Antarctica is Home to the World’s Largest Wetland


While to most observers, Antarctica is a barren wasteland, there are many who see it as something completely different. There’s a rich network of rivers and enormous lakes, which happen to be covered by ice.

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Gut Microbial Enterotypes Form a Spectrum Rather than Distinct Groups

Bacteroides fragilis, part of the intestinal flora

Trillions of bacteria populate our intestines. While these communities vary between humans, a study published last year in the journal Nature indicated that they may fall into just three distinct types. However, new data presented at the International Human Microbiome Congress in Paris suggests that the boundaries between enterotypes are fuzzier than previously thought.

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Microbial Oasis Discovered Under Atacama Desert in Chile


Researchers have discovered a veritable microbial oasis, under the Atacama Desert in Chile. The region is known for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), but the discovery of a hypersaline subsurface microbial habitat, associated with halite-, nitrate-, and perchlorate-containing salts, lying at a depth of 2m in the driest desert on Earth will give scientists more reasons to visit the region.

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Fungus Transforms North American Red Turpentine Beetle into Tree Killer in Asia


Microbial evolution has turned a mild-mannered North American beetle into a tree killer in Asia. The red turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus valens, is a wood-boring species native to North America. D. valens is unremarkable and harmless in its native region. However once it migrated to China, it wiped out more than seven million pines in the past 12 years, and it’s poised to spread throughout much of Asia and Europe.

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