Bacteria Powered Lightbulb

Bacteria, Not Electricity, Powers This Light Bulb

by Mary Mazzoni
Published on December 5th, 2011

Philips, electronics, bio light, bacteria, light, lampThis futuristic combination of glass, steel and bioluminescent bacteria could be the future of home lighting. Photo: Philips

We’ve all heard of energy efficient lighting, but how about lighting that requires no electricity at all? Dutch electronics company Philips is testing a futuristic lighting technology powered solely by recycled household waste and live bacterial culture.

While inviting bacteria into your home may sound a little icky, the company’s “bio-light” harnesses the power of microorganisms to provide soft, cozy lighting for any room of the house without using a watt of electricity – making the whole idea sound more green than gross.

The test probe is comprised of a wall of glass cells containing bioluminescent bacteria that naturally produce light in a manner similar to fireflies. The bacteria cast a warm green glow when fed methane gas, which, in the test model, is pumped into the lighting system from a household waste digester.

“Energy-saving light bulbs will only take us so far,” said Clive van Heerden, senior director of design-led innovation at Philips Design. “We need to push ourselves to rethink domestic appliances entirely, to rethink how homes consume energy and how entire communities can pool resources.”

Part of the company’s Microbial Home project – a science fiction-like vision of a household ecosystem that uses bacteria to rethink energy, cleaning, food preservation, lighting and human waste – the bio-light could potentially be self-energizing and self-repairing, the company said.

“In [the Microbial Home] project the home has been viewed as a biological machine to filter, process and recycle what we conventionally think of as waste – sewage, effluent, garbage and waste water,” the company said.

In addition to home lighting, bio-light technology could potentially be used for nighttime road markings, warning strips on stairs and curbsides, diagnostic indicators for local pollution levels and even biosensors for monitoring diseases like diabetes, the company said.

Philips said the bio-light is more suitable for mood-lighting than “functional illumination,” but researchers are intrigued by the prospect of energy-free light. The technology will continue to be tested as part of the Microbial Home project, the company said.


Cracking the Genome of the Black Death

Scientists crack Black Death’s genetic code

By Kate KellandPosted 2011/10/12 at 2:23 pm EDT

LONDON, Oct. 12, 2011 (Reuters) — Scientists have mapped out the entire genetic map of the Black Death, a 14th century bubonic plague that killed 50 million Europeans in one of the most devastating epidemics in history.

A Wayson stain of the Yersinia pestis bacterium, responsible for the plague that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351. REUTERS/CDC

The work, which involved extracting and purifying DNA from the remains of Black death victims buried in London’s “plague pits,” is the first time scientists have been able to draft a reconstructed genome of any ancient pathogen.

Their result — a full draft of the entire Black Death genome — should allow researchers to track changes in the disease’s evolution and virulence, and lead to better understanding of modern-day infectious diseases.

Building on previous research which showed that a specific variant of the Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis) bacterium was responsible for the plague that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351, a team of German, Canadian and American scientists went on to “capture” and sequence the entire genome of the disease.

“The genomic data show that this bacterial strain, or variant, is the ancestor of all modern plagues we have today worldwide. Every outbreak across the globe today stems from a descendant of the medieval plague,” said Hendrik Poinar, of Canada’s McMaster University, who worked with the team.

“With a better understanding of the evolution of this deadly pathogen, we are entering a new era of research into infectious disease.”

Major technical advances in DNA recovery and sequencing have dramatically expanded the scope of genetic analysis of ancient specimens, opening up new ways of trying to understand emerging and re-emerging infections.

Experts say the direct descendants of the same bubonic plague still exist today, killing around 2,000 people a year.

