Tag: Bacteria

The Neanderthal Cookbook

It’s not quite waffles and paella, but it appears that Neanderthals were omnivores who adapted to eating whatever was available to them in the regions where they lived. DNA samples extracted from ancient plaque on teeth found in a cave in Belgium and from those found at a site in Northern Spain indicate ...

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Is Autoimmunity a Result of Genetic Adaptation to Pathogens?

Pinworms—small worms that infect the intestines—are the most common worm infection in the United States. Although all people are over 99.9% genetically identical, the small amount of diversity that does exist between individuals tends to track with ethnicity. This is probably pretty obvious—an individual of ...

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SNPwatch: Genetic Association Study of Leprosy Yields New Insights into an Ancient Disease

Leprosy is a chronic, disabling disease caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium leprae) that infects only humans and armadillos. The disease affects the skin and peripheral nerves, leading to sores, numbness in the limbs, muscle weakness, and, in severe cases, disfiguring nodules on the skin. Known since ...

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Bugs in Your Mouth: Yours Isn’t the Only DNA Floating Around in that Spit Sample

Each of us is made up of about 50 trillion cells, which is pretty mind-blowing until you consider the number of microbial cells living on or in each of us.  It’s estimated that a healthy adult is lugging around 10 times more bugs, most of them bacteria, than human cells. Just as the tiny differences we ...

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Thinking Outside the Box: Bacterial Genetics and the Peopling of the Pacific

Not all bacteria are bad.  Sure, there are plenty of nasty bugs that can make life pretty unpleasant; the ones that cause leprosy, anthrax, and cholera immediately come to mind. But there are also plenty of beneficial bacteria living inside of us that we may not even know about. Some of them help us ...

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