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    • A Lakeside Tale

      <p>by Christoph Weigel | How small are bacteria&thinsp;? And how big can they get as single cells&thinsp;? For the lower end of the size scale, we know since the work of Jill Banfield's team that a multitude of ultra-small bacteria exist with a spherical diameters of ~0.25&thinsp;µm and calculated cell vol&shy;umes of ~0.009&thinsp;µm<sup>3</sup>. Much larger are newborn cells of <em>Escherichia coli</em>&thinsp; with a length of...

    • Old Enzymes Tell Stories

      <p>by Elio | Offhand, what can you say about the enzymes of the earliest cells? Surely, a few things pop up, for example, they were fewer in number and probably simpler than the ones we have now. They must have had fewer frills than the modern ones, which tend to have clear-cut tastes for substrates and...

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    • Evolutionary Ways

      <p>by Merry Youle | Evolution skeptics point to complex biological features as evidence that the amazing intricacy of the biological world could not be the product of blind mutation. The <em>de novo</em>  creation of such com­­plexity, they argue, would require far too many coordinated mutational changes before the new form provided any fitness benefit. Thus, evolution simply cannot explain such apparent leaps. Evo­lutionists, beginning with Darwin, and continuing today, have p...

    • Do bacterial species really exist and why should we care?

      by Kostas Konstantinidis and Roberto Kolter | The second part of the question in the title of this post is relative easy to answer; the first part is much more challenging. Defining bacterial species is not only an important academic exercise but also has major practical consequences. For example, infectious disease diagnoses, regulations involving the transport of bacteria, and educating the public regarding bacteria that are beneficial to humans, animals or plants are all deeply-rooted in nami...