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TIGR and NIAID sign $65 million microbial sequencing contract
The world's leading center for microbial genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), has signed a five-year, $65 million contract with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to sequence and analyze the genomes of pathogenic microbes and invertebrate vectors of infectious diseases for the wider scientific community. (2003-10-02)

Saving dirt: Pristine soils losing out to agriculture and development
A new UC Berkeley study may cause some people to rethink the phrase, (2003-09-18)

Microbes active in Colorado snows fuel tundra ecosystem
Populations of fungi blanketed by Colorado's snows are more active and diverse than previously thought, and are likely responsible for the productivity of the tundra ecosystem they are a part of, according to findings by scientists funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) and Microbial Observatories programs. The researchers have published their results in this week's issue of the journal Science. (2003-09-04)

NASA scientist discovers new species of organism in Mars-like environment
They thrive without oxygen, growing in salty, alkaline conditions, and may offer insights into what kinds of life might survive on Mars. They're a new species of organism, isolated by scientists at the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) in Huntsville, Ala. (2003-07-30)

Biodiversity depends on historical plant and animal relationships
Scientists at Rutgers' Cook College and the University of Tennessee have discovered that how plant and animal communities originally assemble is a predictor of future biodiversity and ecosystem productivity. (2003-07-24)

IUB scientists to study the ecology of infectious disease -- inside ticks
Indiana University Bloomington and Ball State University biologists have been awarded $1.88 million by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to study how harmless and disease-causing microorganisms interact inside the bodies of ticks. (2003-06-17)

American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for June 2003 (second issue)
Newsworthy journal articles include studies that show: a single dose of humanized anti-human interleukin-5 antibody given to patients with severe, persistent asthma significantly reduced a white cell blood marker of serious allergic disorders called eosinophils; and elderly nursing home patients who had severe aspiration pneumonia probably suffered from microorganisms colonized in either their dental plaque or oropharyngeal cavity at the time of aspiration. (2003-06-17)

Zap dirty dentures: Two-minute microwave treatment kills bad bacteria
Traditional denture soaking methods often do not leave dentures completely bacteria-free. Combining the soaking cleaning program with a two-minute microwave treatment was overwhelmingly more effective to eliminate germs on the inside and outside of dentures worn from 12 days to 48 years, according to a recent study published in a 2003 issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). (2003-06-09)

Kefir may bolster lactose tolerance in intolerant people
For lactose intolerant adults, drinking fermented milk either eliminated or drastically reduced symptoms related to lactose intolerance. Researchers think that microbes in this fermented milk - called kefir - possess the enzyme that is necessary to digest lactose. Kefir is a little known, and slightly more expensive, alternative to milk. It contains a multitude of bacteria that are thought to break down lactose in the digestive tract. (2003-05-29)

The hormone ethylene is necessary for plant resistance
Dutch phytopathologists have shown that ethylene is vital for the protection of plants against bacteria and fungi. This is another function for the plant hormone already known to play a role in plant aging and fruit ripening. (2003-03-21)

UC Riverside scientists isolate microorganisms that break down a toxic pesticide
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside report that they have isolated microorganisms capable of degrading endosulfan, a chlorinated insecticide widely used all over the world and is currently registered to control insects and mites on 60 U.S. crops. Endosulfan is a persistent organic pollutant (POP) that enters the air, water, and soil during its use and manufacture. Owing to the persistence in the environment, residues of endosulfan can enter the food chain and directly affect public health. (2003-02-27)

Columbia University research sheds light on Lake Vostak and tectonic activity
The cavity that became Lake Vostok, a body of water located beneath more than 4 kkm of ice in the middle of East Antartica, was formed by tectonic processes in the earth's crust millions of years ago. (2003-01-22)

Scripps scientists discover rich medical drug resource in deep ocean sediments
Although the oceans cover 70 percent of the planet's surface, much of their biomedical potential has gone largely unexplored. Until now. A group of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, have for the first time shown that sediments in the deep ocean are a significant biomedical resource for microbes that produce antibiotic molecules. (2003-01-17)

