Blog Archives

River bacteria that killed Mechanicsville man identified

By Laura Kebede, Richmond Times-Dispatch

VibrioBacteriaThe river bacteria that contributed to the death of a Mechanicsville man last week has been identified as Vibrio vulnificus, a health official said.

Charlie Horner, 75, died after a cut from a catfish barb became infected with the bacteria Saturday at the Rappahannock River in Essex County. His leg was amputated Monday to stall the spread of the infection, but he died two days later.

Horner’s was the first death of 2015 reported in Virginia attributed to Vibrio vulnificus. There have been 17 cases so far this year, five of which were from wound infections, according to preliminary state data.

Vibrio vulnificus naturally occurs in brackish and salt water, especially during the warmer months, including in parts of the James River as it mixes with salt water from the Chesapeake Bay. Its prevalence peaks in July because the bacteria replicates faster in warmer water. It can enter the bloodstream through open wounds or cuts, or when a person eats contaminated shellfish. Read more

Black fungus may provide cheaper jet fuel

By Brett Smith, redOrbit.com

jetWe all want cheaper airfare, but the high cost of jet fuel is a major driver of today’s ticket prices.

However, a new report from researchers at Washington State University indicates that cheaper jet fuel could be on the way thanks to a common black fungus found in rotting fruit called Aspergillus carbonarius.

By providing a special diet, the study team was able to get the fungus to produce hydrocarbons similar to those in jet fuel.

“It’s very promising,” said study author Birgitte Ahring, a bioproducts expert at WSU, in a press release.”I think that the fungus-based fuels are something that is going to happen. It’s a tremendous opportunity.” Read more

The day slime mold invaded my front yard

English: Dog Vomit Slime Mold or Scrambled Egg...

English: Dog Vomit Slime Mold or Scrambled Egg Slime Fuligo septica, Family: Physaridae, Location: Germany, Biberach Deutsch: Gelbe Lohblüte oder Hexenbutter Fuligo septica, Familie: Physaridae, Fundort: Deutschland, Biberach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By Jenny Marder, http://www.pbs.org

 

About a week ago, we noticed an intruder in our front yard — a vivid yellow, blob-like substance that appeared to be invisibly oozing across our garden mulch like the beginnings of a horror film. My first thought was, naturally, will it creep into the house through the windows, consume my family and then feed on our brains?

 

But upon further research, I discovered the culprit — slime mold. I had slime mold in my garden. And not just any kind of slime mold. The kind affectionately known as “dog vomit.”

 

Like any homeowner, I was thoroughly grossed out and wanted it gone. But like any decent journalist, I needed some pictures first. Plus, I had no idea what to do with the stuff. Was it dangerous? Was it harmful to touch? To breathe? So I took a trek to my local garden shop for guidance. Read More

 

Juniper mold threatens world supplies of gin

By Francie Diep, http://www.popsci.com

A fungus-like pathogen, first discovered just five years ago, now is wreaking havoc on juniper trees in the U.K.

This is the first time that this mold, called Phytophthora austrocedrae, has ever been seen in Europe. It threatens a tree that’s native to the U.K. and important to ecosystems there. Junipers are known for the berries, which give gin that piney flavor. Most gin companies don’t get their juniper berries from the U.K. nowadays, ABC News reports, but the infection may cross onto mainland Europe. Read More