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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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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  • Captive monkeys have similar guts to us

    8th September, 2016

    The human gut microbiome has become increasingly less diverse in the types of microbes present, and to gain a better understanding of this, a team of scientists from across the globe investigated the difference between wild and captive monkey microbiomes. The study found that captive monkeys have less diverse gut microbiomes than their wild counterparts, and their gut microbe communities were much more similar to human ones on a Western diet.

  • Stopping the bacterial rudders

    8th September, 2016

    Sabotaging a bacterium’s propellers may be a way of removing its ability to infect people, says a team of researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan. Bacteria use these propellers – called flagella – to move around and spread infection, so the research group modified the protein responsible for growing flagella in order to disable them. These findings could point to a potential solution to antimicrobial resistance without the use of antibiotics.

  • Get infected by one, get one free

    8th September, 2016

    A study by scientists at Griffith University, Australia, suggests that the interactions between different avian parasites may affect the risk of infection for birds. Screening hundreds of wild birds in New Caledonia in the South Pacific, the group found nine strains of avian malaria and three strains of microfilaria – a type of parasitic worm. Further investigation suggested that if a bird was more likely to carry one parasite, it was at higher risk of being infected by another.

  • Two new genera of microbes

    8th September, 2016

    It’s always exciting to discover something new, as two groups of researchers can confirm – a team from South Dakota State University, USA, have found a new strain of the influenza virus (influenza D) that is distinct enough to warrant its own genus, Orthomyxoviridae. Meanwhile, researchers at Ohio State University, USA, have discovered a new genus of bacteria inhabiting hydraulic fracturing wells. The research group have named the single species in this genus Candidatus frackibacter.

  • How do bacteria and plants see the light?

    17th August, 2016

    Light-sensitive plants, bacteria and fungi detect light using a type of protein called a phytochrome, and researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, believe they have uncovered the secrets of these molecules. For bacteria, phytochromes are responsible for directing them to the best places to thrive. Previous studies modelled a section of the protein, but now the international team has pieced together the full length of the phytochrome structure. This knowledge means that, in the future, it may be possible to modify the protein to deliver drugs and target specific places within the body.

  • Mouse gut microbiota archived for the first time

    17th August, 2016

    A team of scientists at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, have isolated and archived a collection of 76 species of bacteria from the gut microbiome of mice. The collection reveals that around a fifth of the bacterial strains prefer colonising mouse intestines to human ones, showing there may be implications of working with mice for medical research. Although there are still many unanswered questions about gut microbiomes, this new public database helps to close the gap a little.

  • Bad fungal guests stealing from their host

    17th August, 2016

    Three related species of Pseudocercospora fungus are threatening banana plants, and researchers at the University of California, Davis, USA, have found that the two more aggressive pathogens – which cause eumusae leaf spot and black sigatoka – are able to steal the plant’s nutrients more efficiently. All three fungal species attack the plant by shutting down its immune system, but the new study showed that emusae leaf spot- and black sigatoka-causing fungi can also copy their host’s metabolism, in order to be in direct competition with the banana plant for nutrients.

  • No communications allowed

    17th August, 2016

    Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that can cause severe diarrhoea by producing toxins, and a team of researchers at the University of Texas, USA, have identified the way that the bacterium’s genes work together to produce these toxins. With C. difficile becoming more and more resistant to currently available antibiotics, this discovery could potentially lead to new methods of treating infections caused by the microbe, such as stopping those genes from being able to work together and therefore cutting off its ability to produce the disease-causing toxins. 

  • Looking at weird sea microbes

    10th August, 2016

    You may not have heard of radiolarians, but these protozoa are found throughout the world’s oceans as zooplankton. It was previously difficult to study the relationship between the 4,000 or so known species of radiolarians as they were difficult to grow in the laboratory, but researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway, have now used a new analysis technique to examine the diverse range of radiolarian genes. Their findings suggest that the microbes’ genealogy may need a refresh. For example, radiolarians were originally split into four groups, but the new technology has shown that one of these groups are not radiolarians at all. Additionally, one species – Sticholonche zancleais – turns out to also not be a radiolarian, but instead appears to be the common ancestor of existing radiolarians and another group of micro-organisms called the Foraminifera.

  • New viral fish killer?

    10th August, 2016

    The mass death of largemouth bass in a Wisconsin lake has led scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, to discover a novel virus. Although a link has not yet been established between the new virus – now named largemouth bass reovirus – and the fish die-off, genetic sequencing has found that it is related to other disease-causing fish viruses, making it the prime suspect. Further investigation is needed to understand whether it is killing the animals or perhaps opening them to secondary infections that lead to death.

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