Bacteria have had some pretty great PR, recently. Thanks to a lot of new research about their importance to our bodies, they aren't really seen as soulless microscopic murderers any more. They're colourful, misunderstood beings living together outside the spotlight, freeloading in our guts in exchange for favours. In other words, they're artists.
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We consume all sorts of things before really knowing how they're going to affect us, including probiotics and dietary supplements. But given how preliminary our understanding of our gut bacteria is, it's very likely that some supplements can work in direct opposition of others. For instance, vitamin A might kill a bacteria hypothesised to promote childhood growth.
The bacterial world is rife with unusual talents, among them a knack for producing electricity. In the wild, "electrogenic" bacteria generate current as part of their metabolism, and now researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), have found a way to give that ability to non-electrogenic bacteria.
This researchers say this discovery could be used in sustainable electricity generation and wastewater treatment.
Researchers at Ghent University have hit on a method of harvesting energy from raw sewage that treats the wastewater without using external electricity. It's all thanks to starving bacteria. Although this method is still in its lab testing stage, industry leaders are already interested in utilising it.
British red squirrels are being afflicted by a medieval strain of leprosy that was thought to have disappeared from Europe over 700 years ago, according to a new DNA analysis. Researchers say the chances of the dreaded disease spreading to humans is low, but the discovery suggests this strain of leprosy has been lingering for quite some time.
The US Centres for Disease Control has released a report in which it identifies over a dozen cases of a deadly, antibiotic-resistant fungus called Candida auris. It's the first time this super-strain has been found in the US, and disturbingly, four of the first seven patients infected with it have died.
Scientists have discovered a microbe in the human nose that produces an antibiotic lethal to the MRSA superbug, among others. The discovery could lead to powerful new therapies to treat problematic bacterial infections, while also demonstrating the potential for the human body to produce bug-killing compounds.