For only a few years, it has been clear that bacteria are completely dominant in a healthy human being: On top of our ten billion body cells, there are one hundred billion microbial cells that play a role in our metabolism. This enormously increases the options for our bodily processes: If we include the microbes’ genes, then we have over 100,000 genes at our disposal, as opposed to just over 20,000.

Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life ... The temperature in the Arctic Circle is rising quickly, about three times faster than in the rest of the world ... Frozen permafrost soil is the perfect place for bacteria to remain alive for very long periods of time, perhaps as long as a million years.

Although this isn’t the first time someone in the US has been infected with pan-resistant bacteria, at this point, it is not common. It is, however, alarming ... Doctors and scientists who track the spread of antibiotic resistance — the rapidly proliferating swarm superbugs — see this case as a big red flag ... There is international recognition of the threat, which an expert report published last year warned could kill 10 million a year by 2050 if left unchecked.

Fifteen years after the U.S. declared drug-resistant infections to be a grave threat, the crisis is only worsening...as government agencies remain unwilling or unable to impose reporting requirements on a healthcare industry that often hides the problem ... Even when recorded, tens of thousands of deaths from drug-resistant infections – as well as many more infections that sicken but don’t kill people – go uncounted because federal and state agencies are doing a poor job of tracking them.

Researchers studying ways to improve agricultural water quality have shown that we can use a natural process called denitrification to treat subsurface drainage water on farms. It relies on bacteria found in soil around the world to convert nitrate – the form of nitrogen in farm drainage water – to nitrogen gas, which is environmentally benign and makes up more than three-fourths of the air we breathe ... Bioreactors are engineered environments that take advantage of their work on a large scale.

Every day Southern California hospitals unleash millions of gallons of raw sewage into municipal sewers... The sludge includes not just waste from patients suffering from drug-resistant infections but also high levels of antibiotics prescribed to treat them. As the sewage mixes, the antibiotics kill off weaker bacteria, leaving the more lethal ones to thrive... a growing number of studies show sewage plants can't kill the superbugs. Instead...they thrive and grow stronger

Because the leaf can make hydrogen from any water—dirty water, even urine—and CO2 is present to excess in the atmosphere, the technology has promise as a local renewable energy source in areas that lack an electric grid ... Where India lacks grid infrastructure, about 300 million of its people lack access to electricity. But that also means new energy sources can develop without having to compete with established industry.

Drug-resistant infections currently kill an estimated 700,000 people worldwide each year. If efforts to curb antibiotic resistance fail, this number could increase to 10 million by 2050, surpassing the 8.2 million deaths a year caused by cancer,according to a global report commissioned by the UK government. The economic impact would also be devastating: the report estimates a cost of $100tn of global GDP over the next 35 years.

Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging ... Certain species of fungi have been found to be able to degrade plastics before, though none have been converted to landfill-munching purposes. The polymer chomper offers new hope...because bacteria are easier to work with and engineer.

It’s hard to say which microbes are helping or hurting our health because the science of the “built microbiome” is just beginning. But already, microbiologists know not all microbes are bad. For instance, dog owners’ homes contain dust with a high diversity of bacteria, and studies suggest that exposure to this dust may increase the proportion of bacteria like Lactobacillus johnsonii in dog owners’ guts and help protect them against allergies.