Understanding of herpesvirus infection advanced by new research

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections last a lifetime. Once a person has been infected, the virus can remain dormant (latent) for years before periodically reactivating to cause recurrent disease. This poorly understood cycle has frustrated scientists for years. Now, scientists have identified a set of protein complexes that are recruited to viral genes and stimulate both initial infection and reactivation from latency. Environmental stresses known to regulate these proteins also induce reactivation.

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Gut microbes contribute to age-associated inflammation, mouse study shows

Inflammation increases with age and is a strong risk factor for death in the elderly, but the underlying cause has not been clear. A new study reveals that gut microbes are one of the culprits behind age-associated inflammation and premature death in mice. Imbalances in the gut microbes in older mice cause the intestines to become leaky, allowing the release of bacterial products that trigger inflammation and impair immune function.

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How to disrupt bacteria to better treat infections

Bacteria are everywhere. And despite widespread belief, not all bacteria are ‘bad.’ However, to combat those that can cause health issues for humans, there has been an over-reliance on the use of antibiotics — so much so, that many of them are now proving ineffective due to bacteria developing increased resistance to them.

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Better than nature: Artificial biofilm increases energy production in microbial fuel cells

Microbial fuel cells exploit the metabolism of bacteria in order to generate electricity. A new type of biofilm could soon make this relatively young technology considerably more effective, more stable, and easier to use. A research team has succeeded in producing a material that is far better suited for energy production in fuel cells than natural biofilms.

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Team tackles mysterious disease afflicting wild and captive snakes

Biologists and veterinarians across the central and eastern United States are calling on researchers to help them identify, understand and potentially treat snake fungal disease, a baffling affliction affecting more than a dozen species of wild and captive snakes in at least 15 states.

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Anthrax spores use RNA coat to mislead immune system

The body’s immune system initially detects the presence of anthrax spores by recognizing RNA molecules that coat the spores’ surface. But this prompts an unfavorable immune response that hinders the body’s fight against anthrax once the spores have germinated into live bacteria, according to a new study.

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Insight into protein critical to Zika virus reproduction

The atomic structure of a Zika virus protein that is key to viral reproduction has now been conducted by researchers, describes a new report.

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Key mechanism in the plant defense against fungal infections

Fungi cause important crop losses and pose a serious risk for human and animal health. A team of scientists has discovered a new component of the plant defense system against fungal infections. This finding provides new tools for developing plants resistant to fungal infections.

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New mouse developed that could provide advance warning of next flu pandemic

A transgenic mouse has been developed that could help scientists identify new influenza virus strains with the potential to cause a global pandemic.

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Smelling the risk of infection

Humans — like most non-human primates — are social beings and profit in many respects from the benefits of a community. However, their closeness to conspecifics is an opportunity for pathogens and parasites to infect new hosts. It is therefore advantageous to avoid sick individuals. Scientists investigated how mandrills recognize conspecifics infected with intestinal parasites and avoid an infection. The monkeys are able to smell an infected group member and consequently groom them less than healthy individuals.

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400 million years of a stable relationship: Molecular basis of balance in AM symbiosis

Researchers have identified a transcriptional program that drives arbuscule degeneration during AM symbiosis. This regulation of arbuscule lifespan has likely contributed to the 400MY stability of the symbiosis by preventing the persistence of fungal cheaters.

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Biologists discover timesharing strategy in bacteria

Biologists have discovered that communities of bacteria have been employing a social timesharing strategy for millions of years. The team found that bacteria faced with limited nutrients will enter an elegant timesharing strategy — a concept used in computer science, vacation homes and social application — in which communities alternate feeding periods to maximize efficiency in consumption.

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