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e. coli

  1. Science

    Zapping Fruits and Vegetables With Electricity Could Kill Bacteria Instantly

    A Purdue University study may one day make washing fruits and vegetables after you take them out of the plastic bag a thing of the past. According to research conducted by food science professor Kevin Keener, using a short sharp shock can turn the gasses inside of packaged fruits and vegetables into a plasma that can kill microbes like e. coli and salmonella in just seconds, making them safe and ready to eat right out of the bag.

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  2. Science

    Watch This Animation of How a Virus Finds the Best Place to Infect a Cell [Video]

    The process that the viruses use to infect cells has been observed in new detail for the first time by researchers at the University of Texas, and as you might expect, it is super creepy. Keep reading for a video simluation of the process, in which the virus unfolds six hairlike feelers from its body -- like some terrible, invading War of the Worlds mech -- as it attaches to a cell, and then uses them to walk along the cell surface, probing and prodding until it finds the perfect site to deliver its infectious payload, turning an unsuspecting cell into a living nightmare death machine built only to create more viruses. On the plus side, this is strangely comforting, as it means that viruses work pretty much exactly like they do in our heads -- in the most troubling manner possible. On the minus side? EUUUUUUGGGGHHHH.

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  3. Space

    NASA Sustains Life on Mars on Earth With Promising Results

    While the Curiosity rover and its newly remembered sibling Opportunity scan the surface of Mars for life and other oddities, it's up to scientists back here on Earth to determine if life is even possible in the Martian climate. New research by NASA announced at the American Geophysical Union's conference implies that it could be possible for Mars to sustain life. Scientists at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center have seen bacteria live in simulated conditions similar to those on the surface of Mars. This could give scientists a better idea of where to look for life on Mars.

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  4. Science

    Happy Global Handwashing Day! Everything You Own Is Covered In Fecal Bacteria

    It's Global Handwashing Day, everyone! You'd like to think that maybe we don't need an entire international holiday devoted to reminding us to wash up after we visit the restroom, right? We'd like to think that, too. Except here's the thing -- the numbers don't bear that out. In fact, a study released today by Queen Mary College and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that 1 in 4 Londoners have fecal bacteria -- like e.coli -- on their hands. Hands that they are just walking around touching things with. The really bad news, though? That seems tame compared to some of the other findings in the study.

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  5. Science

    Antibiotics in Pizza Meat Kill Off Helpful Bacteria, Can’t Touch Salmonella

    Okay, look: No one thought pizza meat was a thing that was good for us. (If you've been laboring under that delusion, we apologize, but yeah, it's not.) Up until this morning though, most of us were able to suspend our disbelief on that front, for the sake of,  "Come on, you guys, it's a slice of pizza. I quit smoking, what do you WANT out of me?"  We calmly reassure ourselves -- usually somewhere around the 3rd of 4th slice -- that pepperoni is probably not actively bad for us. Wrong. According to a study published today in the online journal mBio, yes, Virginia, pepperoni is totally helping bacteria murder you every time you eat it.

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  6. Science

    E. Coli May Prove to Be Excellent at Creating Biodiesel

    E. coli, popular intestinal bacteria often associated with fecal contamination, may have some hidden talents up its sleeves according to recent discoveries by Chaitan Khosla, a professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at Stanford. It seems that while some strains of E. coli can cause food poisioning, the strains that are naturally present in the human intestine -- yes, it lives in there -- could prove to be particularly good at creating fatty acids that are similar in make-up to gasoline directly from sugars and plant matter. That's way more important than it sounds at first.

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  7. Science

    1 in 6 U.K. Phones Contaminated with Fecal Bacteria

    The best thing, and maybe the worst thing, about cellphones is that you can bring them anywhere. Gone are the days of being attached to the wall, the days of phones that can only be used to talk to people, and the days of not having Internet access in the bathroom. Well, that last one may have its downsides. According to a recent study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, 92% of the phones studied had bacteria all over them and 16% had E. Coli, everyone's favorite bacteria of fecal origin. The study didn't just involve going around testing phones for bacteria, although that was part of it. In addition to testing the phones, the researchers gave the phones owners' an opportunity to self-report their hygiene habits. Spoiler alert: Some of them were big, fat liars.

