Backcountry visitors are leaving poo piles in the Australian Alps – and it's a problem

Spring has arrived in Australia’s Snowy Mountains. The snow is starting to melt. Wildflowers are emerging in a variety of colours: blues, yellows, whites … hang on. Those aren’t white flowers. They’re scrunched up bits of toilet paper left behind by skiers, boarders and snow-shoers. When you think of backcountry snow adventures, you think of pristine wilderness. But unfortunately, there’s a problem: what to do with your poo. Many backcountry adventurers just squat, drop and don’t stop. The result, as we saw ourselves on an overnight ski trip, is a surprisingly large amount of poo and toilet paper. It’s become a...
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Woman left in ‘excruciating pain’ and partially blind due to dirty makeup bag

A personal trainer who was partially blinded after she got a bacterial eye infection from her dirty makeup bag has warned others of the risks.Laura Hawkins, 24, was travelling in Australia when she awoke one morning in “excruciating pain” and unable to open her right eye. Unbeknownst to her, her contact lenses, which had been kept inside her makeup bag, had picked up bacteria which was then transferred to her eye. The germs caused a huge ulcer on her cornea that required immediate medical attention and could have blinded her, if left untreated. The young woman from Bristol has now...

Novel bacterial taxa in a minimal lignocellulolytic consortium and their potential for lignin and plastics transformation

The understanding and manipulation of microbial communities toward the conversion of lignocellulose and plastics are topics of interest in microbial ecology and biotechnology. In this study, the polymer-degrading capability of a minimal lignocellulolytic microbial consortium (MELMC) was explored by genome-resolved metagenomics. The MELMC was mostly composed (>90%) of three bacterial members (Pseudomonas protegens; Pristimantibacillus lignocellulolyticus gen. nov., sp. nov; and Ochrobactrum gambitense sp. nov) recognized by their high-quality metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs). Functional annotation of these MAGs revealed that Pr. lignocellulolyticus could be involved in cellulose and xylan deconstruction, whereas Ps. protegens could catabolize lignin-derived chemical compounds. The capacity of the MELMC to transform synthetic plastics was assessed by two strategies: (i) annotation of MAGs against databases containing plastic-transforming enzymes; and (ii) predicting enzymatic activity based on chemical structural similarities between lignin- and plastics-derived chemical compounds, using Simplified Molecular-Input Line-Entry System and Tanimoto coefficients. Enzymes involved in the depolymerization of polyurethane and polybutylene adipate terephthalate were found to be encoded by Ps. protegens, which could catabolize phthalates and terephthalic acid. The axenic culture of Ps. protegens grew on polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) nanoparticles and might be a suitable species for the industrial production of PHAs in the context of lignin and plastic upcycling.

How to Tell If Your Child Has Strep Throat & What to Do About It

Thank you to our sponsors at Checkable Health for this article and sharing their expertise with us!. It’s that time of year again, back to school — and back to germs. As moms, you’ve probably seen it all. But no matter how old your kids are, every...

From the Back Paddock

Summer – first I thought it’d never arrive. Then I hurried it with thoughts of short sleeves, sandals and a bandana to keep the sweat from my eyes. And then one June day I hung my flannel-lined shirt on my workshop coat tree and proclaimed summer had finally arrived.
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New collars boost bighorn sheep monitoring efforts

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is better able to monitor the health, movements and distribution of bighorn sheep in the Wildcat Hills thanks to a project completed this month. With the help of a helicopter capture crew, Game and Parks placed tracking collars on 27 sheep during two mornings,...