Not Even Science Could Explain the Bacteria In My Apartment

Three years ago, I gently brushed fiber-tipped swabs against the surfaces of my tiny New York apartment. Microbes live everywhere, and I was gathering samples for genetic analysis — I wanted to identify my microscopic housemates. » 3/05/15 1:35pm 3/05/15 1:35pm

A Woman Became Obese After a Poop Transplant 

Scientists have known for a while that gut bacteria can play a profound role in the weight of mice. Now we have a case report in humans that is not entirely surprising: A woman gained 36 pounds and became obese in the 16 months after a fecal transplant. » 2/10/15 6:20pm 2/10/15 6:20pm

Half the DNA on the NYC Subway Matches No Known Organism 

The results of a massive new DNA sequencing project on the New York City subway have just been published. And yup, there's a lot of bacteria on the subway—though we know most of it is harmless. What's really important, though, is what we don't know about it. » 2/05/15 7:40pm 2/05/15 7:40pm

Could Genetically Engineered Bacteria in Your Colon Replace Vitamins?

It's easy to forget how horrifying the effects of a vitamin deficiency can be. Each year, up to 500,000 children in the developing world go blind from lack of vitamin A, half of whom will then die within 12 months. The molecule that could save their lives is so well-studied and abundant, yet we haven't figured out how… » 2/04/15 2:40pm 2/04/15 2:40pm

Electricity-Eating Bacteria Are Real and More Common Than We Thought

In the extreme world of bacteria, stunts such as living in hot springs or without oxygen are, like, totally unimpressive. But then there are bacteria that live off electricity, feeding directly on naked electrons. Even more surprisingly, scientists are finding that these bacteria are not even that rare. » 7/17/14 7:47pm 7/17/14 7:47pm

Using Yeast DNA To Unlock a Better Beer

Beer may be as old as civilization itself, but modern molecular biology could teach craft brewers some new tricks. Troels Prahl, a brewer and microbiologist with White Labs, is currently analyzing the full DNA sequences of yeast from 2500 batches of beer in hopes of finding the yeast genes that explain why a lager… » 6/27/14 5:00pm 6/27/14 5:00pm

The SpaceX Launch Is Sending Dinosaur Microbes to the Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon capsule that just left Earth for the International Space Station is carrying many an important item: a new laser communication system, coffee (which they just ran out of!), a planter for fresh produce, and billions and billions of microbes swabbed from dinosaur bones, sneakers, and spacecraft clean… » 4/18/14 4:45pm 4/18/14 4:45pm

What Happens to Bacteria in Space?

In the otherwise barren space 220 miles above Earth's surface, a capsule of life-sustaining oxygen and water orbits at 17,000 miles per hour. You might know this capsule as the International Space Station (ISS), currently home to six humans—and untold billions of bacteria. Microbes have always followed us to the… » 4/10/14 11:00am 4/10/14 11:00am

4 Ways Tiny Microbes Changed Life on Earth Forever

This is the microbes' world—we just live in it. Throughout the history of Earth, microbes have radically reshaped life on the planet, from creating the very air we breath to wiping out almost all life on Earth. Don't underestimate the power of tiny, tiny microbes populating the Earth trillions of times over. » 4/07/14 12:00pm 4/07/14 12:00pm

A week of calamity in landscapes reads! Did microbes cause the largest mass extinction in earth's history? Why is California sinking? What did we learn from the biggest earthquake in America fifty years ago? And, closer to home, how dangerous should a playground be? » 4/01/14 9:40am 4/01/14 9:40am

Concrete-Dissolving Bacteria Are Destroying Our Nation's Sewers

Underground in places nobody likes to look, bacteria are doing terrible things to our sewage pipes. The concrete pipes that carry our waste are literally dissolving away, forcing engineers into a messy, expensive battle against tiny microbes. » 3/28/14 1:00pm 3/28/14 1:00pm

Whoa, Watch Bacteria Instantly Turn Water Into Ice

Believe it or not, making ice is more complicated than just making water really cold. One thing that helps is bacteria. Yes, bacteria! In this captivatingly magic video, it takes just a second for Pseudomonas syringae to turn a whole jar of water into ice. » 2/24/14 5:20pm 2/24/14 5:20pm

An Unintended Effect of Energy-Efficient Buildings: Toxic Mold

Energy-efficient buildings can be wonderful at keeping out drafts and keeping down heating bills. But the same air-tightness, unfortunately, is also perfect for trapping humid air where toxic mold can go to party. » 2/16/14 1:00pm 2/16/14 1:00pm

Newly discovered “Pandoravirus" could redefine life as we know it

Scientists have discovered a pair of viruses that defy classification. Bigger and more genetically complex than any viral genus known to science, these so-called "pandoraviruses" could reignite a longstanding debate over the classification of life itself. » 7/18/13 9:39pm 7/18/13 9:39pm

How NASA Prevents a Space Plague Outbreak

In the early days of space exploration, NASA basically made up procedure on the fly. With little knowledge of the world outside our atmosphere, agency physicians worried what humans might encounter out there. Maybe John Glenn would go Space Blind. Maybe the Apollo 11 crew would track an Andromeda Strain through the… » 9/25/12 1:00pm 9/25/12 1:00pm

There Are Lots of Bacteria in Your Belly Button

Ah yes, the belly button. A remnant part of your body that serves to collect lint. Lint and quite a bit more, according to the early results from the Belly Button Biodiversity project. » 7/05/11 12:04am 7/05/11 12:04am

Scientists Create Diode Propulsion Engine for Bloodstream-Swimming…

Science fiction edges ever closer to reality as researchers at NC State University devise a form of propulsion that can accelerate microbots through the human bloodstream. The challenge: not only finding a way to create this engine on such a tiny scale, but to provide power to it. The solution? Diode propulsion, using… » 3/15/07 1:37pm 3/15/07 1:37pm