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Bacteria

Analysis and Comment (20)

Not pretty. Not pretty. Pete Seidel/Jack Poland/CDC

The bug that lost a few genes to become Black Death

About 6,000 years ago, a bacterium underwent a few genetic changes. These allowed it to expand its habitat from the guts of mice to that of fleas. Such changes happen all the time, but in this particular…
The make up of a person’s gut bacteria changes when they develop Crohn’s disease. The make up of a person’s gut bacteria changes when they develop Crohn’s disease. Ohmega1982/Shutterstock

Good vs bad bacteria: the bugs responsible for Crohn’s disease

New links between the bacteria in your gut and disease are being made almost daily. We know, for instance, that the microbial communities residing in your intestines have a role in your mood and levels…
This little thing changed the world. This little thing changed the world. Science Museum London

A world without antibiotics would be a dark place indeed

The introduction into clinical practice of antibiotics is arguably the most significant medical advance of the 20th century. Together with immunisation and better public sanitation, they’ve had a significant…
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria. The individual bacterium are rectangular and brown. Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria. The individual bacterium are rectangular and brown. Microbe World/Flickr

Bacterial genomics offers new approaches to better health

Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms abundant in nature that can’t be seen with the naked eye. In fact, there are approximately five multiplied by 10³¹ bacteria on the earth, constituting 90% of its…
Forget yoghurt, go to the chemist for an effective treatment for thrush. Forget yoghurt, go to the chemist for an effective treatment for thrush. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: yoghurt cures thrush

Vaginal thrush, or “vulvovaginal candidiasis” is a common condition, with around three-quarters of women experiencing an episode in their lifetime. Many readers may be familiar with the unpleasant symptoms…
As simple as the procedure sounds, we don’t yet fully understand how faecal transplants work. As simple as the procedure sounds, we don’t yet fully understand how faecal transplants work. Image from shutterstock.com

Trading chemistry for ecology with poo transplants

Antibiotics joined our growing arsenal of weapons in the fight against disease over seventy years ago. Their target – the bacterial infections that putrefied our wounds, filled our lungs with pneumonia…
When cooked food falls below 60°C, it’s in the temperature danger zone. When cooked food falls below 60°C, it’s in the temperature danger zone. riebschlager

Monday’s medical myth: leave leftovers to cool before refrigerating

Food poisoning doesn’t just come from dodgy kebabs, under-cooked chicken and restaurants with poor hygiene practices – it can also occur in the home. And anyone who has suffered a bout of food poisoning…
It doesn’t really matter how long food is on the floor, it’s likely to collect the same amount of bacteria. It doesn’t really matter how long food is on the floor, it’s likely to collect the same amount of bacteria. Flickr/bark

Monday’s medical myth: the three second rule (when food falls on the floor)

As a food microbiologist, I have always been amazed at people’s belief in the three- or five-second rule. It goes something like this: if you retrieve food dropped on the floor or another surface within…
No matter how friendly your detergent is, it does damage. No matter how friendly your detergent is, it does damage. NPS Photo/Neal Herbert

Environmentally friendly pollutants - what your detergent does to waterways

After the big wet, spare a thought for the health of your waterways and the substances that wash into them. Bacteria are important to the health of the waterways running through our backyards. As decomposers…
Microbial fuel cells: a bit of mud or sewage, a few bacteria and, bingo: electricity. Microbial fuel cells: a bit of mud or sewage, a few bacteria and, bingo: electricity. engineering for change

Mud power: how bacteria can turn waste into electricity

When you read the word “bacteria” you probably think about illness, advertisements for “probiotic” food supplements, and maybe about brushing your teeth. Chances are, you probably don’t think about electricity…
We may have pinpointed the event that started modern Y. pestis epidemics. We may have pinpointed the event that started modern Y. pestis epidemics. Steam Pirate.

Did the Black Death give birth to modern plagues?

Could contemporary plague outbreaks such as those that have hit Peru and the USA have their origins in the medieval era? It would seem so. A paper published in Nature today reports a genome sequence taken…
Marsupials and monotremes could do the dirty on drug-resistant infections. Marsupials and monotremes could do the dirty on drug-resistant infections. Lorinda Taylor/AAP

Doctor’s pouch: Australian mammals hold the key to fighting superbugs

We know, because it’s big news, that drug-resistant infections are on the rise globally. But could Australian mammals hold the key to a fightback? Our current crop of antibiotics is in danger of becoming…
Animals aren’t to blame – the bacteria came from humans. Animals aren’t to blame – the bacteria came from humans.

Genetic detectives: tracking the real culprits the German E. coli outbreak

The genomes of the recent German E. coli outbreak have revealed crucial insights into the origins of this deadly strain. The bacteria was found in German bean sprouts but it didn’t originate from the gut…
The virulent E. coli is likely to have spread through contaminated vegetables. The virulent E. coli is likely to have spread through contaminated vegetables.

From farm to the plate: Europe’s deadly E. coli outbreak

coli is a common germ that has traditionally caused blood stream infections and urinary tract infections. The virulent strain we’re seeing in Europe which has infected more than 1500 people and killed…
We import more antibiotics to promote animal growth than treat people. We import more antibiotics to promote animal growth than treat people. AAP

A game plan to win the coming fight against superbugs

We depend on antibiotics to treat what previously were fatal conditions. But the more we use them, the more the bacteria they fight become resistant to all the weapons in our arsenal. Bacterial resistance…
Viruses, parasites and bacteria have all developed resistance to current drugs. Viruses, parasites and bacteria have all developed resistance to current drugs. AAP

Superbugs vs antibiotics - a fight we can’t afford to lose

The World Health Organisation’s World Health Day is dedicated to the threat posed by the rapid emergence of drug resistant organisms. Viruses, parasites and bacteria have all developed some resistance…
The drugs don’t work. But a swifter way of identifying bacteria could reduce the need for antibiotics. The drugs don’t work. But a swifter way of identifying bacteria could reduce the need for antibiotics. AAP

It’s a cold! It’s the flu! No, it’s a superbug! (and kryptonite won’t work)

Antibiotics started out as the biggest medical breakthrough of the 20th century but overuse in humans and animals has led to resistance and reduced efficacy. We’re now at risk of reverting back to a pre-antibiotic…

Research and News (3)

Research Briefs (43)

Bacteria create whirlpools to ‘swim’

The mystery of how bacteria use a complex swirling vortex to “swim” through a drop of water has been solved. While B. subtilis…

Vacuum dust could carry harmful bacteria

Bacteria and mould found in the dust created by vacuums could lead to health problems in people with allergies, infants and…

Using copper against ‘superbugs’

Using copper objects in hospitals reduces infection rates, a US study has found. Patients were randomly assigned to rooms…

Cicada wings that kill bacteria

Cicada wings have been discovered to be the first natural surface to kill bacteria through their structure. Researches at…

Bacteria versus virus in oceanic war

The most abundant bacteria on record are also the hosts of the most abundant viruses, a result found by researchers from…

Anti-microbial catheter developed

A new anti-microbial catheter could remain infection free for up to twelve weeks. Scientists developed a catheter designed…

Bacteria boosts biofuel production

A new biofuel production process using microbes to manufacture biofuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes…

Salmonella finds new way to harm

New research shows salmonella bacteria have modified, attacking the protein-building process to sustain its capacity to create…