Blogs about biology

An Asgard archaeon of the proposed species Lokiarchaeum ossiferum

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports a study on archaea that belong to the proposed superphylum called Asgard and in particular on their characteristics that make them a possible evolutionary missing link with eukaryotes. A team of researchers formed by the collaboration of the working groups of Christa Schleper of the Austrian University of Vienna and Martin Pilhofer of ETH Zurich was successful in cultivating a species belonging to this group of microorganisms to study them in the laboratory. This allowed conducting thorough examinations of their cellular structures such as the extensive cytoskeleton.

Thiomargarita magnifica (Photo courtesy Jean-Marie Volland)

An article published in the journal “Science” reports the identification of a bacterium that can reach two centimeters in length, a size that is several thousand times larger than those of most bacteria. A team of researchers named it Thiomargarita magnifica after discovering it in the Guadeloupe archipelago in the Lesser Antilles. It took years to understand its nature because the size, gigantic for a bacterium, and some unusual characteristics for this type of organism initially suggested that it was a multicellular organism, perhaps a fungus.

An illustration of SeqScreen's workflow (A) and the machine learning training framework (B)

An article published in the journal “Genome Biology” reports the results of tests conducted with SeqScreen, a free / open source software developed to recognize genetic sequences existing in pathogenic microorganisms. A team of researchers led by computer scientist Todd Treangen of Rice University and genomics specialist Krista Ternus of the scientific consultancy firm Signature Science, LLC developed SeqScreen to analyze the characteristics of short DNA sequences often called oligonucleotides and improve the recognition techniques of sequences present in a sample that are at least potentially dangerous.

Superworm (Zophobas morio) larva

An article published in the journal “Microbial Genomics” reports the results of a study of the ability to digest polystyrene by the larvae of beetles belonging to the species Zophobas morio, commonly known as superworms, kingworms, or morio worms. A team of researchers from the Australian University of Queensland led by Chris Rinke used a metagenomic technique to analyze these larvae’s gut microbiome to find which microorganisms and in particular which genes are responsible for the digestion of polystyrene. The idea is to produce the enzymes needed to destroy the polystyrene waste in an ecological way.

Cyanobacteria of the species Prochlorococcus marinus

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” reports the results of a study on the origin of oxygenic photosynthesis. A team of researchers developed a new gene analysis technique to estimate the origin of cyanobacteria capable of oxygenic photosynthesis. The conclusion is that all the species of these cyanobacteria existing today have a common ancestor that dates back to about 2.9 billion years ago and that the ancestors of cyanobacteria branched off from other bacteria about 3.4 billion years ago. Oxygenic photosynthesis probably evolved during that time interval.