New mechanism for bacterial division discovered in some bacteria

Scientists show how some pathogenic bacteria — such as the mycobacteria that cause tuberculosis — use a previously unknown mechanism to coordinate their division. The discovery could help develop new ways to fight them.

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Microbes from ships may help distinguish one port from another

Much the way every person has a unique microbial cloud around them, ships might also carry distinct microbial signatures. The key is testing the right waters — the bilge water from the bottoms of ships.

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First Chikungunya-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes found in Brazil

While more than 13,000 cases of Chikungunya viral disease were reported in Brazil in 2015, scientists had never before detected the virus in a captured mosquito in this country. Now, researchers have identified a mosquito — caught in the Brazilian city of Aracaju — that’s naturally infected with the East-Central-South-African (ECSA) genotype of Chikungunya.

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How bacterial organelles assemble

Scientists are providing the clearest view yet of an intact bacterial microcompartment, revealing at atomic-level resolution the structure and assembly of the organelle’s protein shell. This work could benefit research in bioenergy and pathogenesis, and it could lead to new methods of bioengineering bacteria for beneficial purposes.

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Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

Biomedical engineers have built simple machines out of DNA, consisting of arrays whose units switch reversibly between two different shapes. The arrays’ inventors say they could be harnessed to make nanotech sensors or amplifiers. Potentially, they could be combined to form logic gates, the parts of a molecular computer.

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Ecology insights improve plant biomass degradation by microorganisms

Microbes are widely used to break down plant biomass into sugars, which can be used as sustainable building blocks for novel biocompounds. Getting the right microbial community for this process is still a matter of trial and error. New insights by ecologists could make a rational design possible.

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Zika: Studying the ‘rebound virus’

Scientists are investigating how the Zika virus is able to find a safe harbor in an infected host’s tissue and stage a rebound weeks after the virus was seemingly cleared by the immune system.

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Active 24/7 and doing great: New clues to circadian clocks

Circadian clocks control the day-night cycle of many living beings. But what do the pacemakers do in animals whose activities do not follow this pattern? Scientists have now looked into this question.

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Bacterial superantigens turn our immune cells to the dark side

A subpopulation of immune cells that normally fend off pathogens can turn against the host during certain infections, a new study reveals.

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Understanding E. coli behavior in streams

Determining E. coli levels in sediments and its ability to attach to sand and silt and float downstream will help scientists figure out what needs to be done to decrease bacterial levels in streams.

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How to stop the nasty lurking toxoplasmosis parasite? Target its ‘stomach,’ research suggests

One in three people has a potentially nasty parasite hiding inside their body — tucked away in tiny cysts that the immune system can’t eliminate and antibiotics can’t touch. But new research reveals clues about how to stop it: Interfere with its digestion during this stubborn dormant phase.

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First atomic structure of an intact virus deciphered with an X-ray laser

An international team of scientists has for the first time used an X-ray free-electron laser to unravel the structure of an intact virus particle on the atomic level. The method used dramatically reduces the amount of virus material required, while also allowing the investigations to be carried out several times faster than before.

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