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  • Regulation of transcriptional termination in archaea has remained a mystery. Now, a high-throughput RNA sequencing approach identifies multiple archaeal genes that contain consecutive terminators, suggesting new ways by which these microorganisms regulate transcription.

    • Roger A. Garrett
    News & Views
  • Metagenomic analysis of Antarctic sea-ice and brine reveals the presence of hgcAB-like genes in the microaerophilic marine bacterium Nitrospina. These are similar to ones responsible for mercury methylation in anaerobic microorganisms and provide a plausible mechanism for mercury methylation in oxic marine environments.

    • Elsie M. Sunderland
    • Amina T. Schartup
    News & Views
  • A new, publicly available, collection of cultured bacterial species from the mouse gut, the Mouse Intestinal Bacterial Collection, opens up opportunities for deepening microbiome research. Cultured isolates allow the functions of specific species and controlled consortia to be determined through in vitro experimentation.

    • Clarisse Marotz
    • Rob Knight
    News & Views
  • Patients with atopic dermatitis have fundamentally different skin microbial populations compared with people with healthy skin. Bacteria associated with atopic dermatitis express genes for survival in dry conditions and for ammonia production, modulating the pH of this distinct environment and driving complex ecological interactions.

    • Ian D. Odell
    • Richard A. Flavell
    News & Views
  • Accurate estimates of disease burden are possible by building high-resolution geographical models. However, novel pathogens such as Zika virus pose substantial challenges, requiring both new analytical techniques and, where possible, serological surveys.

    • Steven Riley
    News & Views
  • Protein-synthesizing bacterial and archaeal cells can now be visualized by an adaptation of the BONCAT method, and sorted from complex samples for sequencing. A demonstration on the uncultivated, slow-growing methane-oxidizing consortia shows the high potential of this new method.

    • Antje Boetius
    News & Views
  • A new study provides clues to the physiological function of amyloid-β (Aβ), the plaque-forming peptide associated with Alzheimer's disease and finds a role for Aβ in fighting infection in the brain, by entangling pathogens in a web of amyloid fibrils. These data add to a growing appreciation of the role of microorganisms in neurodegenerative disease.

    • Roman M. Stilling
    • John F. Cryan
    News & Views
  • Scientific analysis of funding support suggests that interdisciplinary research proposals are less successful than those focused on single disciplines. This has negative implications for the development of interdisciplinary research such as microbiology, and may hinder our ability to solve society's grand challenges.

    • Paul C. Blainey
    News & Views
  • The surprising discovery of viable mutants that retain a peptidoglycan cell wall but lack the essential director of normal cytokinesis, FtsZ, reveals that Escherichia coli can proliferate in a completely unexpected manner.

    • Piet A. J. de Boer
    News & Views
  • Deep sequencing of hydrothermal vent and upper ocean water samples further implicate the ocean as a microbial ‘seed bank’. Do these data finally reveal that everything is everywhere? To some extent, but questions remain as to whether these ocean-borne microbes are, in fact, viable and colonize distant locales.

    • Peter Girguis
    News & Views
  • Inspection of more than 286,000 gene families has shed light on the most recent common ancestors of all life. The last universal common ancestor was likely to have been a thermophilic, anaerobic, N2-fixing organism that used the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway to fix CO2, using H2 as an electron donor.

    • James O. McInerney
    News & Views
  • Regulated splicing of some influenza virus RNAs is necessary for the synthesis of various essential proteins. Processing of these transcripts is now found to occur in nuclear speckles, previously considered storage sites for cellular splicing factors.

    • Juan Valcárcel
    • Juan Ortín
    News & Views
  • A combination of metagenomics and stable isotope probing provides new insight into the community-wide degradation of hydrocarbons released during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    • Rachel Mackelprang
    • Olivia U. Mason
    News & Views
  • Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy is transforming our ability to study the most intimate details of supramolecular multi-protein complexes. The recently observed atomic structure of the T4 phage baseplate paves the way towards understanding the molecular dynamics of other contractile machines such as the bacterial type VI secretion system.

    • Alain Filloux
    • Paul Freemont
    News & Views
  • A newly discovered type of bacterial effector produced by the intracellular pathogen Shigella flexneri cooperates with other virulence factors to sabotage host inflammatory responses.

    • Ilan Rosenshine
    News & Views
  • Mice raised under specific pathogen-free conditions in a lab do not model the natural exposure of animals and humans to environmental commensals and pathogens. Now, two studies show that exposing mice to their natural environment, or infecting them with specific pathogens, results in an immune system that better resembles that of adult humans.

    • Federica Sallusto
    News & Views
  • Antibiotic therapy is a cornerstone of contemporary medicine. Resistance testing is the gold standard for selecting antibiotics, but in some cases they are surprisingly ineffective. A study now shows that pathogens can form a subset of cells which survive, and even continue to grow in the face of antibiotics.

    • Wolf-Dietrich Hardt
    News & Views
  • Human pressures on coral reefs are giving macroalgae a competitive advantage over reef-building corals. These algae support larger, and potentially pathogenic, microbial populations that are metabolically primed for less-efficient, yet faster, carbohydrate remineralization, perpetuating a vicious cycle of reef degradation.

    • Melissa Garren
    News & Views
  • Several microbes produce proteases that cleave antibodies to evade immune recognition. Humans seem to have a receptor on myeloid cells that detects the presence of cleaved antibodies and activates innate immunity.

    • John Trowsdale
    News & Views
  • The plant pathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum secretes an effector that is similar to a plant peptide hormone, underscoring the variety of mechanisms that plant pathogens have evolved to tamper with host physiology.

    • Sophien Kamoun
    • Cyril Zipfel
    News & Views