Posts Tagged ‘Microbiology’

Belly button bacteria

March 27, 2013

If you were told you had an ecosystem living in your belly button, it might come as a bit of shock. Well, you probably do. These are just a few of the samples that Belly Button Biodiversity (BBB), a group of scientists , have taken from themselves as well as students, science bloggers and others.

Belly button bacteria

BBB want to strike down the “bad bacteria” stereotype and teach the world that many bacteria are harmless, helpful and a lot of times just hanging around, mooching off your body. The navel is an ideal place for bacteria to thrive because it’s isolated and most people don’t bother to wash it. But what BBB wondered was, do the bacteria change from person to person?

BBB grew the bacteria from hundreds of swab samples and found that most people’s belly button ecosystems are pretty unique. They found a total of 2368 types of bacteria, with 2188 present on fewer than 10 per cent of the samples. Learn more here.

Insect Smaller than an Amoeba

January 30, 2013

Thrips are tiny insects, typically just a millimetre in length. Some are barely half that size. If that’s how big the adults are, imagine how small a thrips’ egg must be. Now, consider that there are insects that lay their eggs inside the egg of a thrips.

That’s one of them in the image above – the wasp, Megaphragma mymaripenne. It’s pictured next to a Paramecium and an amoeba at the same scale. Even though both these creatures are made up of a single cell, the wasp – complete with eyes, brain, wings, muscles, guts and genitals – is actually smaller. At just 200 micrometres (a fifth of a millimetre), this wasp is the third smallest insect alive and a miracle of miniaturisation. Learn more here.

Perfume producing bacteria

January 4, 2013

The next time you savor the sweet flavor of vanilla ice cream or the fresh orange scent of a hand soap, you may have bacteria to thank. Fragrance companies are now looking to lab-engineered bacteria and yeast to produce fragrances normally derived from plants.

For centuries, humans have worked to harness good smells. Bottling a scent required painstakingly extracting plant oils from crops often grown in far-flung countries. The commercial fragrance market, which is responsible for the scents in everything from food and drinks to cleaning products and perfume, relies on a steady supply of these oils. But a natural disaster or corrupt government practice can easily dry up a source.

Now, using microbes to manufacture these scents is becoming a sweeter possibility. Compared to producing scents by chemical synthesis, microbial manufacture could be more eco-friendly, and still be labelled natural. And your nose will never know the difference. Learn more here.

Best Microscope Critter Photos

November 28, 2012

Every year for nearly four decades, Nikon has received hundreds of entries in its Small World microscope photography contest. Every year, the images are more amazing.

Spiders, weevils, wasps, lice, mites and mosquitoes are among the creepiest subjects of the winners of Nikon’s Small World microscope photography competition this year. Super-close-ups of eyes, tongues and silk spinnerets are amazingly beautiful, but also gross enough to induce shivers.

See more here or here.

Bugs live in the pores of our facial skin !!!

November 23, 2012

There are tiny bugs closely related to spiders living in the pores of your face. They have long been considered mere passengers, doing no harm beyond upsetting the squeamish. But they may be causing an ancient skin disease that is estimated to affect between 5 and 20 per cent of people worldwide, and 16 million in the US alone.

People aged between 30 and 60, especially women, sometimes develop rosacea: red inflamed skin, with swelling, roughness and fine, visible blood vessels, usually in the central zone of the face. Severe cases can resemble acne, irritate the eyes and lead to the bulbous red nose seen in caricatures of the elderly.

Scientists now think they have discovered the cause ….

Tiny mites – eight-legged arachnids related to spiders – live in the pores of our facial skin. They are particularly fond of the hair follicles of eyebrows and eyelashes, and the oily pores most common on the nose, forehead and cheeks. Called Demodex, the mites eat sebum, or facial oil, and colonise your face at puberty.

They crawl about your face in the dark to mate, then crawl back into pores to lay their eggs and die. Healthy adults have around one or two mites per square centimetre of facial skin. People with rosacea, however, can have 10 times as many, says Kavanagh. Research suggests that the stress that causes flare-ups of rosacea changes the chemicals in sebum, making it better food for mites. Learn more here.

The Sea We’ve Hardly Seen

July 20, 2012

An average teaspoon of ocean water contains five million bacteria and fifty million viruses – and yet we are just starting to discover how these “invisible engineers” control our ocean’s chemistry.

Microscope photo competition winners announced

July 13, 2012

The Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition recognizes outstanding images of life science specimens captured through light microscopes, using any magnification, any illumination technique and any brand of equipment.

The winners of the 2011 competition are in and in sixth place … Stink bug eggs:

See more here.

One person in a room adds about 37 million bacteria per hour to the air

June 15, 2012

A person’s mere presence in a room can add 37 million bacteria to the air every hour – material largely left behind by previous occupants and stirred up from the floor.

We live in this microbial soup, and a big ingredient is our own microorganisms. Mostly people are re-suspending what’s been deposited before. The floor dust turns out to be the major source of the bacteria that we breathe.

All those infectious diseases we get, we seem to get indoors. Learn more here.

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 4-Million-Year-Old Cave

June 2, 2012

Deep in the bowels of a pristine New Mexico cave, microbiologists have discovered nearly a hundred types of bacteria that can fight off modern antibiotic drugs.

The bacteria coat the walls of the Lechuguilla cave system on rock faces some 487 meters below Earth’s surface. Until recently, the microscopic life-forms had encountered neither humans nor modern antibiotics.

That’s because a thick dome of rock isolated the cave between four and seven million years ago. Any water that trickles through takes roughly ten thousand years to reach the cave’s depths—which means the subterranean life has existed entirely in the absence of modern medicine.

While not infectious to humans (fortunately), the cave bacteria can resist multiple classes of antibiotics, including new synthetic drugs. The discovery serves as an intriguing lead in the quest to understand how drug-resistant diseases emerge. Learn more here.

World’s First Cell Race

February 5, 2012

In a tongue-in-cheek contest of microscopic mobility, a line of bone marrow stem cells from Singapore beat out dozens of competitors to claim the title of the world’s fastest cells. They whizzed across a petri dish at the breakneck speed of 5.2 microns per minute — or 0.000000312 kilometers per hour.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 460 other followers