An unlikely new weapon against deadly bacteria in oysers: A virus

People looking forward to eating raw oysters over the holidays will welcome news that scientists are making progress in the fight against a rare but deadly disease associated with the tasty bivalves. Two Florida researchers report curing mice of the disease by using a virus to attack its bacterial source – Vibrio vulnificus. The scientists say the research may lead to techniques to purify oysters after harvest but before they reach raw bars and seafood markets – and might one day result in a better cure for the disease in people. The work, reported in a November article in the journal Infection and Immunity, is part of a growing trend in research to use bacteria-attacking viruses, or “phages,” to cure diseases caused by bacteria.

Picky microbe could aid environmental cleanup

Michigan researchers have found an elusive microbe whose pickiness could be key to the cleanup of a common type of environmental toxin. The researchers report the discovery of a microbe dredged from the bottom of the Hudson River that has an insatiable appetite to break down the environmental pollutant TCA. That means the bacterium shows promise as the missing piece of the puzzle to clean up soil and groundwater contaminated by multiple chlorinated solvents.

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