Category Archives: Microbial Evolution and Diversity

You can’t stop an outbreak without breaking a few eggs

Last year, a paper from Microbial Genomics described how scientists used molecular detective work to get to the bottom of an outbreak across Europe. In June 2014, there was an outbreak of Salmonella at a hospital in Birmingham. Thirty-two people were affected, and … Continue reading

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Drumming up disease? Anthrax and African drum hides

In 2006, a man in Scotland died from the first case of anthrax in Britain for 32 years. Then, in 2008, a man in London was fatally infected with the same disease. The properties of both men were sealed up … Continue reading

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New to science: May 2016

Each month, the Microbiology Society publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM), which details newly discovered species of bacteria, fungi and protists. Here are a few of the new species that have been discovered and the places they’ve been … Continue reading

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Microbe Machines: How ‘souped-up’ bacterial motors produce more torque

Many bacteria have tiny motors inside them, which they use to zip around like miniature submarines. Recently, scientists have managed to image a diverse selection of these nanomachines in more detail than ever before, and gain fundamental insights into how … Continue reading

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Archaea and the Tree of Life

As part of the latest issue of Microbiology Today, called ‘What is life?’ (published online 10 May), we explore the Archaea. These are microbes that have been around since the beginnings of life on Earth, but were only discovered in the last 40 years. … Continue reading

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An ancient remnant inside the malaria parasite

Today at the Society’s Annual Conference, Dr Ellen Nisbet talked about the malaria parasite Plasmodium, and how a remnant from its evolutionary past may one day provide a target for new drugs… Malaria is caused by protozoan parasites of the … Continue reading

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Discovering new lemur parasites in Madagascar

Madagascar is home to many species of wildlife that are found nowhere else on the planet. The island broke off from India about 88 million years ago and its inhabitants have evolved in isolation ever since, giving rise to the … Continue reading

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Mapping the microbes in your mouth

Scientists from the Forsyth Institute have managed to visualise communities of bacteria in the human mouth, showing their spatial organisation for the first time in “microbial maps”. The maps could help scientists understand the interactions between different oral bacteria and … Continue reading

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Friends with benefits, or exploitation?

Endosymbioses – where one species lives inside another – are found throughout microbiology. For example, Zooxanthellae are protozoa that live inside corals, the marine invertebrates that build coral reefs. And some plant roots contain nodules of Rhizobium bacteria that provide them with forms … Continue reading

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Microbes in an ancient mummy

Last month, researchers announced the discovery of ancient gut microbes in the frozen remains of a prehistoric mummy. DNA recovered from the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, may ultimately change the way we think about the migration of our species. We spoke … Continue reading

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