Bacteria

  • A new study shows how dangerous germs travel as stowaways from one continent to another

    Using a special culture, germs from smears can be recognized and identified. Photo: WWU/H. Dornhege

    As scientists from Münster University, in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, have now demonstrated, toilets at airports are also a “transfer point” for germs. These include germs against which traditional antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infections are not, or only partially, effective.
    Münster (mfm/sm) – Everyday life at an airport: there’s still time before the jet taking passengers to faraway countries takes off – time enough for a quick visit to the toilet. What awaits passengers there is not always a pleasant sight. However, what they don’t see can be much worse. As scientists from Münster University, in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, have now demonstrated, toilets at airports are also a “transfer point” for germs.

  • Bacteria supply their allies with munitions

    Vibrio cholerae bacteria (green) recycle T6SS proteins of the attacking sister cells (red) to build their own spear gun (light green intracellular structure). (Image: University of Basel, Biozentrum)

    Bacteria fight their competitors with molecular spear guns, the so-called Type VI secretion system. When firing this weapon they also unintentionally hit their own kind. However, as researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum report in the journal Cell, the related bacteria strains benefit from coming under fire. They recycle the protein components of the spear guns and use these to build their own weapons.

  • Big data processing enables worldwide bacterial analysis

    S. Aureus colonies © Nanobay

    Sequencing data from biological samples such as the skin, intestinal tissues, or soil and water are usually archived in public databases. This allows researchers from all over the globe to access them. However, this has led to the creation of extremely large quantities of data. To be able to explore all these data, new evaluation methods are necessary. Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a bioinformatics tool which allows to search all bacterial sequences in databases in just a few mouse clicks and find similarities or check whether a particular sequence exists.

  • Constricting without a string: Bacteria gone to the worms divide differently

    The rod-shaped bacteria densely populating the surface of the worm belong to the Gammaproteobacteria. These comprise members of our gut microbiome but also some serious pathogens. Nikolaus Leisch

    A new study provides fascinating insights into how bacteria divide. This shows not only how little we know about bacteria outside of the lab, but might also bring us one step closer towards the development of new antibiotics.

  • Dissecting bacterial infections at the single-cell level

    Left: a macrophage (nucleus in blue) infected with a non-replicating bacteria in yellow indicated by an arrow and on the right infected with bacteria that has replicated (red). (Picture: Antoine-Emmanuel Saliba)

    Technological advances are making the analysis of single bacterial infected human cells feasible, Würzburg researchers have used this technology to provide new insight into the Salmonella infection process. The study has just been published in “Nature Microbiology”. Infectious diseases are a leading cause of mortality worldwide. The development of novel therapies or vaccines requires improved understanding of how viruses, pathogenic fungi or bacteria cause illnesses.

  • Ectoine reduces chronic lung inflammation: A new therapeutic approach against COPD

    Illustration depicting bronchoconstriction

    Researchers at the IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine demonstrate for the first time the efficacy of the natural compound ectoine against chronic lung inflammation in an inhalation study with female volunteers from the industrial Ruhr region. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to world health organization (WHO), is currently the third leading cause of death.

  • Faster diagnosis of sepsis pathogens

    High-throughput sequencing of sepsis pathogens at Fraunhofer IGB. Fraunhofer IGB

    Microbial pathogens can be diagnosed unambiguously and within just 24 hours by means of high-throughput sequencing of their genetic makeup and special bioinformatics evaluation algorithms. Fraunhofer researchers have validated this in a clinical study with sepsis patients. The researchers present the NGS diagnosis platform at Medica in Düsseldorf from November 14–17, 2016. It is estimated that in Germany alone around 150,000 people fall ill with sepsis every year; despite medical advances, between 30 and 50 percent of the patients still die of the consequences. One of the reasons for the high mortality rate: the diagnosis often comes too late for the lifesaving therapy with antibiotics that only combat the specific causative pathogen.

