How Molecular Motors Harness the Power of Thermodynamic Fluctuations

By Mara Casebeer Just like a city has highways to transport goods and people from one area to another, your cells have their own set of highways to transport important components like proteins and genetic material. These cellular highways are called microtubules, and they are traversed not by trucks and cars, but by molecular motors – proteins that can carry cargo and step along microtubules … Continue reading How Molecular Motors Harness the Power of Thermodynamic Fluctuations

How this Long Bacterium Beats the Diffusion Limit

by Mara Casebeer Most bacteria, like the common E. coli, are around a micron in length – less than a tenth of the width of a strand of human hair and invisible without a microscope. Recently, scientists discovered a bacterium, Candidatus (Ca.) Thiomargarita magnifica, that is almost 10,000 times longer than E. coli. Ca. T. magnifica cells were found attached to sunken leaves in the … Continue reading How this Long Bacterium Beats the Diffusion Limit

The Human-Tuberculosis Arms Race

by Sanjana Kulkarnifigures by Corena Loeb The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) has been infecting humans for thousands of years. Today, TB, which is thought to have originated in Africa and evolved alongside human hosts, is found across the globe and causes 1-2 million deaths annually, making it the second leading infectious disease killer after COVID-19. As new COVID-19 variants keep emerging, we can observe the … Continue reading The Human-Tuberculosis Arms Race

Antibiotic Persistence and Resistance

by Molly Sargen Antibiotics are drugs that kill or inhibit the growth of microbes, including bacteria and fungi. These drugs work by blocking essential processes like protein production, DNA replication, and cell division. After Alexander Fleming’s serendipitous discovery of Penicillin, antibiotics became a central feature of medical care. Today, antibiotics are used to treat a wide variety of infections and prevent new infections during invasive … Continue reading Antibiotic Persistence and Resistance

Mapping Individual Microbes among the Multitudes

by Sophia Swartzfigures by Jasmin Joseph-Chazan If you put all of the living things on Earth in a box–from humans to anteaters to teeny-tiny tardigrades–and then plucked one of these organisms out at random, it is very, very likely that you just found yourself a microbe. Microbes, although too small to be seen with the naked eye, are some of the most common forms of … Continue reading Mapping Individual Microbes among the Multitudes

Trps of the Trade: Underneath the efficient biology of the tryptophan operon

by Edward Chenfigures by Corena Loeb Within any biological system, interactions abound. Organisms, cells, and individual molecules all affect the world in their own way, whether that’s caribou grazing, immune cells patrolling, or caffeine binding to neuronal receptors These infinitely many events and processes together form the networks that shape life. Within these networks, the effect of a process sometimes dampens down the process itself—we … Continue reading Trps of the Trade: Underneath the efficient biology of the tryptophan operon