Microbial Highlight: Zymomonas mobilis adding biofuel to fire

Microbial Highlight: Zymomonas mobilis adding biofuel to fire

Kenny introduces Microbial Highlights, a new FTDM series exploring microbial diversity featuring unique artwork by Steffen Poltak. Notorious for ruining alcoholic beverages made from apples since Roman times, Zymomonas mobilis is now gaining momentum in the Biotch industry as an alternative to yeast for biofuel production. Read on to learn more about "cider sickness" and how may just be the solution biofuel needs.

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How small can they go? Ultra-small bacteria discovered

How small can they go? Ultra-small bacteria discovered

An international team led by researchers at Berkeley published the first detailed photos of ultra-small bacteria that push the boundaries of membrane-bound life and change our view of the microbial world. How did the researchers accomplish such a feat and just how small is ultra-small? Read on to learn more!

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Mutualism of the month: Frogs and a protective bacterial complement

Mutualism of the month: Frogs and a protective bacterial complement

The endemic Panamánian golden frog was at risk of complete extinction from the threat of a pathogenic fungus. It has since been raised in captivity with the hope of reintroduction to the wild. The only problem: the fungus is still around. Learn how researchers are developing a treatment for these amphibians involving mutualistic fungus-fighting bacteria in this month's mutualism.

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Mutualism of the Month: Aphids and a protective bacteriophage

Mutualism of the Month: Aphids and a protective bacteriophage

Bacteria and viruses are frequently thought of as parasites; a problem to society. Not all are harmful and some of them are even helpful. See how a bacteria and virus pair help save aphids from imminent danger in this month's mutualism!

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Mutualism of the Month: You're eating for 100 trillion, cross-feeding microbes and their humans

Mutualism of the Month: You're eating for 100 trillion, cross-feeding microbes and their humans

You may have heard there’s more bacterial cells inside you than human cells; it’s true. There’s about 10 times as many bacterial cells (~100 trillion) compared to human cells (~10 trillion). It’s estimated that there may be up to 1,000 different species of bacteria living in the human gut! Gut microbiota (not flora, flora are plants) make up to 3% of your total body weight. Find out how you work together with your gut bacteria in April's Mutualism of the Month!

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Mutualism of the Month: Tetrodotoxin-producing bacteria and their many hosts

Mutualism of the Month: Tetrodotoxin-producing bacteria and their many hosts

This month’s mutualism is between tetrodotoxin-producing bacteria and their many hosts.

Until recently, the origin of the tetrodotoxin (TTX) in pufferfish was unknown. TTX was first isolated by chemists from the ovaries of pufferfish in 1950. It was thought to be a toxin found exclusively within pufferfish (hence its naming after the pufferfish family Tetraodontidae), until it was found in the California newt Taricha torosa. After its discovery in newts, TTX was rapidly isolated from a diversity of animal species completely unrelated to each other, including several frogs, an octopus, several marine snails, a crab, and a starfish. This raised an interesting question: did all these animals evolve the ability to produce tetrodotoxin separately or is there some common factor?

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Beauty is bacteria.

Beauty is bacteria.

What do bacteria have to do with makeup? More than you might expect.

From the antimicrobial properties of makeup used by the ancient Egyptians to modern challenges to keep harmful bacteria out and invent new makeups, the past, present and future of the cosmetics industry is intimately connected to that of microbes. 

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Mutualism of the Month: Hawai‘ian bobtail squid

Mutualism of the Month: Hawai‘ian bobtail squid

This month’s mutualism is the Hawai‘ian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes and its bioluminescent bacteria Aliivibrio fischeri.

The Hawai‘ian bobtail is a small (1.5”), nocturnal squid endemic to the Hawai‘ian Islands.  Vibrio spp. are gram-negative facultative anaerobes (they don’t need oxygen) typically found in seawater, some of which can cause foodborne illnesses related to consuming shellfish.

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