  • High-speed camera snaps bio-switch in action

    The riboswitch 'button' before, during and after coupling of the ligand (green), from left to right. Credit: Yun-Xing Wang and Jason Stagno, National Cancer Institute

    X-ray experiment opens new route to study biochemical reactions. With a powerful X-ray camera, scientists have watched a genetic switch at work for the first time. The study led by Yun-Xing Wang from the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. reveals the ultrafast dynamics of a riboswitch, a gene regulator that can switch individual genes on and off. The innovative technique used for this investigation opens up a completely new avenue for studying numerous fundamental biochemical reactions, as the team reports in a fast-track publication in the journal Nature.

  • How cells take out the trash: the “phospho-kiss of death” deciphered

    Phosphoarginine functions as a protein degradation tag in Gram-positive bacteria IMP

    Cells never forget to take out the trash. It has long been known that cells tag proteins for degradation by labelling them with ubiquitin, a signal described as “the molecular kiss of death”. In the current issue of Nature, Tim Clausen’s group at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna identifies an analogous system in gram-positive bacteria, where the role of a degradation tag is fulfilled by a little known post-translational modification: arginine phosphorylation. The discovery opens new avenues for designing antibacterial therapies.

  • Immune system reactions elucidated by mathematics

    Bacteria of the species Streptococcus pneumoniae colonising an endothelial cell. HZI/M. Rohde

    Using computer-based simulations and mouse experiments, HZI researchers disentangled the effects of proinflammatory signaling molecules on the post-influenza susceptibility to pneumococcal coinfection. A body infected by the influenza virus is particularly susceptible to other pathogens. Bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae, i.e. the pathogen causing pneumonia, find it easy to attack an influenza-modulated immune system and to spread widely. This can even be fatal in some cases. The reasons for the bacterial growth in the presence of a coinfection by influenza virus and bacteria is still debatable.

  • Körpereigene Nanopartikel als Transporter für Antibiotika

    Dr. Gregor Fuhrmann vom Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland (HIPS). G. Fuhrmann

    Neue BMBF-Nachwuchsgruppe um Gregor Fuhrmann erforscht, wie Medikamente gezielt zu Krankheitserregern im Körper geschleust werden können. Bakterien entwickeln zunehmend Resistenzen gegen die gängig eingesetzten Antibiotika – unter anderem als Folge der übermäßigen und zum Teil falschen Anwendung der Medikamente. Zudem haben Antibiotika häufig unangenehme Nebenwirkungen, da sie auch nützliche Bakterien abtöten. Der Pharmazeut Dr. Gregor Fuhrmann, Wissenschaftler am Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland (HIPS), möchte eine Technologie entwickeln, mit der Antibiotika im Körper gezielt zu den krankmachenden Bakterien transportiert werden.

  • Microbe hunters discover long-sought-after iron-munching microbe

    One of the bioreactors, in which he and his colleagues found the rust-munching microbes. Boran Kartal

    A microbe that ‘eats’ both methane and iron: microbiologists have long suspected its existence, but were not able to find it - until now. Researchers at Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen discovered a microorganism that couples the reduction of iron to methane oxidation, and could thus be relevant in controlling greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

  • Multiple Sklerose: Neu entdeckter Signalmechanismus macht T-Zellen pathogen

    Die dendritische Zelle und die T-Zelle bei der Clusterbildung (rechts im Bild); Prof. Dr. Thomas Korn (Technische Universität München)

    Folgenschwere Instruktionen: T-Zellen sind ein wichtiger Teil des Immunsystems. Sie können aber nicht nur Krankheitserreger ausschalten, sondern auch selbst zu einer Gefahr werden. Forscherinnen und Forscher der Technischen Universität München (TUM) und der Universitätsmedizin Mainz haben herausgefunden, wann bestimmte T-Zellen zu krankheitserregenden T-Zellen werden, die mit Multipler Sklerose in Verbindung gebracht werden. Die Ergebnisse erklären, warum bestimmte Behandlungsansätze nicht zuverlässig wirken. Sie sind in der aktuellen Ausgabe von „nature immunology“ veröffentlicht.

  • Nanofarbriken zum Schutz vor bakterieller Besiedlung

    Prof. Dr. Sebastian Polarz.

