An international team of researchers has identified genetic traits that appear to have enabled individuals to survive the Black Death, a bubonic plague pandemic that swept across northern Africa and Eurasia in the mid-fourteenth century. Although these genetic variations were beneficial in surviving a plague that killed nearly half of
[The body of this article wound up going missing at some point, leaving the posting empty. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. ~Matt] Microbiologists have discovered what is now known as the world’s largest bacterium, a single-celled organism large enough to be seen with the naked eye,
The highly adaptable nature of viruses is one of their most dangerous strengths. They are programmed to survive at all costs, mutating into different forms that often make the leap between different species. The infamous Ebola virus, which has infected almost 15,000 people in Africa this year, first evolved in monkeys and then evolved into a form which could be transmitted to humans.
Mammal to mammal transmission is not a huge leap to make, however, as the physiology involved is similar in each species. But could viruses that affect totally different life forms, such as algae, possibly evolve into a variety that could threaten humans?
We are constantly looking to preserve the world around us in order to make it a happier and healthier place, but for optimum health, it seems we need to look within.
We may not care to think about it, but we are never actually "alone": our gut plays host to around 100 trillion bacteria, or flora, at any one time, meaning that there are ten times more bacteria than cells in the human body. We are conditioned to be fearful of bacteria, and in some cases this is not without good reason, but not all bacteria are harmful; in fact our health depends on the activity of the "friendly" bacteria that live in synergistic harmony with us inside our intestines.