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Artist’s rendering of various orange and pink colored bacteria
Q&A: What if Immune Cells Don’t Actually Detect Viruses and Bacteria?
The Scientist spoke with Jonathan Kagan about his idea that immune cells respond to “errors” made by unsuccessful pathogens, not the pathogens themselves.
Q&A: What if Immune Cells Don’t Actually Detect Viruses and Bacteria?
Q&A: What if Immune Cells Don’t Actually Detect Viruses and Bacteria?

The Scientist spoke with Jonathan Kagan about his idea that immune cells respond to “errors” made by unsuccessful pathogens, not the pathogens themselves.

The Scientist spoke with Jonathan Kagan about his idea that immune cells respond to “errors” made by unsuccessful pathogens, not the pathogens themselves.

bacterial evolution
Newly hatched stinkbugs climbing over a pile of eggs.
Best Bugs: How E. coli Evolves into a Stinkbug Symbiont
Hannah Thomasy | Aug 15, 2022 | 3 min read
Experimental evolution study sheds new light on the origin of animal-microbe symbioses and what it takes for bacteria to support their insect hosts.
Illustration of bacteriophages infecting a bacterium
Phages Treat Gut Inflammation in Mice
Andy Carstens | Aug 4, 2022 | 5 min read
Mixtures of viruses that attack inflammatory bowel disease–causing bacteria in mice also survive the digestive tract and are well-tolerated in humans, a study finds.
Researchers use bacterial whole genome sequencing to compare the phylogenetic relationship between environmental and clinical samples.
Aquatic Bacteria Reveal a Common Genetic Link to a Deadly Human Pathogen
Iris Kulbatski, PhD | 5 min read
Researchers use genetic clues to track the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria from the environment to patients.
Black and white photo of excavation<br><br>
Black Death Likely Originated in Central Asia
Andy Carstens | Jun 15, 2022 | 5 min read
Genetic testing of people who died in Kyrgyzstan eight years before plague reached Europe reveals an ancient strain of the bacterium Yersinia pestis.
Steam rises from a blue-gray hot spring, visible beyond a patch of reddish, rocky soil.
Soil Microbes Sacrifice Ribosomes in Response to Warming
Sophie Fessl, PhD | Mar 29, 2022 | 4 min read
When soil heats up, microbes scale back protein synthesis machinery by making use of higher reaction rates that occur at higher temperatures, a study finds.
a vial of cobra venom and a bacteri-covered agar plate
Study Questions Sterility of Snake and Spider Venoms
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Jan 31, 2022 | 8 min read
In work that has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers present evidence that microbes can and do live inside the venom glands of several dangerous species. It remains unclear whether they’re to blame for infections linked to bites.
Artist’s rendering of the protein synthesis process, in which a tRNA molecules carry amino acids to a ribosome that’s decoding a strand of mRNA.
Screen of 250,000 Species Reveals Tweaks to Genetic Code
Dan Robitzski | Nov 9, 2021 | 5 min read
A massive screen of bacterial and archaeal genomes revealed five previously unknown instances where an organism uses an alternate code to translate genetic blueprints into proteins.
A purple bulge of microbes on the bottom of a lake
Longer Days Led to Oxygen Buildup on Early Earth: Study
Amanda Heidt | Aug 3, 2021 | 4 min read
Researchers propose that some of the planet’s earliest photosynthesizers benefited from a slowing of the Earth’s rotation that allowed them to produce a surplus of oxygen and paved the way for more complex life.  
Are Phages Overlooked Mediators of Health and Disease?
Catherine Offord | Feb 1, 2021 | 10+ min read
Bacteria-infecting viruses affect the composition and behavior of microbes in the mammalian gut—and perhaps influence human biology.
Infographic: Trans-kingdom Interactions in the Gut
Catherine Offord | Feb 1, 2021 | 1 min read
Phages interact with bacteria and eukaryotic cells in ways that researchers suspect influence mammalian health.
When Is an Endosymbiont an Organelle?
Ruth Williams | Oct 3, 2019 | 3 min read
The finding that a bacterium within a bacterium within an animal cell cooperates with the host on a biosynthetic pathway suggests the endosymbiont is, practically speaking, an organelle.
A Lost Microbial World the scientist
Prehistoric Microbes Inhabit an Oasis in the Northern Mexican Desert
Diana Kwon | Mar 1, 2019 | 4 min read
The blue lagoons of the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin provide a glimpse into the planet’s ancient past.
Opinion: Archaea Is Our Evolutionary Sister, Not Mother
Morgan Gaia, Violette Da Cunha, and Patrick Forterre | Jun 1, 2018 | 4 min read
The ancient organisms appear to be more closely related to eukaryotes than previously appreciated.
Mitochondria’s Bacterial Origins Upended
Shawna Williams | Apr 25, 2018 | 3 min read
Contrary to some hypotheses, the organelles did not descend from any known lineage of Alphaproteobacteria, researchers find.
Evolution’s Quick Pace Affects Ecosystem Dynamics
Jef Akst | May 1, 2017 | 10+ min read
From fish harvests to cottonwood forests, organisms display evidence that species change can occur on timescales that can influence ecological processes.
Inflammation Drives Gut Bacteria Evolution
Ruth Williams | Mar 16, 2017 | 3 min read
Viruses within Salmonella rapidly spread genes throughout the bacterial population during a gut infection, scientists show.
Evolution of Kin Discrimination
Ashley P. Taylor | Jul 6, 2015 | 4 min read
A bacterium’s ability to distinguish self from non-self can arise spontaneously, a study shows, reigniting questions of whether the trait can be considered an adaptation.
Evolutionary Rewiring
Ruth Williams | Feb 26, 2015 | 3 min read
Strong selective pressure can lead to rapid and reproducible evolution in bacteria.
Week in Review: December 9–13
Tracy Vence | Dec 13, 2013 | 3 min read
Animal family tree rearranged; how E. coli evades the immune system; pharmacological chaperones and misfolded proteins
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