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Bugs in mouth shed light on gum disease

A study of microbes from the human mouth has provided insight into periodontitis, a disease marked by inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth. Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have cracked the genetic code of bacteria linked to the condition. 

The finding profiles the SR1 bacteria, a group of microbes present in many environments ranging from the mouth to deep within the Earth, that have never been cultivated in the laboratory.

Human oral SR1 bacteria are elevated in periodontitis, a disease marked by inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.
Scientists also found that the SR1 bacteria employ a unique genetic code in which the codon UGA - a sequence of nucleotides guiding protein synthesis — appears not to serve its normal role as a stop code. In fact, scientists found that UGA serves to introduce a glycine amino acid instead. "This is like discovering that in a language you know well there is a dialect in which the word stop means go," said co-author Mircea Podar of the Department of Energy lab's Biosciences Division.

Podar and colleagues envision this work providing a path toward a better understanding of microbiological factors of periodontitis as well as to the establishment of a framework to help scientists interpret genomic data from this bacterium and others that have the same altered genetic code.

Boiled Greek coffee key to longevity

When looking to discover the 'secrets of a longer life' many scientists turn to the elderly inhabitants of Ikaria, the Greek island, that boast the highest rates of longevity in the world. Now, researchers investigating cardiovascular health believe that a cup of boiled Greek coffee holds the clue to the elderly islanders' good health.

Only 0.1 percent of Europeans live to be over 90, yet on the Greek island of Ikaria, the figure is 1 pe rcent. This is recognised as one of the highest longevity rates anywhere – and the islanders tend to live out their longer lives in good health.

In particular, the researchers investigated links between coffee-drinking habits and the subjects' endothelial function. The endothelium is a layer of cells that lines blood vessels, which is affected both by aging and by lifestyle habits (such as smoking).

The team homed in on coffee because recent studies suggest that moderate coffee consumption may slightly reduce the risks of coronary heart disease, and that it may also have a positive impact on several aspects of endothelial health.

Male lions use dense vegetation for hunting

Male lions have long been believed to be dependent on females when it comes to hunting, but new evidence suggests that they are, in fact, very successful hunters in their own right.

A new report from a team including Carnegie’s Scott Loarie and Greg Asner shows that male lions use dense savanna vegetation for ambush-style hunting in Africa.
Female lions have long been observed to rely on cooperative strategies to hunt their prey.

While some studies demonstrated that male lions are as capable at hunting as females, the males are less likely to cooperate, so there were still questions as to how the males manage to hunt successfully. The scientific results show that ambushing prey from behind vegetation is linked to hunting success among male lions.

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