Microbiology

Neurophilosophy

Category archives for Microbiology

THE human gut contains a diverse community of bacteria which colonize the large intestine in the days following birth and vastly outnumber our own cells. These intestinal microflora constitute a virtual organ within an organ and influence many bodily functions. Among other things, they aid in the uptake and metabolism of nutrients, modulate the inflammatory…

A dead ant infected with a parasitic Cordyceps fungus (David P. Hughes). A team of entomologists working in the Brazilian rain forest has discovered four new species of parasitic Cordyceps fungi, which infect insects and manipulate the behaviour of their hosts in order to disperse their spores as widely as possible. The modus operandi of…

Removal of a parasitic worm from the brain

Fox 10 News has a rather gruesome story about the removal of a live parasitic worm from a woman’s brain, which is accompanied by a film clip  containing footage of the surgical procedure. As the film explains, the woman, who lives in Arizona, first started to experience flu-like symptoms, followed by numbness in her left…

Rabid brain circuits

The brain is an organ of staggering complexity, consisting of hundreds of billions of cells (and tens of thousands of different cell types) which form millions of specialized circuits that are organized into thousands of discrete areas. Neuroscientists have a number of methods for investigating brain circuitry and the connectivity of neurons within circuits. One…

“Brain-eating” amoeba kills 6

Over the past few days, there have been numerous scary news stories about a “brain-eating” amoeba that has killed six boys and young men this year (three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona, the most recent case being that of 14-year-old Aaron Evans, who died on September 17th). The amoeba in question…

HIV causes dementia by inhibiting neurogenesis

A significant proportion of people with HIV/ AIDS develop neurological symptoms, such as impaired co-ordination, personality changes, deficits in learning and memory, and mania and depression. HIV-associated dementia is difficult to treat; although highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) has led to improved prognoses for patients, these drugs do not effectively penetrate the blood brain barrier.…

Brainwashed by a parasite

(From the Gilbert Lab at the University of Texas) This carpenter ant (genus Campanotus), and the bullet ant in the first film clip below (Paraponera clavata), have fallen victim to parasitic fungi of the genus Cordyceps, which manipulate the behaviour of their host in order to increase their own chances of reproducing. The spores of…

From the BBC: Microbes locked in Antarctic ice for as much as eight million years have been “resuscitated” in a laboratory. Researchers melted five samples of ice from the debris-covered glaciers of Antarctica which range in age from 100,000 years to eight million years. When given nutrients and warmth, the microbes resumed their activity –…