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microbiome

2020 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2020

While the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was the most urgent priority, biologists also learned more about how brains process information, how to define individuality and why sleep deprivation kills.

Close-up photo of a carpenter ant queen carrying eggs.
evolution

How Two Became One: Origins of a Mysterious Symbiosis Found

September 9, 2020

Carpenter ants need endosymbiotic bacteria to guide the early development of their embryos. New work has reconstructed how this deep partnership evolved.

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.

Illustration
neuroscience

How Microbiomes Affect Fear

December 4, 2019

New studies help to explain how microbes in the gut can shape a host’s fear responses.

Root glowing green against black background. Small spheres and threadlike filaments surround it.
ecology

Soil’s Microbial Market Shows the Ruthless Side of Forests

August 27, 2019

In the “underground economy” for soil nutrients, fungi strike hard bargains and punish plants that won’t meet their price.

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.

Q&A

On Waste Plastics at Sea, She Finds Unique Microbial Multitudes

September 13, 2018

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

520px illustration of microbial networks
microbiology

Simpler Math Tames the Complexity of Microbe Networks

January 19, 2018

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