What's up in

bacteria

Q&A

On Waste Plastics at Sea, She Finds Unique Microbial Multitudes

Maria-Luiza Pedrotti is illuminating the unseen worlds of plastic-eating bacteria that teem in massive ocean garbage patches.

Art for "A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate"
neuroscience

A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate

Psychedelic drugs can trigger characteristic hallucinations, which have long been thought to hold clues about the brain’s circuitry. After nearly a century of study, a possible explanation is crystallizing.

Photo of Escherichia coli under a microscope
Abstractions blog

Swarming Bacteria Create an ‘Impossible’ Superfluid

Researchers explore a loophole that extracts useful energy from a fluid’s seemingly random motion. The secret? Sugar and asymmetry.

Lede art for "Chronological Clues to Life’s Early History Hide in Gene Transfers"
Abstractions blog

Chronological Clues to Life’s Early History Lurk in Gene Transfers

To date the branches on the evolutionary tree of life, researchers are looking at horizontal gene transfers among ancient microorganisms, which once seemed only to muddle the record.

520px illustration of microbial networks
microbiology

Simpler Math Tames the Complexity of Microbe Networks

The dizzying network of interactions within microbe communities can defy analysis. But a new approach simplifies the math and makes progress possible.

evolution

Simple Bacteria Offer Clues to the Origins of Photosynthesis

Studies of the energy-harvesting proteins in primitive cells suggest that key features of photosynthesis might have evolved a billion years earlier than scientists thought.

microbiology

Building Codes for Bacterial Cities

Hydrodynamics and competition guide the architectural design of biofilm fortresses.

Biology

The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death

Only a few genetic changes were enough to change an ordinary stomach bug into the bacteria responsible for the plague.

Biology

At Tiny Scales, a Giant Burst on Tree of Life

A new technique for finding and characterizing microbes has boosted the number of known bacteria by almost 50 percent, revealing a hidden world all around us.