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Microbes


— Energy

Hybrid artificial photosynthesis technique produces hydrogen and methane

Not content with using hybrid artificial photosynthesis to turn CO2 emissions into plastics and biofuel, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) now claim to have produced an enhanced system that uses water and solar energy to generate hydrogen, which is in turn used to produce methane, the main element of natural gas, from carbon dioxide. Generating such gases from a renewable resource may one day help bolster, or even replace, fossil fuel resources extracted from dwindling sub-surface deposits.

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— Science

New technique uses most abundant gas on Earth to help create bioethanol

Zymomonas mobilis bacterium might be tricky to say, but this bioethanol-producing microbe could become a household name if Indiana University biologists have their way. The biologists claim have found a quicker, cheaper, cleaner way to increase bioethanol production in this microorganism by using the most abundant element in the Earth’s atmosphere: nitrogen gas (N2). By replacing chemical fertilizers with N2, production costs could be slashed and cellulose ethanol derived from wood pulp made much more economically viable – so much so that the researchers believe it may compete with corn ethanol and gasoline on price. Read More
— Medical

Hereditary gut microbes found to influence weight gain

A new study has determined that not only are bacteria naturally found in the gut involved in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but they are genetically inherited. Researchers at King's College London and Cornell University identified a highly-heritable bacterial family that is more common in individuals with low body weight and that could pave the way for genetics-based personalized probiotic therapies for obesity-related diseases. Read More
— Space

Synthetic biology could be the key to manned space missions

The secret to pulling off long-term manned space missions is biomanufacturing – at least, that's the argument presented by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who have used synthetic biology to produce sustainable alternatives to fuel and anti-malaria drugs. Their theory rests on the idea that biological production processes and harnessing of materials at the mission destination could dramatically reduce mass (and hence cost) requirements. Read More
— Science

MIT "microwalkers" stroll across cell surfaces to seek out target areas

Ever wonder how a germ knows where to attack the body or how a white blood cell knows where to counter attack? How bacteria find food? Or how cells organize themselves to close a wound? How can something so simple do things so complex? A team of MIT researchers is seeking the answers as they develop "microwalkers" – microscopic machines that can move unguided across the surface of a cell as they seek out particular areas. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Beyond the call: Scientist self-administers fecal transplant in search for healthy microbiome

American scientist Jeff Leach performed his own fecal transplant with stool borrowed from a hunter gatherer tribesman to better understand the changing nature of gut bacteria ecosystems. Mr Leach was working with the Human Food Project to study to Hadza tribe of Tanzania and the way their gut bacteria may differ from those of people in the West. Read More
— Good Thinking

DrinkPure water filter shows promise for worldwide use

It's no secret that hundreds of millions of people around the world have little or no access to drinkable water. While a number of projects are aimed at getting filtration systems to those people, many of those systems require electricity, contain costly materials such as silver, or treat the water at a slow rate. The low-cost DrinkPure filter, by contrast, is simply screwed onto the top of an existing bottle, and can purify approximately one liter (34 fl oz) of water per minute. Read More
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