Bacterial Conversion of CO2 to Lipids: A Sustainable Fuel Source

by Sam Zuniga-Levy ’19 As fossil fuel reserves decline while atmospheric CO2 levels rise, the search for methods of obtaining sustainable sources of energy continually attracts the spotlight. The two primary criteria for assessing the sustainability of fuels are that they 1) are renewable and 2) produce minimal (if any) greenhouse gas emissions. A recent … Read moreBacterial Conversion of CO2 to Lipids: A Sustainable Fuel Source

“Wolf Pack” and “Vampire” Bacteria: The Secret Life of Predatory Microbes

By Hannah Steinberg ’16 Have you ever wondered what bacteria eat? The answer to this question is as diverse as the bacterial kingdom itself. Bacterial species absorb nutrients from their surrounding environments. Many microbes that live in the ground get what they need to survive from organic molecules found in the soil, and the commensal … Read more“Wolf Pack” and “Vampire” Bacteria: The Secret Life of Predatory Microbes

Yellowstone: Life, Literature, and the Persuit of Thermophiles

During one hot summer a little more than a century ago, the Great Fire of 1910 ripped through and burned over 3 million acres in Montana and Idaho, killing 86 people in its path. Mixed with humans’ natural aversion toward large fires, the Great Fire fueled the ideology that all forest fires in the West … Read moreYellowstone: Life, Literature, and the Persuit of Thermophiles

Recombination Does Not Hinder Prokaryotic Speciation

The biological species concept has dominated thinking about the origin of species since the 1940s, owing to the influential work of Ernst Mayr. The central idea behind the BSC is that recurrent recombination prevents populations from diverging into new species that are irreversibly separate; therefore, genetic exchange between populations must be severely reduced before they … Read moreRecombination Does Not Hinder Prokaryotic Speciation

The (rare!!) brain-eating amoeba in warm ponds

  Here I’m trying once again to offer tales from microbial ecology to make swimmers’ and divers’ lives better. As an open-water swimming enthusiast, I was particularly intrigued by this article on an amoeba that people can get from swimming in nature, particularly in warm water. This tale made me grateful that my open-water swimming … Read moreThe (rare!!) brain-eating amoeba in warm ponds

The Microbes We Should Be Thankful For

Thomas Kim, Wesleyan class of 2016 Antibiotics have prevented deadly pathogens from killing us for many decades now. However, widespread abuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance in our pathogens, causing at least 2 million deaths per year. Moreover, the repercussions of antibiotic abuse appear to go way beyond resistance. In his book Missing … Read moreThe Microbes We Should Be Thankful For