Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis have found a new method to genetically alter bacteria and acquire super-strong spider silk. Farming spiders is incredibly inefficient and finding a way to mass-produce the material would bring us a step away from a ready supply of incredibly resilient fabrics. The method could clear the way for the production of other scarce proteins that could even be used for future space missions.
Most people who have been to Korean restaurants will be familiar with a signature Korean dish called Kimchi. This traditional dish has been consumed for thousands of years and is made from a mixture of Chinese cabbage, herbs and spices which is then fermented by naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria. Apart from giving kimchi its distinctive taste, it turns out that these probiotic bacteria might also be good for our health.
Food scientists from Cornell University have developed a test for rapid detection of E. coli in drinking water using genetically-engineered bacteriophages. It can be administered locally in hard-to-reach areas around the world and provides results within hours. Obtaining quick and accurate results is a current bottleneck in preventing infection and could save many.
Researchers from Indiana University (IU) have made the first direct visual observation of bacteria taking up foreign DNA from its surrounding. It is a key step in their process of rapidly evolving new traits, including troublesome drug resistance. The new methods developed by the researchers provided them with the ability to catch this mechanism on film.
New research suggests that some of the additives that extend the shelf life and improve the texture of processed foods may have harsh side effects on the human gut microbiome. The rise in deadly cases of a terrible gut infection caused by Clostridium difficile is the outcome of adding the sugar trehalose to almost all of our processed food.
Commonly prescribed drugs called fluoroquinolones, the fourth-most used class of antibiotics in the US, have been shown to cause rare, disabling side effects. Patients have experienced pain in tendons, joints and muscles, neurological and psychological difficulties. Researchers now have a few theories why such symptoms may occur.
Epidemics have plagued human populations for thousands of years, but there are very few clues as to what pathogens may have caused massive epidemics in the past. Scientists are using new techniques to extract and analyze ancient DNA, and what they have found may give us information about how things happened nearly 500 years ago.
MIT engineers devised new 3D printing technique that uses ink made from genetically programmed living cells. Printed layer by layer, cells, and nutrients in hydrogel form three-dimensional, interactive structure. They light up in response to a variety of stimuli and turn into living devices.
Scientists managed to add X and Y nucleotide bases to Escherichia coli bacteria’s natural genetic alphabet and create entirely new, synthetic proteins. This is a major step toward creating artificial life but the goal of their study was actually to develop a novel protein-based drug treatments.
The first reference database of the microbes colonizing the planet was constructed by more than 500 scientists. They contributed over 27,000 samples of microbiomes from diverse environments around the globe. The Earth Microbiome Project is a massive global research collaboration that resulted in ‘recapturing’ half of all known bacterial sequences.