bacteria

By Shayna Keyles @shaynakeyles Bacteria have played a large role in cleaning up the Gulf Coast after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, but it is just now becoming clear how helpful these microbes have been. Microbiologists sequenced DNA from native Gulf bacteria and discovered genetic properties that make some of these microbes so well suited to the job of cleaning up oil. The Smallest (and Largest) Clean-Up Crew Scientists noted the proliferation of native bacteria just weeks after the rig explosion began to leak 4.1 million barrels of…

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antibioticsStaphylococcus aureus (Public Domain photo by Janice Haney Carr, Matthew J. Arduino, DRPH, USCDCP) Biology Health 

Searching for Alternatives to Antibiotics

By Steven Spence Biological Arms Race Modern, effective antibiotics were only discovered and widely used in the 20th century. The most famous antibiotic discovery was penicillin (Fleming, et al 1928), which only began to be used from 1942 onwards by the Allied Forces during World War II. It had a huge impact on the treatment of infections due to bacteria, but bacteria rapidly developed resistance to penicillin. Scientists and medical researchers identified more antibiotics, but over time bacteria became resistant to them, too. Today it is common to see news…

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