Did Microbes Cause The Earth's Most Devastating Mass Extinction?

A little over 250 million years ago, our planet experienced a mass extinction the likes of which have never been seen before or since. About 90% of all species were suddenly wiped out. And new study suggests it wasn't caused by an asteroid or super-volcano — but rather methane-spewing microbes. » 3/31/14 12:00pm 3/31/14 12:00pm

Is it really worth having your gut bacteria tested?

How much can you learn about your health from a dab of poop or a swab from your skin or mouth? With various scientific researchers offering to test your microbiome for a fee, it's natural to be curious about the trillions of microbes living in your body. But is it worthwhile to get tested yourself, and what can current … » 1/23/14 11:00am 1/23/14 11:00am

7 Foods and Beverages Made Using Ingredients from the Human Body

While eating human flesh may be the ultimate taboo, human microbes, saliva, and even hair have been integral to the making of certain food and beverages. From traditional brews to culinary concept art, here are seven edibles that started, in part, inside the human body. » 12/25/13 10:00am 12/25/13 10:00am

Psychedelic Images of Terrifying Viruses

We're living in a strange world, barely protected against the infectious, replicating agents called viruses. They may have gruesome effects on our bodies, but these viruses' microscopic world looks beautiful from close up — especially because researchers often add color to the images in order to study them… » 12/04/13 3:33pm 12/04/13 3:33pm

Here's why wine snobs should probably be called bacteria snobs

Differences in wine quality between vineyards have long been attributed to processing techniques and seasonal variation. But research now suggests that regional differences between wines are shaped by microbes — specifically, fungi and bacteria. Cultivating certain grape microbes may actually improve wine flavor. » 11/26/13 12:38pm 11/26/13 12:38pm

Holiday Pop Quiz: Metal Band or Microbe?

It's time to test your scientific acumen — or your knowledge of a very specific musical subculture. Plenty of microbes have seriously badass names. Lots of metal bands have names that sound like weird microbial diseases. Can you tell the difference between Thergothon and Eperythrozoon? Take our quiz! » 12/25/12 12:00pm 12/25/12 12:00pm

What does cheese made from armpit and nose bacteria smell like?

We've already established that cheese-making is a pretty disgusting process, what with the traditional process of deriving enzymes from calf bile. But one group of researchers has tried getting the bacteria necessary for the cheese-making process from an even more unusual source: the human body. They've explored the… » 12/02/12 9:00am 12/02/12 9:00am

Rise in allergies has nothing to do with exposure to disease

Back in the late 1980s, scientists suggested that the sudden spike in allergy sufferers was the result of living in sterile homes and overzealous hygiene practices. Our immune systems, went the thinking, weren't being exposed to potentially important infections. A recent report, however, indicates that this "Hygiene… » 10/03/12 9:40am 10/03/12 9:40am

Why look for life on Mars when you can make life on Mars?

Biologists who study extremophiles are dramatically expanding our sense of just how amazingly resilient microorganisms can be — insights that have serious implications in our search for extraterrestrial life. At the same time, these hardy microbes are also inspiring synthetic biologists to create their own strains of… » 8/09/12 12:00pm 8/09/12 12:00pm

Check out every single kind of microbe in your body online — all 5…

The initial phase of the Human Microbiome Project has come to an end — and with it, the mapping of the full community of microbes that inhabit all the various nooks and crannies of the healthy human body. The results of the exhaustive study will be published as a collection in PLoS, making their findings available to… » 6/14/12 11:40am 6/14/12 11:40am

10 Surprising Things That Bacteria Like to Eat

You've probably heard of necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria. But bacteria do not actually eat human flesh. They're actually trying to gobble up something a lot weirder. Here are ten of the stranger things bacteria naturally (and unnaturally) eat. You'll never look at dirty underwear the same way … » 5/24/12 10:00am 5/24/12 10:00am

This microbe could become the "off" switch for biological machines

In the Victorian era people marveled at what could be done by mixing and matching mechanical parts like the wheel, the magnet, the lever, and the piston. Today we mix and match biological parts like the gene, the enzyme, and the organ. Take a look at a new biological part that gives a microbe an 'off' switch. » 4/17/12 12:35pm 4/17/12 12:35pm

Help these scientists find out which microbes live in your couch

What kind of organisms grow in your couch? Are they the same species as those living on someone's door frame couple hundred miles away? A new citizen science project, The Wild Life of Your Home, is being funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University. » 10/17/11 12:30pm 10/17/11 12:30pm

Uncovering the hidden lake buried two miles beneath Antarctica

There are hundreds of subglacial lakes buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice, each one completely isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of thousands of years. And now, scientists are preparing to find out just what's down there. » 10/10/11 4:00pm 10/10/11 4:00pm