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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Virus-bacteria coevolution solves diversity paradox by 'Killing the Winner'

There is remarkable biodiversity in all but the most extreme ecosystems on Earth. When many species are competing for the same finite resource, a theory called competitive exclusion suggests one species will outperform the others and drive them to extinction, limiting biodiversity. But this isn’t what we observe in nature. Theoretical models of population dynamics have not presented a fully satisfactory explanation for what has come to be known as the diversity paradox.

Study reveals how bacteria steal nutrients from human hosts

A new study, published in mBio, exposes a zinc-import system in bacteria that could contribute to their ability to cause infection.

The study looked at how the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which can infect virtually all of the tissues in the human body, competes with the immune system for the essential nutrient zinc.

Slowing dangerous bacteria may be more effective than killing them

Researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered a mechanism that allows bacteria of the same species to communicate when their survival is threatened. The study suggests that it may be possible to slow dangerous infections by manipulating the messages these microbes send to each other, allowing the body to defeat an infection without causing the bacteria to develop resistance to the treatment.

From the Depths of A Microscopic World, Spontaneous Cooperation

Maybe it’s not such a dog-eat-dog world after all. A clever combination of two different types of computer simulations enabled a group of Illinois researchers to uncover an unexpectedly cooperative group dynamic: the spontaneous emergence of resource sharing among individuals in a community.  Who were the members of this friendly, digitally represented collective?  Escherichia coli, rod-shaped bacteria found in the digestive systems of humans and many other animals.

Innovative Technique Transforms Hunt for Antibiotics and Cancer Therapies

Innovative Technique May Transform the Hunt for New Antibiotics and Cancer Therapies

Antibiotic resistance is depleting our arsenal against deadly diseases and infections, such as tuberculosis and Staph infections, but recent research shows promise to speed up the drug discovery process.

In a study reported in ACS Chemical Biology, University of Illinois researchers developed a new technique to quickly uncover novel, medically relevant products produced by bacteria.

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