    Forschungspreis der Dr. Karl Helmut Eberle-Stiftung vergibt 300.000 Euro Fördermittel an der Universität Konstanz für das Jahr 2016. Die Dr. Karl Helmut Eberle-Stiftung vergibt erstmals ihren Preis für herausragende wissenschaftliche Vorhaben an Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler der Universität Konstanz. Die im Jahr 2016 mit 300.000 Euro dotierte Auszeichnung erhalten der Chemiker Prof. Dr. Sebastian Polarz und der Biologe PD Dr. David Schleheck für ein gemeinsames interdisziplinäres Projekt zum Schutz vor bakterieller Besiedelung auf Oberflächen. Dazu werden sie sogenannte Nanofabriken entwickeln.

  • New chemistry of life

    Lung tissue during legionellosis.

    FRANKFURT. The attachment of ubiquitin was long considered as giving the „kiss of death“, labelling superfluous proteins for disposal within a cell. However, by now it has been well established that ubiquitin fulfils numerous additional duties in cellular signal transduction. A team of scientists under the lead of Ivan Dikic, Director of the Institute of Biochemistry II at Goethe University Frankfurt, has now discovered a novel mechanism of ubiquitination, by which Legionella bacteria can seize control over their host cells. Legionella causes deadly pneumonia in immunocompromised patients. A novel ubiquitination mechanism explains pathogenic effects of Legionella infection. First results hint towards a broader role in regulating many life processes.

  • New procedure for producing safe and more effective vaccines

    Foto Fraunhofer FEP

    A consortium of four Fraunhofer Institutes (the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB) is developing a way of inactivating viruses and other pathogens based on low energy electron irradiation. This may aid the manufacture of more effective, safe and also more cost-effective vaccines.

  • Peptides vs. superbugs

    An X-ray capillary that is being filled in order to analyze the nanostructure of the shuttle system. Empa

    Several peptides have an antibacterial effect - but they are broken down in the human body too quickly to exert this effect. Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) researchers have now succeeded in encasing peptides in a protective coat, which could prolong their life in the human body. This is an important breakthrough because peptides are considered to be a possible solution in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They occur in many organisms and constitute natural weapons against bacteria in the body, being known as antimicrobial peptides.

  • Personalized antibiotic treatment

    The electrochemical biosensor system for point-of-care testing. Photo: Andreas Weltin

    Researchers from Freiburg have developed a sensor platform that quantifies antibiotics in human blood within minutes. A team of researchers from the University of Freiburg has developed a system inspired by biology that can detect several different antibiotics in human blood or other fluids at the same time. This biosensor system could be used for medical diagnostics in the future, especially for point-of-care testing in doctors’ practices, on house calls and in pharmacies, as well as in environmental and food safety testing. The researchers focused their study on the antibiotics tetracycline and streptogramin in human blood.

  • Regulatory molecules: third RNA binding protein identified

    The bacterial RNA universe: The structures of the different regulatory RNA molecules are shown left, their preferred protein binding partners on the right. (Picture: Alexandre Smirnov)

    Pathogenic bacteria use small RNA molecules to adapt to their environment. Infection researchers from Würzburg have now pinpointed a protein involved in regulating the activity of these molecules.

  • Use of bacteria to produce valuable substances from carbon dioxide

    Ball-and-stick model of the carbon dioxide molecule, one of the most important chemical compounds in the world - vital for life as we know it, but catastrophic at excess levels. Colour code: Carbon, C: black Oxygen, O: red

    Goethe University Frankfurt coordinates European two million Euro project. Microbes are already used on a wide scale for the production of fuels and base chemicals, but for this most of them have to be “fed” with sugar. However, since sugar-based biotechnology finds itself in competition with food production, it is faced with increasingly fierce criticism. Carbon dioxide has meanwhile become the focus of attention as an alternative raw material for biotechnological processes. Goethe University Frankfurt has now taken charge of a collaborative European project, the aim of which is to advance the development of processes for microbial, CO2-based biotechnology. The project will be funded over the next three years with € 2 million.