by Elio | The end of bacterial flagella that is near the cell is a marvel of mechanical miniaturization — a molecular wheel that turns, just like the axle of a car. The assembly consists of a stator, the part that holds it in place, and a rotor, the part that… Read more →
by Maddie Stone | When most people look at soil, they just see dirt. When I look at soil, I see billions of microorganisms crawling atop one another, consuming the dead in a feasting frenzy that stops for nothing save a deep freeze. I see microbes and their enzymes, the digestive juices that break… Read more →
by Mizuho Ota | I wonder if you are familiar with this icon. It depicts the “eyedropper,” a commonly used tool in computer graphics and painting programs that allows you to choose any spot on an image and identify its exact color. On a computer this is easy information to obtain; however, in dealing with real materials, the question “but what exactly IS it?”… Read more →
by Eammon Riley and Alex Meeske | Writing this blog entry with a fellow graduate student nearly 3000 miles away taught us both a valuable lesson in communication: it is simply challenging to communicate effectively across great distances. Not so with microbes. Recently scientists have discovered that bacteria can overcome the problems of long-range communication. With the... Read more →
by Elio | It’s hard to tell for sure, but it seems to have been a pair of investigators at the University of Southern California, Richard Baker and Daniel Pease, who published a paperin Nature in 1949 showing rather undifferentiated sections of Bacillus megaterium that lack discernible internal details. Interestingly, the very next... Read more →
by Merry Youle | We live in a world run by microbes, the vast majority of which we have yet to identify or name. We can only refer to them collectively as the microbial dark matter (MDM). However you define a prokaryotic species, and however you tally them once identified, there is a huge… Read more →
by Daniel P. Haeusser | Robert Koch is one of the key figures in early bacteriology, helping develop culture techniques (e.g. solid media), critical reasoning (e.g. Koch’s postulates), and disease etiology (e.g.cholera and tuberculosis). He also published the first photomicrographs of bacteria (Figure 1A) in his 1877 paperVerfahren zur Untersuchung, zum Conservieren und Photographiren… Read more →
by Katrina Nguyen | Genetic redundancy, when two genes encode for the same function, is widespread among many organisms. Redundant genes confer an advantage: if one gene is lost, its partner can substitute and the phenotype of the organism will not change. It is unclear how redundancy is maintained during evolution since selection against… Read more →
by Heather Maughan |Observing microbes in nature is a challenge. Compared to what goes on in the lab, there is not much one can do with them out there. So, instead of bringing the bacteria to the lab, why not bring the lab to the bacteria? Imagine being able to capture the expression of… Read more →
by Vincent Racaniello | If you were a science professor, and you received two equally strong applications for the position of laboratory manager, one from a female, one from a male, which one would you pick? The answer may... Read more →
The purpose of this blog is to share my appreciation for the width and depth of the microbial activities on this planet. I will emphasize the unusual and the unexpected phenomena for which I have a special fascination... (more)
For the memoirs of my first 21 years of life, click here.
This Week in Virology, the podcast about viruses, celebrates its 300th episode on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 with a live recording at the Washington, DC headquarters of the American Society for Microbiology.