Gut flora and the human rainforest

Scientists have known for decades that the human intestinal tract is home to an abundance of diverse bacteria. This microbial rainforest is introduced incrementally to infants as they grow—primarily from their mothers during birth and breastfeeding and from everyday encounters. Many of these microbes aid in digestion and fight off pathogens, but until recently, researchers were not certain if phages, viruses that infect bacteria, were...

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From the Community: genetically altered salmon, microbes on dogs’ paws and anchovy roulette

Genetically altered animals come closer to approval, global climate change extends the time space junk orbits the Earth, researchers develop a method to identify and analyze whale vocalizations, artists shape messages about the planet’s health and female mollies prefer a more mustachioed mate. Here are highlights in ecology from the last week in June. Genetically altered salmon: Genetically modified salmon—Atlantic salmon containing a...

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Water pollution turns microbes virulent

An idyllic lake turns threatening when heavy rainfall causes a sewage treatment plant to overflow. Within 24 hours, once-benign microbes turn into virulent pathogens, breeding incessantly and attacking the embryos of lake fish. As much as that may sound like the synopsis of a movie on Mystery Science Theater, this is an impact on lake ecosystems that is actually occurring. It is widely accepted that nutrient enrichment and pollution...

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From the Community: Biodiversity in urban, isolated, marine and ancient settings

Millions of microbes found buried under the seafloor, fossils reveal the life of giant cockroaches and marine invertebrate struggles, a rare bird haven is explored in Colombia and urban ecologists address pollination in Harlem. Here’s the latest ecological news for the second week in April. Promiscuous pollen: Using scanning electron microscope images, Jonathan Drori of the BBC explains the link between pollen promiscuity and...

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Lost City ecosystem predisposes marine microbes

Scientists studying the Lost City hydrothermal vent field have found what appears to be microbes just waiting to thrive; that is, when their perfect ecosystem arrives. At the Lost City, microbes known to be rare in hotter, more active vents flourish in the cooler, moderated ecosystem of the older vent. And when those microbes’ ideal environment changes, another set of rare, pre-adapted microbes are ready to spring up, says William...

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