Category Archives: Animal Gate

Are amoebae safe harbors for plague?

Amoebae, single-celled organisms common in soil, water and grade-school science classrooms, may play a key role in the survival and spread of deadly plague bacteria. New research shows that plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis, not only survive, but thrive and replicate once ingested by an amoeba. The discovery could help scientists understand why plague outbreaks can smolder, stay dormant for years, and re-emerge with a vengeance.

Memory loss from West Nile virus may be preventable

More than 10,000 people in the United States are living with memory loss and other persistent neurological problems that occur after West Nile virus infects the brain. Now, a new study in mice suggests that such ongoing neurological deficits may be due to unresolved inflammation that hinders the brain’s ability to repair damaged neurons and grow new ones. When the inflammation was reduced by treatment with an arthritis drug, the animals’ ability to learn and remember remained sharp after West Nile disease.

Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered

Roughly 10 percent of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms contain the genetic code for manufacturing a back-up enzyme, called iron iron-only nitrogenase, to do their job. New research reveals that this enzyme allows these microorganisms to convert nitrogen gas to ammonia and carbon dioxide into methane at the same time. This enzymatic pathway is a previously unknown route for the natural biological production of methane.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world — creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines — and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant to many antifungals, meaning once a person is infected, there are limited treatment options. But researchers have now confirmed a new drug compound kills drug-resistant C. auris, both in the laboratory and in a mouse model that mimics human infection.