Taxonomy term


Tiny ocean bacteria could play big role in climate

In the 1990s, researchers identified the most abundant group of organisms in the ocean as Pelagibacterales, a class of free-living bacteria that live in surface waters as a microscopic but major part of the phytoplankton community. Now, a new study suggests that Pelagibacterales could play an important role in the global climate cycle by producing dimethylsulfide (DMS), an organosulfur compound that stimulates cloud formation when it gets into the atmosphere.

05 Sep 2016

Tree of life reshaped

Since the 1970s, the classic “tree of life” taught in classrooms has portrayed three domains of life — Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota — all descending from an unknown common ancestor. But behind the scenes, this textbook picture has been shifting. Many scientists now think the tree’s deepest root lies within the bacteria; and, even more recently, some have begun suspecting that the Eukaryota — including all animals, plants, fungi, slime molds and other organisms whose cells have nuclei — are actually an offshoot from the Archaea, paring the tree from three to two domains. Now, a new study furthers that claim, and with the help of a novel technique for parsing phylogenetic data in greater detail than ever before, suggests a revised backstory for the Archaea — and, by extension, us.
21 Oct 2015

Oil-encased water droplets are mini-ecosystems for microbes

Dark, sludgy oil may not seem like an environment suited to life. But microbes, known to make meals of such organic stews by breaking down large hydrocarbons to extract food and energy, have been found before in petroleum reservoirs. Now, in a new study, researchers report finding diverse communities of microorganisms living inside tiny water droplets in Pitch Lake, the world’s largest natural asphalt seep located on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The discovery may have implications for industry, scientists say, as well as for our understanding of extreme life.

30 Dec 2014

Antibacterial clays could fight superbugs

Clays with antibacterial properties found near Crater Lake in Oregon could eventually lead to new agents in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, according to a new study.

28 Dec 2014

Lofted by hurricanes, bacteria live the high life

With cold temperatures, low humidity and high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, conditions 10 kilometers above Earth’s surface may seem inhospitable. But next time you’re flying, consider this: The air outside your airplane window might be filled with an array of microscopic life that affects everything from weather and climate to the distribution of pathogens around the planet.

05 May 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Arsenic provides a G#ALA event in the science world

In reporting what’s new and exciting from the world of scientific and technological innovation, science writers are quick to use expressions like “Scientists say … ” and “According to researchers … ” (Mea culpa.) They are, after all, convenient devices to introduce the sentiments of some subset of the scientific community as opposed to one, or maybe several, individuals.

23 Jun 2011

Bacteria back from the brink

Thousand- and million-year-old microbes found living in salt crystals:  Could they also exist on other planets?

In 1993, “Jurassic Park” thrilled the world with the idea that dinosaurs could be resurrected from bits of DNA preserved in mosquitoes trapped in ancient amber. In the 18 years since the movie came out, scientists have been finding that parts of this scenario are closer to reality than anyone ever imagined.

07 Mar 2011