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microbes

ecology

A Physicist’s Approach to Biology Brings Ecological Insights

October 13, 2020

The physicist Jeff Gore tests theories about microbe communities experimentally and finds new rules governing ecological stability.

Illustration of a woman brandishing a shield to keep viruses at bay. One virus has slipped through a small hole in it.
infectious disease

Our Genes May Explain Severity of COVID-19 and Other Infections

July 27, 2020

Researchers are examining the power of subtle genetic weaknesses in the immune system to affect the severity of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

John Priscu holds an ice core sample in a sterile laboratory.
Q&A

He Found ‘Islands of Fertility’ Beneath Antarctica’s Ice

July 20, 2020

John Priscu’s search for life that thrives under ice took him to subglacial lakes at the South Pole. Now he has his eye on Mars and Europa.

Art for "Researchers Rethink Ancestry of Complex Cells"
evolution

Researchers Rethink the Ancestry of Complex Cells

April 9, 2019

New studies revise ideas about the symbiosis that gave mitochondria to cells and about whether the last common ancestor of all eukaryotes was one cell or many.

Art for "New Squid Genome Shines Light on Symbiotic Evolution"
evolution

New Squid Genome Shines Light on Symbiotic Evolution

February 19, 2019

Researchers hope that the genes of a glowing squid can illuminate how animals evolved organs for beneficial bacteria.

evolution

Should Evolution Treat Our Microbes as Part of Us?

November 20, 2018

How does evolution select the fittest “individuals” when they are ecosystems made up of hosts and their microbiomes? Biologist debate the need to revise theories.

Lede photo for "How Vaccines Can Drive Pathogens to Evolve"
immunology

Vaccines Are Pushing Pathogens to Evolve

May 10, 2018

Just as antibiotics have bred resistance in bacteria, vaccines can potentially lose their effectiveness over diseases they controlled. Researchers are working to head off the evolution of new threats.

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

April 24, 2018

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.

Traveling person with a luggage filled with bacteria
Quantized Columns

What Bacteria Can Tell Us About Human Evolution

December 5, 2017

To discover our species’ deep history and to shape its future health, we should learn from the microbes that accompanied us on our evolutionary journey.