What drives bacterial strain diversity in the gut? Although there are a number of possible explanations, a recent opinion piece addresses one potentially important and overlooked aspect of this unresolved question.
Scientists now reveal how viruses disable bacterial immune systems. For many bacteria, one line of defense against viral infection is a sophisticated RNA-guided "immune system" called CRISPR-Cas. At the center of this system is a surveillance complex that recognizes viral DNA and triggers its destruction. However, viruses can strike back and disable this surveillance complex using "anti-CRISPR" proteins, though no one has figured out exactly how these anti-CRISPRs work -- until now.
How can long DNA filaments, which have convoluted and highly knotted structure, manage to pass through the tiny pores of biological systems? Scientists used computer simulations to investigate the options available to the genetic material in such situations.
Bioengineers have discovered a protein that regulates the switch of embryonic stem cells from the least developed 'naïve' state to the more developed 'primed' state. This discovery sheds light on stem cell development at a molecular level.
Research on Prochlorococcus, the most abundant life form in the oceans, shows the bacteria's metabolism evolved in a way that may have helped trigger the rise of other organisms, to form a more complex marine ecosystem with overall greater biomass.
A bacterial species that hunts other bacteria has attracted interest as a potential antibiotic, but exactly how this predator tracks down its prey has not been clear. A new study reveals that the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus homes in on its target by taking advantage of fluid forces generated by its own swimming movements and those of its prey. These bring the bacteria in close proximity, giving BV a greater chance of successful attack.
Researchers have identified proteins that enable deadly malaria parasites to 'walk through cell walls' -- a superpower that was revealed using the Institute's first insectary to grow human malaria parasites. The research has identified two parasite proteins that are the key to this superpower. The proteins could be targeted to develop much-needed antimalarial drugs or vaccines.
Researchers have had the closest look yet at the inner workings of a plant's circulatory system. Their findings show how nutrients get from the leaves, where they are produced through photosynthesis, to 'sinks' that can include the fruits and seeds we eat and the branches we process for biofuels.
Fifteen new species of parasitic wasps have been described from the Neotropics. Apart from being quite distinct with their large and elongated bodies, the new insects also draw attention with their curious formal names. Among them, there are species named after characters from Star Trek and Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, and five wasps bearing names translating to 'helmet' in three different languages.
Not only have scientists from Japan performed the first non-destructive morphological observations on the fleshy brittle star, Asteronyx loveni, using micro X-ray tomography, but they also published their research as the first study supported by crowdfunding in the Asian country. The team leader managed to raise part of the funds via Japan's pioneering crowd-funding platform academist.
Researchers have found -- for the first time -- that a diet yielding high amounts of the short-chain fatty acids acetate and butyrate provided a beneficial effect on the immune system and protected against type 1 or juvenile diabetes.