Genome of a major member of gut bacteria sequenced

Researchers have completed sequencing the genome of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, one of the most prevalent bacteria that live in the human intestine. “Now that the draft sequence of the human genome is complete, it’s critical that we study the environmental forces that regulate our gene expression,” says principal investigator Jeffrey I. Gordon. “Humans enjoy mutually beneficial relationships with billions of bacteria that live in our gut. Discovering how these microbes manipulate our biology to benefit themselves and us should provide new insights about the foundations of our health and new therapeutic strategies for preventing or treating various diseases.”

Quick action by astronomers leads to new insights on mysterious gamma-ray bursts

Scientists “arriving quickly on the scene” of an October 4 gamma-ray burst have announced that their rapid accumulation of data has provided new insights about this exotic astrophysical phenomenon. The researchers have seen, for the first time, ongoing energizing of the burst afterglow for more than half an hour after the initial explosion. The findings support the “collapsar” model, in which the core of a star 15 times more massive than the sun collapses into a black hole. The black hole’s spin, or magnetic fields, may be acting like a slingshot, flinging material into the surrounding debris.