One of biology’s wilder facts is that we’re all family. You and me, sure, but also me and a mushroom. Triceratops shared genes with you. So does the virus that makes you cough, and a rosebush. Bacteria left us on the tree of life around 2.7 billion years ago, but the wet world they came from is still ours: One code runs all of life. The same proteins that imprint memories in your neurons, for example, do so in octopi, ravens, and sea slugs. This genetic conservation means tricks from one species can be hijacked. If you stick a jellyfish gene in a monkey, it’ll glow green.
Out of all the organisms on Earth, parasites might have the worst reputation of all. But a team of researchers in the lab of Wayne Getz, a professor of wildlife ecology in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, wants to improve the parasite’s standing in the world.
When we say “internal compass,” we’re usually referring to something metaphorical, a person’s innate sense of right and wrong. But for UC Berkeley microbiologists Arash Komeili and David Hershey, the term is literal: The two study magnetotactic bacteria, which navigate using tiny magnetic iron crystals called magnetosomes.
Editors’ Note: This summer has seen the most widespread, deadly outbreak of Ebola in recorded history as the virus has ravaged West Africa. This week we learned that a U.S. doctor and missionary who contracted Ebola while working there and were flown to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital have been successfully treated and released. Medical experts have downplayed concerns about an Ebola epidemic striking here, given that the disease doesn’t spread easily from person-to-person and the U.S. health care system is better equipped to track, isolate and treat the infected.
Posted on August 22, 2014 - 11:10am
Pertussis continues to spread in California, with 3,458 cases reported between January 1 and June 10: In less than half a year, the toll of the sickened already has exceeded all reported cases for 2013. State health officials have now declared a pertussis epidemic—deeply worrisome, considering the bacterium* poses a particularly dire threat to infants.
Posted on June 24, 2014 - 3:25pm
The first confirmed victim was a Vietnamese butcher in Láo Cai. He collapsed suddenly while chopping up pork ribs in his outdoor stall, and died within hours.
Professor Arthur Reingold is Head of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health
California: Is whooping cough coming back?
We certainly are having a resurgence of pertussis in the United States, although it’s never gone away. It is a threat to very young infants, particularly those too young to be vaccinated or who have not yet had a complete series of the vaccines.
Where does pertussis come from? How can you catch it?