Bacteria and Algae Get Rides in Clouds

Human health and ecosystems could be affected by microbes including cyanobacteria and algae that hitch rides in clouds and enter soil, lakes, oceans and other environments when it rains, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.

Science Snapshots From Berkeley Lab

These news briefs cover topics including gut microbes, tsetse flies in 3D, an energy use framework for heating and cooling, and new gravitational lensing candidates.

Greenland Melting Likely Increased by Bacteria in Sediment

Bacteria are likely triggering greater melting on the Greenland ice sheet, possibly increasing the island’s contribution to sea-level rise, according to Rutgers scientists. That’s because the microbes cause sunlight-absorbing sediment to clump together and accumulate in the meltwater streams, according to a Rutgers-led study – the first of its kind – in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The findings can be incorporated in climate models, leading to more accurate predictions of melting, scientists say.

Antibiotics for C-sections Effective After Umbilical Cord Clamped

Antibiotics for cesarean section births are just as effective when they’re given after the umbilical cord is clamped as before clamping – the current practice – and could benefit newborns’ developing microbiomes, according to Rutgers co-authored research. The study, by far the largest of its kind and published in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control, challenges current recommendations for antibiotic use. Administering antibiotics after clamping does not increase the risk of infection at the site of C-section incisions, the study concludes.

Wildfire smoke carry microbes that can cause infectious diseases

Wildfire smoke contains microbes, infectious agents that might cause diseases. In a perspective piece published in Science, researchers at UC Davis Health and the University of Idaho proposed a multidisciplinary approach to study the health impacts of microbes carried by wildfire smokes.

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Science and Benefits of Handwashing in COVID-19 Era

New Brunswick, N.J. (Nov. 23, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Donald W. Schaffner, a food microbiologist who has also studied handwashing for more than 20 years, is available for interviews on the science and benefits of handwashing during the COVID-19 pandemic and overall.…

Gut Microbiome Manipulation Could Result from Virus Discovery

Scientists have discovered how a common virus in the human gut infects and takes over bacterial cells – a finding that could be used to control the composition of the gut microbiome, which is important for human health. The Rutgers co-authored research, which could aid efforts to engineer beneficial bacteria that produce medicines and fuels and clean up pollutants, is published in the journal Nature.

Microbe “Rewiring” Technique Promises a Boom in Biomanufacturing

Berkeley Lab researchers have achieved unprecedented success in modifying a microbe to efficiently produce a compound of interest using a computational model and CRISPR-based gene editing. Their approach could dramatically speed up the research and development phase for new biomanufacturing processes, getting advanced bio-based products, such as sustainable fuels and plastic alternatives, on the shelves faster.

Bat Tick Found for the First Time in New Jersey

A tick species associated with bats has been reported for the first time in New Jersey and could pose health risks to people, pets and livestock, according to a Rutgers-led study in the Journal of Medical Entomology. This species (Carios kelleyi) is a “soft” tick. Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, are an example of “hard” ticks.

Bacteria Can Defuse Dangerous Chemical In Passaic River

Bacteria that can help defuse highly toxic dioxin in sediments in the Passaic River – a Superfund hazardous waste site – could eventually aid cleanup efforts at other dioxin-contaminated sites around the world, according to Rutgers scientists. Their research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, needs further work to realize the full potential of the beneficial bottom-dwelling microbes.

Harmful Microbes Found on Sewer Pipe Walls

Can antibiotic-resistant bacteria escape from sewers into waterways and cause a disease outbreak? A new Rutgers study, published in the journal Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, examined the microbe-laden “biofilms” that cling to sewer walls, and even built a simulated sewer to study the germs that survive within.

Rutgers Experts Available to Discuss Environmental Protection During COVID-19 Crisis

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 15, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick professors Nicole Fahrenfeld and John Reinfelder are available for interviews on environmental protection issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fahrenfeld can discuss issues including microbial water quality, sewer issues (including what…

After Turning Microorganisms Into Art, Student Helps NASA Study Origins of Life Through Algae (Video)

Rutgers student Julia Van Etten, whose @Couch_Microscopy Instagram page garnered more than 25,000 followers by showcasing microorganisms as art, is now working with NASA on research into how red algae can help explain the origins of life on Earth.

New Portable Tool Analyzes Microbes in the Environment

Imagine a device that could swiftly analyze microbes in oceans and other aquatic environments, revealing the health of these organisms – too tiny to be seen by the naked eye – and their response to threats to their ecosystems. Rutgers researchers have created just such a tool, a portable device that could be used to assess microbes, screen for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and analyze algae that live in coral reefs. Their work is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

‘Are Noncommunicable Diseases Communicable?’ Rutgers Experts Available to Discuss Paper in Science Today

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 16, 2020) – Rutgers professors Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello and Martin J. Blaser are available to discuss a paper in the journal Science today on whether diseases long thought to be noncommunicable – such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer…

How to Make it Easier to Turn Plant Waste into Biofuels

Researchers have developed a new process that could make it much cheaper to produce biofuels such as ethanol from plant waste and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Their approach, featuring an ammonia-salt based solvent that rapidly turns plant fibers into sugars needed to make ethanol, works well at close to room temperature, unlike conventional processes, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Green Chemistry.