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microbiology

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.

Photo of 12 petri dishes holding brightly colored fungi.
Abstractions blog

‘Zombie’ Microbes Redefine Life’s Energy Limits

August 12, 2020

A new model shows that the denizens of a vast, ancient biome beneath the seafloor use barely enough energy to stay alive — and broadens understanding of what life can look like.

Close-up of water swirling among rocks at the sea’s edge.
microbiology

Inside Deep Undersea Rocks, Life Thrives Without the Sun

May 13, 2020

Newly discovered worlds of microbes far beneath the ocean floor, inside old basaltic rocks, could point to a greater likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe.

An illustration that represents the big differences in size and diversity in the microbiomes of six species.
microbiology

Some Animals Have No Microbiome. Here’s What That Tells Us.

April 14, 2020

To stay healthy, humans and some other animals rely on a complex community of bacteria in their guts. But research is starting to show that those partnerships might be more the exception than the rule.

cell biology

Bacterial Clones Show Surprising Individuality

September 4, 2019

Genetically identical bacteria should all be the same, but in fact, the cells are stubbornly varied individuals.

Illustration: a virus broken up into parts over several cells
viruses

Viruses Can Scatter Their Genes Among Cells and Reassemble

May 21, 2019

Some viruses can replicate without infecting any one cell with all their genes.

Art for "Scientists Discover Nearly 200,000 Kinds of Ocean Viruses"
Abstractions blog

Scientists Discover Nearly 200,000 Kinds of Ocean Viruses

April 25, 2019

New work raises the estimated diversity of viruses in the seas more than twelvefold and lays the groundwork for a better understanding of their impact on global nutrient cycles.

Art for "Dormant Microbes Bide Their Time Over Decades - Old Fires"
ecology

Heat-Loving Microbes, Once Dormant, Thrive Over Decades-Old Fire

April 16, 2019

In harsh ecosystems around the world, microbiologists are finding evidence that “microbial seed banks” protect biodiversity from changing conditions.

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.