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Scientists create a catalog of human gut bacteria

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A team of researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute has created a vast sample book containing nearly 8000 strains of bacteria from the human intestinal microbiome. As has long been known, most of these bacteria are useful or otherwise not harmful but there is a small minority that contributes to various health problems, including inflammatory bowel diseases.

The data set is available to all other researchers the hope of its creators is that it will help shed more light on the various dynamics of the many populations of bacteria found in the digestive tract of humans, as specified by Eric Alm, director of the Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics as well as professor at Al MIT.

The database was created by analyzing the stool collected from about 90 people in the Boston area over the course of two years. Currently, researchers are trying to improve the same database by analyzing samples from around the world. In this way, for example, it will be possible to identify and catalog the microbial strains that are not found in the intestinal tracts of those people who live in an industrialized area and in any case the catalog will certainly be more complete.

“Exploring this genetic and functional diversity is fascinating – wherever we look, we discover new things. I am convinced that enriching biobanks with a wide variety of strains from individuals living different lifestyles is essential for future progress in human microbiome research,” reports Mathilde Poyet, MIT researcher and one of the main authors of the study that appeared in Nature Medicine.

This study fits into the current stream of new research that is increasingly taking into account the weight and general importance of human microbes. Despite the numerous researches, at the moment it is still difficult to understand the functions of many bacteria and the links they may have with various diseases.

Links/Sources:

http://news.mit.edu/2019/catalogue-human-digestive-gut-bacteria-0902

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
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Scientists discover that “underwater” beetle larvae are massacring tadpoles

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The discovery of groups of beetles capable of exterminating thousands of tadpoles has been made almost by chance. The discovery was made by ecologist Jose Valdez who, together with his team, attempted to repopulate a frog conservation site in Newcastle, Australia. The researchers had thought to fence the area to keep out the predator snakes but had not calculated the possible arrival of perhaps even more deadly but at the same time much smaller predators: the Hydaticus parallelus, “underwater” beetles which attack in groups.

They use tactics of encirclement and attack so refined that out of 10,000 tadpoles introduced in the site, three years later only a handful of frogs remained. The case of predators that are much smaller than their prey is quite rare in the wild, just as it is unusual to see insects like beetles hunting in packs.

On nighttime stakeouts, Valdez and colleagues have noticed the tactics these insects use to surround a tadpole and tear it apart in the shortest possible time, tactics so refined that Valdez himself claims to have been shocked. In addition to attacking the tadpoles, these “diving” beetles lay their eggs inside the Lechriodus fletcheri frog eggs. The insects’ eggs usually hatch within 24 hours of hatching the frog’s eggs.

This way when the insects’ eggs hatch they can then easily attack the tadpoles as soon as they are born. Researchers have noticed that only beetle larvae were capable of killing up to three tadpoles every hour, often leaving their prey only half-eaten by another neighbor.

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]

Jane Baker
Continue Reading

Science News

Vitamin D defends against infections in skin wounds

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According to new experiments conducted by researchers at Oregon State University (OSU), vitamin D can be of great help in preventing infections, particularly those that can arise as a result of injuries to the skin.

According to the researchers, in fact, the treatment with vitamin D greatly reduces the number of pathogens in wounds by regulating an important antimicrobial peptide in the body. In the study, published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is in fact described as vitamin D, present in a few foods including beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and fatty fish meat, promotes the production of catelicidin (CAMP), an antimicrobial peptide made of immune cells and cells that act as a barrier against infection.

The same gene that encodes catelicidin is present in humans and other primates. In other mammals, including mice, there is a gene that resembles it but is not activated by vitamin D. In fact, researchers carried out experiments on mice by grafting the human CAMP gene into them: rodents showed greater resistance to intestinal and staphylococcal infections on the skin.

Adrian Gombart, a scientist at OSU, and one of the authors of the study, says in the press release: “With our mouse model, we have shown that treating a skin wound infected with S. aureus with the bioactive form of vitamin D significantly reduced the number of bacteria in the wound.”

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]

Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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Arid and very dry phases much more common in the Americas than thought

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Periods of drought in the Americas would be surprisingly common according to a study conducted by Columbia University paleoclimatologist Nathan Steiger. The scientist has in fact analyzed the tree trunk rings and found, as he explains in his study in Science Advances, several evidence that very dry climatic phases, such as those involving California this year or Chile in recent years, are actually very common.

The speech would be related to at least the last 12,000 years. According to the researcher, these very dry climatic phases have in common an abnormally very cold phase in the eastern Pacific Ocean and a process also known as La Niña.
Moreover, these analyses, making a projection into the future, suggest that further periods of extreme aridity could also involve the entire west coast of the Americas.

This study follows other studies that analyzed dead tree stumps located in the middle of lakes and rivers in Patagonia and the Sierra Nevada in California in the mid-1990s. Trees growing in watercourses or lakes indicated that drought levels so others must have lasted for decades. But it was only with this study, during which the scientist analyzed the tree rings, that the researchers used data covering much larger regions.

In addition, by combining these data with data on corals, ocean sediments and ice cores, the researcher has generated a kind of global vision of how the climate is changing. The research would confirm that from 800 to 1600 A.D., many such arid phases would have occurred in various parts of the world.

In particular the arid phases in the southwest of the United States were influenced by three factors, according to Steiger and the other authors of the study: the area of the North Atlantic Ocean abnormally hot, slight increases in global temperature and La Niña. As far as the arid phases of South America are concerned, it would be mostly only La Niña that would be the main trigger.

Now it remains to be seen how these drought patterns will change with ongoing global warming if it does. It is expected that with a warmer climate the drier phases will increase, but it is not so simple: scientists themselves remain divided on how the current climate change will affect the dry phases of certain areas. The drought that has been seen in Chile in recent years could, in any case, only be a faint example of what could happen in the future with consequences that could be catastrophic.

Jane Baker

An established and well-respected journalist, Jane worked for The Pueblo Chieftain (chieftain.com) as an editor for many years and holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she enjoys motorcycling, hiking and reading. She is largely responsible for assisting with research and writing new stories relating to new medical research.

1387 Berry Street, Saguache Colorado, 81149
719-655-0938
[email protected]

Jane Baker
Continue Reading

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