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SCIENCE
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.
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SCIENCE
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.
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SCIENCE
January 1, 2011 | By Lori Kozlowski, Los Angeles Times
Ever wonder what microorganisms do on a Saturday night? In professor Derek Lovley's lab at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, doctoral candidate Zarath Summers and her colleagues made a point to find out. In the process, Summers discovered a new cooperative behavior in bacteria. "Interspecies electron transfer" entails one microorganism forming a direct electrical connection to another. Scientists have known since the 1960s that microorganisms can indirectly exchange electrons through a process called hydrogen transfer, in which one microbe produces hydrogen and then another microbe consumes it. But this discovery takes hydrogen transfer and goes a step further.
SCIENCE
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.
SCIENCE
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...
SCIENCE
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.
SCIENCE
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.
SCIENCE
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.
NEWS
August 31, 1994 | FRANK CLIFFORD, TIMES ENVIRONMENTAL WRITER
A unique heat-loving microbe found in a 158-degree Yellowstone National Park hot spring 28 years ago has become an important player in the O.J. Simpson murder case, to the delight of conservationists who have suddenly been handed a provocative symbol for their cause. The microbe, dubbed Thermus aquaticus, is a key ingredient in a DNA fingerprinting technique crucial to the prosecution's case against Simpson.
SCIENCE
May 19, 2012 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Tim
Had enough of life in the fast lane and looking to take it down a notch or two? You might seek guidance from a colony of deep-sea microbes harvested from the barren depths of the Pacific Ocean that are progressing so slowly, they almost appear to be dead. Just how plodding are these ancient creatures, who are buried about 100 feet deep in the seabed? Some of them haven't received any new food for 86 million years, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth. And they are using up oxygen at rates 10,000 times slower than their counterparts on the surface of the ocean floor.
NEWS
October 30, 2013 | By Karen Davis
Everyone knows that squalor -- the kind most of the chickens people eat suffer before being slaughtered -- is a paradise for pathogens like salmonella. Disease microbes thrive in densely populated, dank, sunless places. To minimize the spread of infectious organisms among human and animal populations, sanitation, sunlight and the healing gift of space are necessary. These necessities are not present in the long, low buildings in which the majority of commercially raised chickens and turkeys sit in excrement while breathing toxic ammonia fumes from the manure that is everywhere in these buildings, from the machinery to the bedding to the birds.
NEWS
September 19, 2013 | By Scott Gold
The most high-fidelity search for methane on Mars has turned up none, a result that significantly reduces the chances of finding microbial life on the Red Planet. The highly awaited results of tests conducted by NASA's Curiosity rover do not completely rule out the possibility that something is alive on Mars, researchers said. But the findings, published online Thursday by the journal Science, strongly suggest that Mars is barren. “We're very confident in this result,” said study leader Christopher R. Webster, who oversees the development of planetary science instruments at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
SCIENCE
September 16, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
Thoughtless use of antibiotic medications continues to promote the growth of drug-resistant superbugs in the U.S., threatening doctors' ability to combat infections, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 114-page publication , which was written for the general public, offered the first comprehensive picture of drug resistance in the U.S., said  CDC's director, Dr. Thomas Frieden. He said he hoped the information would encourage doctors, patients and public health officials to take action to protect what he called a "precious national resource.
SCIENCE
August 22, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Nothing gets our attention like pain. But pain is more than the body's miniature cattle prod to get us to heed a wound, rest a swollen ankle, or stop eating chili peppers. Pain may be the language between animals and microbes. Far from being a product of an inflamed immune system, aggravated nerves far from the spine and brain appear to communicate with invading bacteria and regulate the fight against them, according to a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
SCIENCE
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.
SCIENCE
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.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
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.
NEWS
June 2, 1999 | From Associated Press
A methane-making, oxygen-hating microbe is able to thrive in Mars-like laboratory conditions, according to a researcher who says the experiment raises fresh hope about the possibility of life on the red planet. The microbe, said Timothy A. Kral of the University of Arkansas, "grows just fine and dandy" in a simulated Martian environment that would kill almost every other form of Earth life.
SCIENCE
June 26, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
It's well known that obesity is linked to diabetes, heart troubles and other health woes, but studies have also linked carrying too much weight to an increased risk of some kinds of cancer, including esophageal, colorectal, pancreatic and other cancers. Now researchers may have figured out why being overweight is linked to a person's chances of developing liver cancer: obesity seems to cause key changes in microbes that live in the gut, stimulating bacteria there to secrete chemicals that damage DNA and lead to the development of tumors.
SCIENCE
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...
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