Learning the language of bacteria

MADISON — Bacteria are among the simplest organisms in nature, but many of them can still talk to each other, using a chemical “language” that is critical to the process of infection. Sending and receiving chemical signals allows bacteria to mind…

Scientists Discover How Hydrogen-Making Bacteria Thrive with Cyanide

An Arizona chemist and colleagues from Munich, Germany, have discovered how microbes avoid being poisoned by the cyanide and carbon monoxide compounds they make and incorporate into enzymes. The bacteria use the enzymes to turn water into hydrogen for energy. Bacteria with this remarkable ability have long been widely dismissed as one of Mother Nature’s interesting, if largely useless and unimportant, oddities.

Sh*t a brick

Taiwanese researchers say they’ve crafted a win-win situation in the discovery that sewage sludge can be used to bulk up construction bricks. The bio-bricks contain up to 30 percent sludge, which can come from either industrial slurry or the, er, human waste stream. Because the bricks are kiln-fired at 900C, all bacteria and viruses are destroyed. Plus the process seals in any heavy metals that might be present. Best of all, the researchers say, the bricks don’t smell at all. The team behind the discovery admits that people might need some convincing to live in such intimate contact with their past meals, noting that legal approval and public acceptance remain to be sought.

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