News and events

Single-celled architects inspire new nanotechnology

July 16, 2018

Diatoms are tiny, unicellular creatures, inhabiting oceans, lakes, rivers and soils. Through their respiration, they produce close to a quarter of the oxygen on earth, nearly as much as the world’s tropical forests. In addition to their ecological success across the planet, they have a number of remarkable properties. Diatoms live in glasslike homes of their own design, visible under magnification in an astonishing and aesthetically beautiful range of forms. Researchers have found...

Korean documentary spotlights ASU autism research

February 12, 2018

A recently broadcast multipart Korean television documentary that explores new treatments for people with autism and gastrointestinal problems includes reports on research led by three Arizona State University faculty members. James Adams, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and Dae-Wook Kang collaborated on the research projects whose results are featured in the documentary. Together they co-authored the study “Treating gastrointestinal disorders in children with autism using microbiota transplant...

Biodesign’s “Penguin Whisperer” kicks off “A Sip of Science” series

February 9, 2018

ASU’s own “Penguin Whisperer” kicked off the Biodesign Institute’s new event series, “A Sip of Science,” Thursday night at the George and Dragon restaurant in central Phoenix. Dressed for the occasion in a penguin suit, molecular virologist Arvind Varsani entertained the crowd of over 40 people with stories about penguins, viruses and life as a researcher working in Antarctica. “What do you call a penguin in the desert?” Varsani joked. “A lost penguin!” Varsani is an...

New study explores origin of obesity

January 9, 2018

More than almost any other medical hazard, obesity holds widespread consequences for human health. The condition sharply raises the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, cancer, gall bladder dysfunction, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome… and the list goes on. Recent research highlights the fact that obesity can have its roots in infancy and early childhood, with the results persisting into adulthood, underscoring the need for aggressive intervention at...

Drawing blood from a stone: photosynthetic microbiomes found to live on carbon source of the rocks they excavate

October 20, 2017

A little sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. That is all it takes to keep cyanobacteria --the miniature versions of plants--- happy. For this, they use carbon fixation, one of the most important reactions on Earth, turning carbon dioxide into sugars, fats and proteins needed to grow and thrive, while giving humans and the rest of animals a precious byproduct: the oxygen in the air we breathe.   While land plants get most of their carbon dioxide from the air, aquatic microalgae...

ASU joins aggressive White House initiative to probe the mysteries of the microbiome

May 13, 2016

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced today a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) to foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems. Helping lead the initiative is Dr. Ferran Garcia-Pichel, dean of natural sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University and founding director of the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, which launched today in concert with...

ASU, White House collaborate to investigate mysteries of microorganisms

May 13, 2016

We asked Garcia-Pichel to explain microbiomes, from where they come, the reasons they are important and why it is the right time to studying them more closely. Question: What is a microbe? Answer: A microbiome is the collective ecological community of microbes that reside in an environment, like a human body, a desert or a river. part is really easy. It is a living organism that you cannot see with your naked eye. Q: Where do microbes live? A: They live everywhere. You...

ASU scientists discover how one microorganism erodes coral reefs

May 9, 2016

Coral reefs and hard-shelled sea creatures such as oysters and mussels are constantly being threatened, not only by the detrimental effects of stressors such as climate change and habitat loss, but also by microorganisms. Researchers from Arizona State University have discovered how a particular type of cyanobacteria, a photosynthetic microbe, is able to bore into and live within solid carbonates, the main mineral that makes up coral skeletons and seashells — hastening their erosion and...

ASU receives $1.5M Keck Foundation award to study the origin of Earth’s water

February 16, 2016

Arizona State University has received a $1.5 million award from the W.M. Keck Foundation’s  Science and Engineering Research Grant Program to study the origin of Earth’s water and hydrogen.    The project, entitled "Water from the Heavens: The Origins of Earth’s Hydrogen," will be headed by Principal Investigator and Regents’ Professor Peter Buseck, of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences. “True to the Sun Devil...

ASU researchers find microbial heat islands in the desert

January 20, 2016

Deserts are often thought of as barren places that are left exposed to the extremes of heat and cold and where not much is afoot. But that view is being altered as new research reveals the intricate ecological dynamics of deserts as they change in response to the elements. New research from Arizona State University shows how microbes can significantly warm the desert surface by darkening it, much in the same way that dark clothes will make the wearer feel warmer in sunlight. These...