From Bonnie L. Grant, in Gardening Know How:
“Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has, indeed, been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress.
Serotonin has been linked to such problems as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems. The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant in soil and has no adverse health effects. These antidepressant microbes in soil may be as easy to use as just playing in the dirt. Continue reading
From Stewart Brand, on Edge.org:
Click to go to the NY Times story this picture is from.
STEWART BRAND, Founder, Whole Earth Catalog, cofounder; The Well; cofounder, Global Business Network; Author, Whole Earth Discipline
Microbes Run the World
That opening sentence of The New Science of Metagenomics sounds reveille for a new way of understanding biology, and maybe of understanding society as well.
The breakthrough was shotgun sequencing of DNA, the same technology that gave us the human genome years ahead of schedule. Starting in 2003, Craig Venter and others began sequencing large populations of bacteria. The thousands of new genes they found (double the total previously discovered) showed what proteins the genes would generate and therefore what function they had, and that began to reveal what the teeming bacteria were really up to. This “meta”-genomics revolutionized microbiology, and that revolution will reverberate through the rest of biology for decades. Continue reading
From the Sunshine Project.org, where it is titled “Genetic engineering is regularly used to produce lethal bacteria“. In a comment on a previous post, reader “Tal” wondered whether there might have been a connection between Germany’s recent decision to phase out its nuclear power plants and the seemingly random appearance what was first called a lethal strain of E.coli. From this article it certainly sounds like it’s technically possible to make these kind of things in a lab:
It sounds like science fiction, but it is a deadly reality: lethal microbes, with no cure, invisible to detection systems, and able to overcome vaccines. In ‘defensive’ programs, researchers in the USA, UK, Russia and Germany have genetically engineered biological weapons agents, building new deadly strains. And this is probably only the tip of the iceberg.
Genetic engineering can be used to broaden the classical bioweapons arsenal. Through genetic engineering, bacteria can not only be made resistant to antibiotics or vaccines, they can also be made even more toxic, harder to detect, or more stable in the environment. By using genetic methods that are standard procedures in thousands of labs worldwide, bioweapons can be made more virulent, easier to handle, and harder to fight. In short, more effective. Continue reading