Microbiology puzzle solved by online video gamers

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Model of a protein as seen in Foldit

In an experiment called CASP9, scientists were struggling to map the structure of M-PMV, a protein involved in a virus that causes a form of simian Aids. In that experiment and others, the search had been going on for more than a decade. But the solution was not found by a laboratory but the players of an online puzzle game.

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Fungi Can Change Quickly, Pass Along Infectious Ability

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Studies done with this fungus have challenged existing beliefs about how quickly fungi can change their genetic makeup and become infectious.

Fungi have significant potential for “horizontal” gene transfer, a new study has shown, similar to the mechanisms that allow bacteria to evolve so quickly, become resistant to antibiotics and cause other serious problems.

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New Hand Bacteria Study Holds Promise for Forensics Identification

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A new technique developed at CU‑Boulder to identify individuals by the unique communities of hand bacteria they leave behind on objects they have handled may prove to be a valuable forensic tool in the future

Forensic scientists may soon have a valuable new item in their toolkits — a way to identify individuals using unique, telltale types of hand bacteria left behind on objects like keyboards and computer mice, says a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.

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New Microscopy Technique Offers Close-Up, Real-Time View of Cellular Phenomena

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This image, taken with atomic force microscopy, shows E. coli bacteria after they have been exposed to the antimicrobial peptide CM15. The peptides have begun destroying the bacteria’s cell walls.

For two decades, scientists have been pursuing a potential new way to treat bacterial infections, using naturally occurring proteins known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Now, MIT scientists have recorded the first microscopic images showing the deadly effects of AMPs, most of which kill by poking holes in bacterial cell membranes.

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How Ocean Bacterium Turns Carbon Into Fuel

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Fluorescent labeling of proteins inside the carboxysome show that cyanobacteria create carboxysomes in numbers proportional to length and space them evenly along their longest axis.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We hear this mantra time and again. When it comes to carbon‹the “Most Wanted” element in terms of climate change‹nature has got reuse and recycle covered. However, it’s up to us to reduce. Scientists at Harvard Medical School are trying to meet this challenge by learning more about the carbon cycle, that is, the process by which carbon moves from the atmosphere into plants, oceans, soils, the earth’s crust, and back into the atmosphere again.

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In Sync: Squid, Glowing Companions March in Genetic Harmony

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Hawaiian bobtail squid

The genetic interplay between the Hawaiian bobtail squid (pictured) and the symbiotic bacteria that colonize its predator-fooling light organ have been charted to reveal a daily rhythm that sets the stage for a balanced, lifelong relationship.

Most humans are blissfully unaware that we owe our healthful existence to trillions of microbes that make their home in the nooks and crannies of the human body, primarily the gut.

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Bat Echolocation: 3-D Imaging Differentiates How Various Bats Generate Biosonar Signals

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The Bat can generate and use Biosonar Signals.

Researchers at The University of Western Ontario (Western) led an international and multi-disciplinary study that sheds new light on the way that bats echolocate. With echolocation, animals emit sounds and then listen to the reflected echoes of those sounds to form images of their surroundings in their brains.

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Slime Design Mimics Tokyo’s Rail System

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This is the network formation in Physarum polycephalum.

What could human engineers possibly learn from the lowly slime mold? Reliable, cost-efficient network construction, apparently: a recent experiment suggests that Physarum polycephalum, a gelatinous fungus-like mold, might actually lead the way to improved technological systems, such as more robust computer and mobile communication networks.

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Bacteria Are More Capable of Complex Decision-Making Than Thought

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E. coli culture.

It’s not thinking in the way humans, dogs or even birds think, but new findings from researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, show that bacteria are more capable of complex decision-making than previously known.

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Single Atom Controls Motility Required for Bacterial Infection

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The binding and release of a single atom (calcium, shown in light blue) to a bacterial protein is necessary for microbial walking and infection.

Bacteria can swim, propelling themselves through fluids using a whip-like extension called a flaggella. They can also walk, strolling along solid surfaces using little fibrous legs called pili. It is this motility that enable some pathogenic bacteria to establish the infections — such as meningitis — that cause their human hosts to get sick or even die.

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Bacteria ‘Invest’ Wisely to Survive Uncertain Times, Scientists Report

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Drs. Gürol Süel (left), Tolga Cagatay.

Like savvy Wall Street money managers, bacteria hedge their bets to increase their chances of survival in uncertain times, strategically investing their biological resources to weather unpredictable environments.

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