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  8. Science

    Study: Benedict Arnold Bacteria Betray Their Brethren, Go On Killing Spree

    In what seems to be a bacterial death match, researchers at Nanyang Technological University have genetically altered Escherichia coli to attack and kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is responsible for many infections in hospital patients whose immune systems are weakened. Led by Nazanin Saeidi and Choon Kit Wong, the researchers created E.coli that produces the protein LasR, which can recognize molecules that P.aeruginoa uses to communicate. According to the researchers, they are basically using P. aeurginosa's own defenses against it. When the E.coli's LasR detects the chemical signals that P.aeurginosa uses to communicate with other cells, it switches on two genes. This first gene creates a lethal (to P.aeeruginosa) toxin called pyocin. The toxin breaks through the outer cell wall of the bacteria, causing its insides to leak out. The second gene causes the E.coli to break apart, killing itself and releasing even more pyocin.

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  9. Science

    Forget Arsenic Life, Now We Have Chlorine Life

    Last year, NASA scientists caused a whole lot of hullabaloo over the arsenic life study. Many people interpreted NASA's first teasing press releases about the study to mean that they had discovered alien life. Far from it, NASA researchers published a study claiming to have found bacteria that could use arsenic to build their DNA. This would make the bacteria unlike any other known form of life on Earth. While alien hunters were obviously disappointed, many in the science community were also left up in arms over the study. There was a subsequent media firestorm and backlash as scientists pushed back at the study for problems with the quality of the research. But just because arsenic life turned out to be hugely controversial, doesn't mean that other good research isn't being done in biochemistry. In fact, new research (that so far seems much less controversial) suggests that there is a form of E.coli that incorporates chlorine into its DNA.

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  10. Science

    Deadly E. Coli Sticks Like Glue

    In May, a form of the bacteria Escherichia coli (better known as E. coli) began infecting people in Germany and other parts of Europe. Now, with 18 dead and over 1,500 people infected, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the strain responsible for the outbreak has never before been isolated from a human patient, making it a completely new strain. Designated as 0104:H4, the new E. coli strain combines two particularly dangerous elements -- toxin and "glue." Genetic analysis has shown that the strain is in a class of E. coli called STEC that produces Shiga toxin, which causes diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, it can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) by attacking the kidneys and causing subsequent coma, seizure, and stroke. Researchers believe that like other STEC's, this strain contains a "glue" or protein that helps the bacteria cling to the cells in the intestine.

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  11. Science

    Your Prozac-Laden Pee is Killing Lake Bacteria

    Pollution in Lake Erie is nothing new, but a surprising threat may be attacking this great lake: Prozac run off. Microbiologist Steve Mauro says that his team has found traces of fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, that while harmless to humans seems to be killing off bacterial colonies of E. Coli in the lake. The concentrations Mauro found are around one nanogram per liter of lake water. At this dosage, even invertebrates are safe. However, other studies have shown that the chemicals in higher concentrations can have serious affects on aquatic life. So far, the research shows that it is only affecting bacteria like E. Coli, which may sound like a good thing, but it's very difficult to predict the impact such changes can have on a complex lake ecosystem. Mauro posed the question to National Geographic: "But what about all the other bacteria that are supposed to be there and part of that ecosystem?" More distressing than the presence of fluoxetine, which like other antidepressant ingredients has been found in water supplies the world over, is how it got there in the first place. Most of these chemicals are thought to come from pills dumped down the toilet, or from the urine of humans using the drugs. But Presque Isle State Park, where Mauro took the samples, is free from sewage. Mauro says that this opens a chilling possibility: That fluoxetine might be spread throughout the entire lake. (National Geographic via BoingBoging, image via farrellink)

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  12. Science

    Cockroaches and Locusts: Beneficial for Your Health

    Researchers at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have discovered that cockroach and locusts brains house antibiotic properties that could lead to treating bacterial infections.

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