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bacteria

  1. Caffeine-Junkie Bacteria Discovered, Could Help Clean Up Water Pollution, Decaffeinate Drinks

    Fun fact: As much as I love to cook, and it's a lot, I would trade all food in a second if I could live by just drinking coffee, which is what I functionally do most days anyway. Now, researchers have used a breed of bacteria that lives that dream and is able to subsist on caffeine alone and unlocked the genetic mechanism that lets the microbes pull off that impressive feat. They've even  managed to transplant it into other organisms, which could one day lead to bacteria that can clean up caffeine that pollutes water supplies and even decaffeinates coffee for us. That is a wrong thing to do to coffee, of course, but it's still might impressive.

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  2. Few Too Many Pounds? Trim Down With Bacteria From Your Buddy’s Gut

    There's always some new "breakthrough" in weight loss, touted by celebrities or TV personalities with pills, programs, or delicious new shakes. But you know what they're not touting, but actually could work? Ingesting the gut bacteria of someone slimmer than you. That's right. A new study finds that if you had the right bacteria transplant, losing weight might not be as much of a problem.

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  3. Russian Scientists Claim New Kind of Bacterial Life Found in Lake Vostok

    Russian researchers working on samples from Lake Vostok -- a subglacial lake in Antarctica sealed away for eons by more than two miles of ice -- say they have found signs of a wholly new kind of bacterial life in water samples taken from the lake. It's a pretty impressive claim, if true, and one could quiet concerns raised late last year the lake may have been entirely devoid of life -- not to mention meaning new chapters in microbiology textbooks. Now we just have to wait and see if this bold announcement holds water.

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  4. The Oldest Life on Earth Still Dominates at This German Cold Spring

    Do you want to get a glimpse of the life that dominated Earth during prehistoric times without being menaced by hyper-intelligent raptors? A German cold spring with a unique environment can offer you a look back into our planet's past, to a time when simple life forms known as archaea made the rules. Granted, it's not exactly Jurassic Park.  You'll need a high powered microscope just to see these prehistoric creatures, and they're not exactly as exciting to watch as a triceratops. Then again, they're also not going to try to murder and eat you, proving once again that life is a series of compromises leading inexorably to bitter disappointment. As if there were any doubt.

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  5. Some Bacteria From Earth Could Survive In Martian Atmosphere

    A team of researchers led by the University of Florida has found further evidence that some Earth-based life could survive in the to-say-the-least-inhospitable conditions of Mars. After testing 26 strains of bacteria under increasingly harsh conditions meant to represent those found on the Red Planet, the team was left with one -- Serratia liquefaciens -- could stand the low temperatures, pressures and oxygen-free conditions created in the lab to mimic those on the surface of Mars.

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  6. European Forest Cockchafer Keeps Gut Microbes Through Metamorphosis, Has Hilarious Name

    The European forest cockchafer -- which no, I can't type without giggling, thank you for asking -- lives on a diet of rough, woody, cellulose-heavy food. It can't digest much of the tough material on its own, but relies on a community of hard-working microbes to process its meals. A new study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, though, has revealed some surprising facts about the cockchafer's microbial community -- namely that the microbes it carries are persistent through its metamorphosis from larvae to beetle. That means that the microbes in its gut somehow survive the process of moving from grub to adult, which sees the animal's internal organs transform into entirely new structures.

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  7. Newly Discovered Seafloor Bacteria Are Living Electrical Cables

    Anyone who has made it through an 8th grade science class can tell you that electricity and water don't mix very well, which is why Spider-Man always whoops Electro's butt with a water gun. It's also why researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark were baffled three years ago when they discovered areas of the seafloor conduct an electric current. Today, the same research team announced that they've discovered the cause behind the current: A never before seen species of multicellular bacteria that lives in the mud of the seafloor and acts like living electrical cables.

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  8. Anthrax Bacteria Can Breed In Dirt, Be Even More Terrifying

    You know what's not scary enough? Anthrax. I don't know when it was, but a disease that creates black ulcers on your skin and has the potential to make your innards basically fall right out of your body lost its capacity to inspire terror. The horrific disease and occasional means of spreading panic in government buildings could get a little bit of its groove back, though, with a new study showing that anthrax bacteria are capable of breeding  -- and spreading -- in soil, where the disease was once thought to lay dormant.

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  9. The Economics of Disease: Keeping Cells From Sharing Resources Can Collapse Bacterial Communities

    The cells associated with cystic fibrosis are very good team players, working together to build thriving communities in patients' lungs. Those communities have their share of freeloaders, though, who consume resources without contributing, and researchers at the University of Washington are working on a novel way to use those lazy cells to treat the disease. By making it more costly for cells to share so-called "public goods" that the entire community needs to survive, researchers made selfish cells more common, causing the bacterial community to collapse when resources run dry.

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  10. Laser Cage Traps Tiniest Bacteria For Study

    Studying things that are smaller than we can see often seems like no big whoop now that we're working with things like nanoparticles every day in labs across the world. However, seeing things is one thing, while actually being able to study them is another. Researchers at the University of Freiburg have developed a way to use tubes of light to trap microorganisms in a laser cage and image them for closer study.

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