Scientists target microorganisms to break down toxic pesticide
A pesticide used all over the world is receiving attention more for methods being used to clean it up than for its use as chemical to control insects and mites. Researchers recently identified specific microorganisms which can breakdown the toxicity of endosulfan, a Category 1 pesticide with extremely high acute toxicity. The results of this study are published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality. (2003-01-16)

Microorganism isolated in space
Analysis of air samples - collected from the stratosphere by teams of UK and India scientists - confirm presence of bacteria. The isolated organisms are very similar to known terrestrial varieties. There are however notable differences in their detailed properties, possibly pointing to a different origin. (2002-12-17)

From designer milk to 'green' cows: predictions for milk and dairy products in the next 50 years
Old MacDonald will be surprised when he sees what's headed for his dairy farm: specially bred cows that naturally produce low-fat milk, designer milk that boosts the immune system, and (2002-11-25)

UMass team to study bioremediation of acid, heavy metals from collapsed mind
Highly acidic drainage from an abandoned sulfide mine in Rowe is slowly cleaning itself over time, and an interdisciplinary research team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is studying why. (2002-11-21)

$750,000 NYSTAR grant for biosensor development
Engineer and physicist Harold Craighead of Cornell University has been awarded $750,000 by NYSTAR, a New York state research agency, to develop a chip-based analytical system for rapid analysis of chemical and biological compounds. (2002-11-20)

Microorganisms are cleaning up Boston Harbor, UMass study finds
Microorganisms are cleaning up contaminants in the mud beneath Boston Harbor, and if humans prevent future fuel spills, the harbor could potentially cleanse itself within 10 to 20 years, according to research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. (2002-11-13)

Focusing on preservatives: How they keep food fresh
Everyone has heard about food preservatives, but how do they work? Chemical & Engineering News, in the current issue, explains what these useful chemicals can do to keep food safe and palatable. (2002-11-12)

Researchers close in on natural solution to PCB contamination
A research team has identified one of the key stumbling blocks that prevent microorganisms from decomposing PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). The discovery could eventually show researchers how to teach microorganisms to break down PCBs into ecologically safe molecules, a process known as bioremediation. (2002-11-04)

Molecular machine could develop drugs for bioweapons victims
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory have created the first computer model of a key part of the E-coli ribosome, a cellular structure responsible for the creation of proteins, that has applications in the development of new and powerful antibiotics for use in the treatment of illnesses caused by all pathogens, including a host of bioweapons agents. (2002-09-30)

Mass spectrometer weighs in as proteomics breakthrough
A faster, more thorough mass spectrometry method for identifying proteins may significantly advance the technology infrastructure required to comprehend the role proteins play in cellular function and disease development. The systems already is providing new insights into how microorganisms gobble carbon out of the atmosphere and the role proteins play in a virus known to cause blindness. PNNL researchers have begun using PROMS to characterize the proteomes of three microorganism as well as cytomegalovirus. (2002-09-03)

Harvard Medical School consortium receives grant to harness microbe genomes for environment/energy
Harvard Medical School, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Partners HealthCare, is the recipient of a Department of Energy $15 million, five-year grant that will be used to study three bacteria each with unique properties important to the environment and energy production. Knowledge from this project may allow researchers to engineer microorganisms as miniature machines to clean toxic waste, consume carbon dioxide, and perform other environmental cleaning and energy production tasks. (2002-07-23)

New device removes drinking water contaminants
A Northwestern University environmental engineer has received a U.S. patent for a treatment device that renders perchlorate -- a thyroid-damaging ingredient of rocket fuel and a drinking water problem -- harmless. The applications extend beyond the safety of drinking water and this one pollutant. The cost-effective and environmentally friendly system also works on nitrate, a contaminant from agricultural fertilizers, and is expected to be successful with other oxidized pollutants, such as bromate, selenate, heavy metals and radionuclides. (2002-06-13)

Studying smallpox without smallpox
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered a way to study how smallpox overcomes the immune system. Due to the nature of variola, the virus that causes smallpox, researchers cannot access the virus conventionally. Using previously published data on variola DNA, Penn researchers reverse-engineered a variola protein from vaccinia, a related virus used to vaccinate against smallpox. Their findings suggest new means to develop safer vaccines and potential therapies for smallpox. (2002-05-27)

Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology: May 2002
In this month's journals: 1) the antimicrobial properties of licorice, 2) milk from Vaccinated cows prevents cavities, and 3) new treatment delays the onset of scrapie. (2002-05-13)

Rushing fireball developed its own form of sugar digestion
Microbiologists from Wageningen have discovered a strange form of digestion in an exotic microorganism. The rushing fireball, Latin name Pyrococcus furiosus, has reinvented the wheel for several steps of sugar digestion. (2002-04-18)

Bug vs. bug: scientists use microorganisms to target destructive termites
Government scientists are developing a new weapon against the Formosan subterranean termite, a highly destructive species that has caused millions of dollars in damage to houses and trees in the United States. The method involves exposing the termites to their natural enemies, certain species of bacteria or fungi, which infect and kill the pests. (2002-04-11)

Researchers describe overall water balance in subglacial Lake Vostok
Lake Vostok, which lies buried under thousands of meters of ice high on the Antarctic Plateau, is thought to be home to unique habitats and microorganisms. Confirming the existence of life forms and unique biological niches without contaminating the pristine lake waters, however, is a difficult scientific and technical challenge with international ramifications. (2002-03-21)

URI scientists study life buried deep beneath the ocean floor
URI oceanographers Steven D'Hondt, Scott Rutherford, and Arthur J. Spivack are studying the activity of bacterial life deep in the sediments at the bottom of the ocean. The most recent issue of Science reports that they use the chemistry of the water in deep-sea sediments to show that these abundant organisms respire at far slower rates than organisms living at Earth's surface. (2002-03-19)

The new biology of rocks: 'Are there medical implications of geomicrobiology?'
If microbial life is found on Mars, will it be native to the planet or something carried there from Earth? Either way, will it be safe to return samples of such organisms to Earth? Astrobiology, the search for life elsewhere, says a University of Illinois microbiologist, is making us look a lot closer at microbial life on Earth - how it adapts and its relationship to emerging infectious diseases. (2002-02-15)

UMass study uses microbes to turn mud into electricity
UMass microbiologists have found that certain microorganisms can transform organic matter commonly found at the bottom of the ocean into electrical energy. (2002-01-17)

UMass researchers find environment on Earth that mimics Mars geochemically and supports ancient life form
A research team led by Derek Lovley, head of the microbiology department at the University of Massachusetts, and Francis H. Chappelle of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has found an unusual community of microoganisms in an underground site in Idaho that may hold the key to understanding how life could survive on Mars. Their findings are spelled out in the Jan. 17 issue of the journal Nature (vol. 415). (2002-01-16)

New Biofilm Research Center will explore the wonderful world of slime
Whether it's the disgusting yellow film coating your teeth or the slippery crud clogging your kitchen sink, slime is something most of us want to eliminate, not cultivate. But for scientists, microbial slime - or (2001-11-28)

Scientists chart iron cycle in ocean
Scientists at the University of California have found that sunlight plays an important role in cycling iron in the ocean and making it available to marine life. (2001-09-26)

Plankton power
Organic matter on the seafloor is a potentially rich and practically inexhaustible source of energy. Research jointly funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is trying to harness just a small portion of this energy to power up small remote instruments. ONR's oceanic fuel cell is called OSCAR (Ocean Sediment Carbon Aerobic Reactor). (2001-09-19)

Antimicrobial resistance poses increasing problem for growers
An apple a day may keep the doctor away but apples themselves are often the victims of disease. In the past, growers have used antimicrobial compounds (or antibiotics as they're more commonly known) to control fire blight, a common bacterial disease plaguing apples. But antimicrobial compounds are becoming less effective as microorganisms develop resistance to them. (2001-08-24)

Marine methane consumed by consortia of bacteria
Methane consuming archaeobacteria and sulfate-reducing bacteria, acting together, are responsible for consuming most of the methane in the world's oceans, according to a team of microbiologists and geoscientists. (2001-07-19)

Scientists identify methane-consuming microbes from ocean depths
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) microbiologists report in the 20 July 2001 issue of the journal Science on new techniques that combine the identification of microorganisms with their biogeochemical activity. In the study, the researchers used the new approach to identify marine microbes that consume methane, an important greenhouse gas. (2001-07-19)

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