science
‘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 >>

science
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 >>

science
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 >>

space
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 >>

science
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 >>

science
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 >>

science
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 >>

science
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 >>

science
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 >>

science
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 >>

science
Probiotic Supplements Might Be Giving Some People ‘Brain Fog’

Given their current popularity, you might assume that probiotics—capsules containing a mix of “good” bacteria that are said to rebalance our gut’s bacterial content—would be perfectly harmless. But a team of gastroenterologists from Augusta University in the US state of Georgia is challenging that assumption. Their recent study is the latest to suggest some people who take probiotics can develop a strange collection of symptoms, including gas, diarrhoea, and “brain fog.” Read More >>

science
Hong Kong Subway Study Shows How Quickly Bacteria Travel Across a City

If you’re one of the billions of people worldwide to use mass public transit regularly, you’re sharing a lot more than a commute with your fellow passengers, suggests a new study published today in Cell Reports. You’re also sharing and swapping the teeming microbes that call our bodies home. Read More >>

animals
Chimp Beds Are Way Less Filthy Than Human Beds

In a twist that rivals cinema’s best, a new study published Tuesday in Royal Society Open Science suggests a horrible truth: we’ve been the damn dirty apes all along. It found that beds made by one of our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees, contain little personal filth, meaning germs and parasites from their own body, and certainly much less filth than what’s typically seen in human homes and beds. Read More >>

science
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 >>

science
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 >>