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From the College of Natural Sciences
Three Alumni to be Inducted into Hall of Honor

Three Alumni to be Inducted into Hall of Honor

Three world-changing alumni of the College of Natural Sciences have been selected for induction into the college's 2017 Hall of Honor. Two distinguished alumni, Gail Dianne Lewis and Alan Stern, have been excelling in their chosen fields for decades. Meanwhile, emerging leader Franziska Roesner has only just begun to make her mark. All are building a better world.

Social Bees Have Kept Their Gut Microbes for 80 Million Years

Social Bees Have Kept Their Gut Microbes for 80 Million Years

About 80 million years ago, a group of bees began exhibiting social behavior, which includes raising young together, sharing food resources and defending their colony. Today, their descendants—honey bees, stingless bees and bumble bees—carry stowaways from their ancient ancestors: five species of gut bacteria that have evolved along with the host bees.

Genetic Signatures Reveal Environment Where Bacteria Evolved

Genetic Signatures Reveal Environment Where Bacteria Evolved

Just as the fossil record reveals clues about the conditions in which prehistoric animals and plants once lived, newly discovered genetic signatures in bacterial evolution may one day allow hospitals, doctors and scientists to know more about the environment where a bacterial infection originated.

Hybrid Antibody Takes Down HIV

Hybrid Antibody Takes Down HIV

George Georgiou, a professor of engineering and molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, and his colleagues have developed a hybrid antibody that neutralized 99 percent of HIV-1 strains tested. The antibody is based on so-called "broadly-neutralizing antibodies," a group of antibodies from HIV-infected patients that are able to take down an array of rapidly mutating HIV-1 viruses.

Discovery of New Microbes Sheds Light on How Complex Life Arose

Discovery of New Microbes Sheds Light on How Complex Life Arose

An international team of scientists, including researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere, discovered several new microbes carrying genes that until now were thought to be unique to a group of more complex life forms including humans. This finding supports a decades-old hypothesis that complex life first arose from the merger of two simpler life forms.

Evolution Inspires Anthrax Cure (Audio)

Evolution Inspires Anthrax Cure (Audio)

This fall marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. anthrax letter attacks that sickened dozens of people and killed five. At the time, there was no effective treatment for a late stage infection. The attacks accelerated work already underway at the University of Texas at Austin. Brent Iverson, George Georgiou and Jennifer Maynard borrowed a page from Mother Nature's playbook to develop the world's first treatment for late stage inhalation anthrax.

Some Bacteria Have Lived in the Human Gut Since Before We Were Human

Some Bacteria Have Lived in the Human Gut Since Before We Were Human

Some of the bacteria in our guts were passed down over millions of years, since before we were human, suggesting that evolution plays a larger role than previously known in people's intestinal-microbe makeup, according to a new study in the journal Science.

Bacteria Show Capacity for Rapid, Beneficial Mutations

Bacteria Show Capacity for Rapid, Beneficial Mutations

Scientists studying how microbes evolve have long assumed that nearly all new genetic mutations get passed down at a predictable pace and usually without either helping or hurting the microbe in adapting to its environment. In a new study published in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers studying tens of thousands of generations of E. coli bacteria report that most new genetic mutations that were passed down were actually beneficial and occurred at much more variable rates than previously thought.

Cross-respiration Between Oral Bacteria Leads to Worse Infections

Cross-respiration Between Oral Bacteria Leads to Worse Infections

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere have determined that two bacterial species commonly found in the human mouth and in abscesses, cooperate to make the pathogenic bacterium, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, more infectious. Key to the cooperation is that the harmless partner provides the pathogen with an oxygen-rich environment that helps it flourish.

Genetic Potential of Oil-Eating Bacteria from the BP Oil Spill Decoded

Genetic Potential of Oil-Eating Bacteria from the BP Oil Spill Decoded

Microbiologists have cracked the genetic code of how bacteria broke down oil to help clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The findings, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, reveal that some bacteria have far greater potential for consuming oil than was previously known.