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From the College of Natural Sciences
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. 

Scientists Unveil the Most Comprehensive Genomic Tree of Life

Scientists Unveil the Most Comprehensive Genomic Tree of Life

An international team of researchers, including Brett Baker from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, has made the most comprehensive tree of life based on genomes, greatly expanding our view of the diversity of life on the planet. Using genetic data collected in recent years, the researchers found a group of bacteria that are so diverse genetically that they represent half of all the diversity of bacteria on the planet.

In Case You Missed It: The Hook Covers CNS Research

In Case You Missed It: The Hook Covers CNS Research

The Hook, a weekly video series by the Texas Exes alumni association, has covered three CNS research stories in the past couple of months. ​The research spotlights feature scientists from diverse areas such as computer science and marine biology.

Podcast: Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria

Podcast: Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria

To study diseases, biologists often make models, for example, a rat with a disorder similar to Alzheimer's. With a good model, they can tinker with different variables and see if anything halts the disease, without the ethical limits of experimenting on actual humans. But scientists studying an especially nasty bacterium that tends to invade and breed out of control in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) kept hitting dead ends in their search for a good model.

Natural Sciences Alum Invests in Neurodegenerative Research

Natural Sciences Alum Invests in Neurodegenerative Research

Dr. John Doran (Microbiology, Chemistry, 1969) has established an endowment with the intention of advancing science in neurodegenerative diseases.

Audio: Saving the Bees, Two Perspectives

Audio: Saving the Bees, Two Perspectives

As bees sharply decline around the world, two researchers are taking very different approaches to understand -- and potentially reverse -- this troubling trend. One is studying the microbes that live inside bees and help protect them against infections. The other is studying the links between changing landscapes and bee health.

Sociable Chimps Harbor Richer Gut Microbiomes

Sociable Chimps Harbor Richer Gut Microbiomes

Two chimpanzees interact in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Photo by Steffen Foerster, Duke University

Spending time in close contact with others often means risking catching germs and getting sick. But being sociable may also help transmit beneficial microbes, finds a multi-institutional study of gut microbiomes in chimpanzees.