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January 1, 1990 | Compiled from Times staff and wire reports
The U.S. Army is enlisting hungry microbes to do cleanup work on soil contaminated by residues of TNT and other explosives. The Army's 19,700-acre Umatilla Depot near Hermiston, Ore., will be the testing site, officials said last week. The system is a form of composting using microorganisms to eat the contaminants in soils and sediments, according to Capt. Craig Myler.
In what could be a significant boost to the bioremediation industry, specially modified crop-dusting planes Thursday began spraying oil-eating microbes over environmentally sensitive wetlands that were befouled by last Saturday's oil spill in Galveston Bay, Tex. The first areas scheduled for spraying included Pelican Island, where oil began coming ashore Tuesday.
From post to compost? Try taking some junk mail --yes, those pesky fliers, catalogs and coupons--and add some rhino manure and produce. Environmental researchers say the combination may produce garden magic. Dallas and Fort Worth post offices are sending junk mail to researchers, who are turning it into compost and testing it for use in gardens. Horticulturists at the Texas A&M Extension Service hope to have test results back in January. The program is the first of its kind.
January 4, 2003 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Using a giant straw to suck samples from beneath the ocean floor, oceanographers have found a thriving microbial zoo living deep within the ocean crust. Fluid collected from below the surface was chemically distinct from seawater and contained a variety of microbes, said University of Hawaii oceanographer James P. Cowen. The ecosystem has not been studied before because of the difficulty of reaching ocean crust fluids.
August 1, 2013 | By Louis Sahagun
A team of researchers in Woods Hole, Mass., has discovered a novel ecological habitat flourishing in one of the fastest growing segments of civilization's toxic waste stream: plastic marine debris. Welcome to the Plastisphere, a biological wilderness on microbial reefs of polyethylene and polypropylene in the open ocean teeming with single-celled animals, fungi and bacteria, many of them newly discovered. Some may be pathogens hitching rides on floating junk. The effects of plastic debris on fish, birds, turtles and marine mammals that ingest it are well documented.
July 4, 2013 | Geoffrey Mohan
The meek shall inherit the Earth, and that may not be a good thing, if the meek are cyanobacteria. It turns out that the ancient microbes lowest on Earth's food chain are sensitive sorts. Familiar strains of these organisms that provide "biological services" essential to complex life are about to lose the competition for a viable niche in a world turned warmer and more carbon-rich, according to two new studies. And the strains poised to dominate in the desert and ocean remain mysterious and largely unstudied.
May 29, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
Particular combinations of bacteria in the human digestive system can identify patients who have or are likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, scientists reported Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Nature . But the precise combinations of microbes that influence development of the disease may vary among patients of different ages, sexes and ethnicities, the Swedish and Danish researchers said - which means that more study will be...
August 6, 2012 | By Daniel J. Stone
Consider an all-too-common scenario: You're burning up from a high fever after a routine surgical procedure, and an infection specialist is called to help treat your problem. You assume that a short course of antibiotics will quickly turn things around. But the specialist candidly admits: "I'm sorry, I can't treat your infection. You've got a resistant bacteria, a super bug. " Any of us might hear those frightening words sooner than we think. Antibiotics once seemed like a miracle weapon in our fight against microbes that have plagued mankind for millenniums, killing untold numbers of people with wounds and serious infections.
April 1, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
Tiny microbes on the bottom of the ocean floor may have been responsible for the largest extinction event our planet has ever seen, according to a new study. These microbes of death were so small, that 1 billion of them could fit in a thimble-full of ocean sediment, and yet, they were almost responsible for killing off all the life on our planet, the scientists suggest. The end-Permian extinction was the most catastrophic mass extinction the Earth has ever seen. It started roughly 252 million years ago --long before the dinosaurs-- and it continued for 20,000 years.
February 4, 2014 | By Tony Barboza
As if it weren't bad enough to breathe already, a new study has detected traces of more than 1,300 species of microbes in some of Beijing's most polluted air. Most of the microbes detected by scientists were harmless bacteria that are commonly found in soil. But the study found some bacteria and fungi that are known to cause allergies and respiratory diseases. Some of those pathogens were found in higher proportions in air samples collected on the smoggiest days. Chinese researchers conducted the analysis because they were familiar with the health consequences of air pollution and wanted to know if it contained allergens and pathogens that could be adding to the problem.
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