Humans, Not Rats, May Have Been Responsible for Spreading the Black Death

The Black Death, a plague responsible for killing around a third of the population of Europe during the 14th century, spread to millions of humans by rats that carried infected fleas—right? That’s the story we’ve long been told by historians. A new study upends this conventional thinking, however, showing that humans, and not rodents, were the primary spreaders of the dreaded disease. Read More >>

Stop Feeding Your Pets Raw Meat

An emerging trend among pet owners is the practise of feeding dogs and cats raw meat. This idea is that we should put our domestic cats and dogs on diets that more closely approximate what they might eat in nature. New research from Europe shows the surprising degree to which germs and parasites can be found in commercial raw-meat products—posing potential health risks to both pets and their owners. Read More >>

A New Type of Steel Kills Bacteria With Nanospikes

In an age when bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to our best antibiotics and the words “E. coli” can shut down your favourite local burger place, people are desperate for anything that promises to wipe out germs. Unfortunately, when it comes to cleaning products that label themselves “antimicrobial,” they’re largely a pile of overpriced trash. Not only do they not work better than soap and water, but there’s growing evidence that they might make bacteria even harder to kill, by speeding along antibiotic resistance. Read More >>

Scientists Added Two New Letters to DNA’s Code

If you’ve taken a science class, you’re likely aware that DNA is the body’s instruction manual. But its language is only written in four letters: A, T, C, and G. Those who paid extra close attention will remember that RNA, the photocopy of the instructions that the cell actually uses, replaces the Ts with the letter U. Read More >>

Your Kitchen Sponge Contains More Bacteria Than Any Other Object in Your House

By this point, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that the world is full of bacteria. But the numbers can still be baffling. Take your body: it probably has 37 trillion cells or so, and maybe the same number of bacterial cells. Read More >>

Doctors Slam New Recommendation That We Should Stop Antibiotic Treatments Early

Scientists from the UK caused quite a stir this week, when they announced that we don’t necessarily need to complete a full course of antibiotics in order to treat infections properly. It’s a provocative message, but sceptics say their advice is grossly premature—and even reckless. Read More >>

Scientists Code an Animated GIF Into DNA

What’s a strand of DNA but data? We often think of its units, the As, Cs, Ts, and Gs, as letters of the words in an instruction manual. But what if, instead, we think of them as biological computer bits, storing the smallest unit of information? What stops scientists from harnessing the power of those units, using the latest biological technology to treat DNA like a writable disk? Read More >>

Space-Mutated Bacteria Could Be Bad News For Humans

A new experiment shows that long-term exposure to microgravity affects bacteria at the genetic level—conferring reproductive advantages that persist even after the bacteria is reintroduced to unaffected colonies and normal levels of gravity here on Earth. Read More >>

Scientists Engineered Bacteria to Make Picture of Super Mario

Bacteria have had some pretty great PR, recently. Thanks to lots of new research about their importance to our bodies, they’re not really seen as soulless microscopic murderers anymore. They’re colorful, misunderstood beings living together outside the spotlight, freeloading in our guts in exchange for favours. In other words, they’re artists. Read More >>

Are Vitamin Supplements Killing Our Gut Bacteria?

We consume all sorts of things before really knowing how they’re going to affect us, including probiotics and dietary supplements. But given how preliminary our understanding of our gut bacteria is, it’s very likely that some supplements can work in direct opposition of others. For instance, vitamin A might kill a bacteria hypothesised to promote childhood growth. Read More >>

An Innovative New Cancer Therapy Hijacks Bacteria to Fight Tumours

Researchers from South Korea have engineered a strain of bacteria that infiltrates tumours and fools the body’s immune system into attacking cancer cells. In experiments, the modified bacteria worked to reduce cancer in mice, raising hope for human trials. Read More >>

New £5 Notes Are Riddled With Bacteria – But It’s The Good Kind

Whenever the subject of money comes up, there's a party bore waiting in the wings to tell us that physical tender is filthy, covered in skin and drugs and particles of anus. But a new study of the recently-introduced polymer £5 notes shows that while they are indeed festooned with "colony-forming units" of bacteria, they're mostly the good kind - harmless or perhaps even beneficial to humans. Read More >>

Ravenous Bacteria Eats Poop and Produces Power

Researchers at Ghent University have hit on a method of harvesting energy from raw sewage that treats the wastewater without using external electricity. It’s all thanks to starving bacteria. Although this method is still in its lab testing stage, industry leaders are already interested in utilising it. Read More >>

Human Leprosy is Rampant in British Red Squirrels

British red squirrels are being afflicted by a medieval strain of leprosy that was thought to have disappeared from Europe over 700 years ago, according to a new DNA analysis. Researchers say the chances of the dreaded disease spreading to humans is low, but the discovery suggests this strain of leprosy has been lingering for quite some time. Read More >>

A Dreaded Superbug Has Officially Arrived in the United States

The US Centers for Disease Control has released a report in which it identifies over a dozen cases of a deadly, antibiotic-resistant fungus called Candida auris. It’s the first time this super-strain has been found in the US, and disturbingly, four of the first seven patients infected with it have died. Read More >>