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Media about microbes in us, our homes and our gardens is becoming ever more plentiful. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about how these incredible organisms support our daily life and how we can best live in balance with them for our health and the health of the planet.

Gut Bacteria’s Role in Anxiety and Depression: It’s Not Just In Your Head

Mounting evidence suggests that intestinal microbes profoundly shape our thinking and behaviour. Human trials are now underway to investigate how these microbes boost our overall well-being. If the results hold up, new bacteria-based therapies could expand a mental health treatment landscape that has been mostly stagnant for decades.

Scientists Discover Exposed Bacteria Can Survive in Space for Years

Smithsonion, Max G. Levy

Framed by an infinite backdrop of dark, lifeless space, a robotic arm on the International Space Station in 2015 mounted a box of exposed microbes on a handrail 250 miles above Earth. The hearty bacteria had no protection from an onslaught of cosmic ultraviolet, gamma, and x-rays. Back on Earth, scientists wondered whether the germs might survive these conditions for up to three years, the length of the experiment, and if they did, what the results might tell the researchers about the ability of life to travel between planets. Read more.

Climate warming is altering animals’ gut microbes

The Conversation, Sasha Greenspan

It seems like each day scientists report more dire consequences of climate change on animals and plants worldwide. Birds that are migrating later in the year can’t find enough food. Plants are flowering before their insect pollinators hatch. Prey species have less stamina to escape predators. In short, climatic shifts that affect one organism are likely to trigger ripple effects that can disturb the structure and functioning of entire ecosystems.

Read more.

The microbiome: How gut bacteria regulate our health

NewScientist, Reginald Davey

Our bodies contain almost as many microbial cells as human cells. This community of organisms is called the microbiome, and we are increasingly learning what a huge role they play in all aspects of our health.

Research has shown that having a diverse microbiome – particularly your gut bacteria – has benefits not only for your digestive health, but many other organ systems, and even your brain. That has led to the idea that treatments targeting the microbiome may be able to improve our mental health. Read more.

The Use of Microbes in Food

News Medical, Reginald Davey

Humans have long been innovative species. As we have observed natural processes and phenomena, our curiosity has been a driving force behind our progress. We have experimented with natural ingredients to create a multitude of food that we consume today. This article will discuss the history and current trends of microbial use in the food industry. Read more.

We’re using microbes to clean up toxic electronic waste

The Conversation, Sebastien Farnaud

Bioleaching has existed as a solution to these problems as far back as the era of the Roman Empire. The modern mining industry has relied on it for decades, using microbes – mainly bacteria, but also some fungi – to extract metals from ores.

Microorganisms chemically modify the metal, setting it free from the surrounding rock and allowing it to dissolve in a microbial soup, from which the metal can be isolated and purified. Read more.

A new tool for modelling the human gut microbiome

MIT News, Anne Trafton

Several thousand strains of bacteria live in the human gut. Some of these are associated with disease, while others have beneficial effects on human health. Figuring out the precise role of each of these bacteria can be difficult, because many of them can’t be grown in lab studies using human tissue. Read more.

Scientists successfully revive 100m-year-old microbes from the sea

The Guardian

Scientists have successfully revived microbes that had lain dormant at the bottom of the sea since the age of the dinosaurs, allowing the organisms to eat and even multiply after eons in the deep.

Their research sheds light on the remarkable survival power of some of Earth’s most primitive species, which can exist for tens of millions of years with barely any oxygen or food before springing back to life in the lab. Read more.

How planets and microbes interact and adapt

The University of Kansas, Brendan M. Lynch

Researchers from the University of Kansas and the University of Nottingham plan to investigate interactions between plants and the microbes on which they depend. In work that could inform agricultural practices around the world, the team will focus on how the relationship between plants and microbes responds to drought conditions. Read more.

Bacteria and viruses are travelling the world on highways in the sky

The Conversation, Predrag Slijepcevic

Microbes are the truly dominant group of lifeforms. These invisible pieces of biogenic matter have been running Earth’s affairs for billions of years. Plants and animals popped up as the by-products of microbial mergers relatively recently in our planet’s history. Read more.

A New Look at Deep-Sea Microbes

University of Delaware

Microbial cells are found in abundance in marine sediments beneath the ocean and make up a significant amount of the total microbial biomass on the planet. Microbes found deeper in the ocean, such as in hydrocarbon seeps, are usually believed to have slow population turnover rates and low amounts of available energy, where the further down a microbe is found, the less energy it has available. Read more.

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