A Newly Discovered Microbe Feasts on a Particularly Problematic Plastic

Like other forms of discarded plastic, polyurethane waste threatens the environment and human health. In an encouraging new development, European scientists have stumbled upon a hardy strain of bacteria that appears to thrive off the stuff. Read More >>

Study Identifies 300 Species of Bacteria That Live in the Human Vagina

Scientists say they’ve for the first time conducted an extensive analysis of the bacteria that live in the human vagina. And they seem to have found plenty of surprises. Read More >>

Cancer and Heart Disease Could Be Contagious Through Our Microbiomes, Scientists Argue

It’s a science lesson you probably learned in grade school: You can only catch certain illnesses, like the flu, from another person. But a new paper argues that many diseases seen as noncommunicable, like most cancers and heart disease, might be transmissible sometimes – thanks to the seemingly harmless microbes living in and on our bodies. Read More >>

Scientists Reconstruct ‘Lola’ After Finding Her DNA in 5,700-Year-Old ‘Chewing Gum’

Scientists in Denmark have squeaked out an entire human genome from a prehistoric piece of “chewing gum.” Made from birch tar, the 5,700-year-old gum also contained evidence of diet and disease and is providing a remarkable snapshot of life during the early Neolithic. Read More >>

Scientists Tricked Bacteria Into Cleaning Up a Polluted Aquifer in Spain

Scientists were able to coax local bacteria into cleaning up a polluted aquifer by injecting a safe, naturally occurring chemical into the water, according to a new study. Read More >>

‘Magic Mushroom’ Chemical Harvested From Bacteria For the First Time

New research shows that psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that puts the magic in magic mushrooms – can be made by bioengineered bacteria, highlighting a potential new way of mass-producing the valued chemical. Read More >>

Even the Flies Inside Hospitals Carry Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Upwards of 90 per cent of insects found in British hospitals carry potentially harmful bacteria, according to new research. Alarmingly, a significant portion of this bacteria is resistant to one or more antibiotics, highlighting a previously under-appreciated health risk—though the researchers caution that chances of infection are low. Read More >>

Sea Bacteria Colonise Your Skin After Just 10 Minutes of Swimming

If sharks and sunburns don’t scare you at the beach, perhaps this will: according to preliminary research out this week, it only takes a 10-minute swim in the sea to get your skin covered in a fresh coat of bacteria. While that’s not necessarily bad, some of these bacteria could be disease-causing or raise your risk of infection by disrupting your skin’s delicate microbial environment, known as the microbiome. Read More >>

The International Space Station is a Cesspool of Bacteria and Fungi, Study Finds

An extensive survey of bacteria and fungi on surfaces inside the International Space Station has revealed an astonishing number of microorganisms living among the astronauts – the health impacts of which aren’t entirely clear. Read More >>

A Common Household Ingredient Might Sabotage Your Antibiotics

Your daily gob of toothpaste or spritz of body spray might be inadvertently mucking up your antibiotic treatment, suggests new research. It found that a common household antimicrobial ingredient—triclosan—seemed to reduce the potency of antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections by a hundred-fold, at least in mice. Read More >>

Ancient Black Plague Found in Swedish Gravesite

Long before the two deadliest pandemics in history—the Plague of Justinian and the Black Plague—an ancient strain of the bacterium responsible for these scourges, Yersinia pestis, may have already wreaked havoc among Neolithic European communities over 5,000 years ago, according to a controversial new study. Read More >>

Photosynthesising Bacteria Found Thriving Thousands of Feet Below Earth’s Surface

An international team of researchers has identified a peculiar population of cyanobacteria living within rocks deep below Earth’s surface—a surprising discovery given that cyanobacteria require sunlight to survive. Or so scientists thought. Read More >>

Scientists Peer Inside the Disgusting Cloud of Living Things That Surrounds You Daily

From the minute we’re born, we’re surrounded by a swarm of things not visible to the human eye—dangerous pathogens, harmless microbes, and a wide assortment of chemicals. A new study out of Stanford University seems to illuminate this hidden world, and the results are admittedly both cool and terrifying. Read More >>

For Some People, Taking Probiotics May Actually Harm Normal Gut Bacteria

A pair of new studies published Thursday are the latest to suggest probiotic supplements might not be as universally useful as their proponents believe. Read More >>

E. Coli Bacteria Made This Image of the Mona Lisa

Scientists created this picture of the Mona Lisa using genetically modified E. coli bacteria. Such teeny little artists! Read More >>