Spores of fungus, Candida albicans

The long strands are the tubular filaments (hyphae) that have developed from the fungal spores. Yeast cells (rounded, yellow) are budding from the ends of the hyphae (red). Candida albicans causes the infection known as candidiasis which affects the moist mucous membranes of the body, such as skin folds, mouth, respiratory tract and vagina. Oral and vaginal conditions are known as thrush.

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News

Microbes are always hitting the headlines. Keep up to date with the latest microbiology news. Most stories are linked to the full article.

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  • Opposite ends of the Earth

    18th January, 2018

    Despite being almost 12,500 miles apart, scientists at the University of Tübingen, Germany, have discovered that the microbes living on the land areas of the Arctic and the Antarctic are largely similar. The researchers suggest that it may be that these bacteria are spread via migratory birds or by humans, but they agree that these microbes are most likely ‘generalists’ – meaning they can survive in a wide range of environmental conditions. The research also showed that there were region-specific species, with a higher abundance of them in the more isolated Antarctic. Studying patterns in where microbes thrive is important as it gives insights into how ecosystems respond to changes in the environment, such as with climate change.

  • Chimpanzee deaths caused by human cold virus

    18th January, 2018

    When chimpanzees in Uganda started dying in an unexplained outbreak in 2013, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, were shocked to find that a human common cold virus was the culprit. Until now, rhinovirus C was only known to affect humans, but after autopsying one individual, the scientists found the level of the virus to be comparable to when human children – who are more susceptible to rhinoviruses – are infected. Through examining the Ugandan chimps’ DNA in faecal samples, the University of Wisconsin-Madison team noticed that chimps have not adapted to rhinoviruses and were likely vulnerable as a species. The transmission from human to chimp could potentially have resulted from human settlements expanding into chimp territory, or when the apes leave the forest to raid human crops.

  • Using bacteria to reduce dairy waste

    18th January, 2018

    The process of making dairy products generates a lot of waste in the form of acid whey, but a team of scientists from Cornell University, USA, and University of Tübingen, Germany, have discovered a way to turn this waste into useful compounds using bacteria. Acid whey is mostly made up of sugars and acid, but is too acidic to be fed back to livestock as is. Using reactor tanks filled with bacteria found in gut microbial communities, the research team noticed that acid whey could be converted into more useful substances like caproic and caprylic acid, which are natural antimicrobials and can be used in livestock feed. Alternatively, more processing could turn the production waste into compounds that can be further refined into biofuels. In reusing waste products, both options would offer more sustainable and cost-effective alternatives than are currently used.

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