A virulent strain of E. coli bacteria which caused a deadly outbreak of infections in Germany and France earlier this year was also found to contain DNA sequences from plague bacteria.

to read more, go to:

Risks of Antibiotic Creams

 Flesh-Eating Bacteria’s Rise Tied to Antibiotic Cream

Joseph Brownstein, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor
Date: 14 September 2011 Time: 01:11 PM ET
Scanning electron microscopy of Staphylococcus epidermidis cluster.
CREDIT: Michael Otto/NIH

After getting a cut, many Americans will reach for a tube of over-the-counter antibiotic cream to ward off infection. But that widespread habit, a new paper suggests, may be contributing to the rise of one of the most concerning strains of drug-resistant bacteria.

Japanese researchers looked at 261 samples of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), including 21 samples of the USA300 strain, a type of MRSA that has gained attention for its spread, its frequent presence in the community as well as the hospital, and its link to necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease.

They found that while other MRSA strains were somewhat susceptible to some combination of the antibiotics bacitracin and neomycin — which are typically found in over-the-counter creams — only the USA300 strains were resistant to both. The authors said this may mean that overexposure to those antibiotics is what led to USA300’s resistance.

People should understand that triple antibiotic [ointment] is not almighty, and avoid preventive or excessive use of this ointment,” said study author Masahiro Suzuki, a bacteriologist at the Aichi Prefectural Institute of Public Health in Nagoya, Japan.

How the USA300 strain arose

The origin of the USA300 strain has remained unknown, in part because, unlike other MRSA strains, it appears to have evolved outside of hospitals.

“Over the past decade or so, it’s really emerged as the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections in the community,” said Dr. Henry Blumberg, a professor ofinfectious disease at Emory University who has studied USA300 at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

While other antibiotic-resistant bacteria arose in hospitals, where antibiotic use is common, and then spread out into communities, USA300 was first found in community infections, and spread from there.

“Now it’s causing hospital infections,” he said. “Now the lines are a little more blurry between the community and hospital.”

Because USA300 is in the community, a number of groups are particularly susceptible to the strain, including children, gay men, prison inmates, military recruits, tattoo recipients and athletes, the study said.

But Blumberg said, “I think we’re beyond that. These groups may have higher risk, but these things spread throughout the population.”

Suzuki similarly told MyHealthNewsDaily that “all USA residents have a risk for USA300 infections anytime and anywhere, and should be careful to keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered, avoid contact with other persons’ infected skin, wash hands frequently, avoid sharing personal items to minimize risk of infection.”

Are antibiotic creams to blame?

While he agreed the bacteria are a threat, Blumberg said he was somewhat skeptical of the authors’ hypothesis that over-the-counter ointments are driving the presence of USA300.

“They have a theory that use of topical, over-the-counter creams and antibiotics select this USA300 clone and that’s why it’s emerged,” Blumberg said. “They haven’t proved it.”

Blumberg said that he is hesitant about the theory because “from my experience, most of the patients we see haven’t used topical antibiotics.” But, he said, “I think it’s an interesting theory. It would be interesting to see if this was widespread in a bigger collection of USA300 isolates.”

While USA300 is resistant to a number of drugs, it remains treatable — for now.

to read more, go to:

It HAD to be in Texas!

End Times? Texas Lake Turns Blood-Red

Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 01 August 2011 Time: 05:31 PM ET
OC Fisher Reservoir


OC Fisher, a reservoir in West Texas, turned blood-red in recent weeks — what’s left of it anyway. Due to unrelenting drought in Texas, the lake has almost entirely dried up, leaving thousands of dead fish behind. As of the last week in July, when this photo was taken, bacteria had turned the stagnant dregs of the lake red.
CREDIT: Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries–San Angelo

A Texas lake that turned blood-red this summer may not be a sign of the End Times, but probably is the end of a popular fishing and recreation spot.

A drought has left the OC Fisher Reservoir in San Angelo State Park in West Texas almost entirely dry. The water that is left is stagnant, full of dead fish — and a deep, opaque red.

The color has some apocalypse believers suggesting that OC Fisher is an early sign of the end of the world, but Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries officials say the bloody look is the result of Chromatiaceae bacteria, which thrive in oxygen-deprived water.

for more, go to: