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Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike 97

sciencehabit writes "Scientists have long known that a group of viruses called bacteriophages have a knack for infiltrating bacteria and that some begin their attack with a protein spike. But the tip of this spike is so small that no one knew what it was made of or exactly how it worked. Now a team of researchers has found a single iron atom at the head of the spike, a discovery that suggests phages enter bacteria in a different way than surmised (abstract)."
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Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike

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  • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:14PM (#39193689)

    So, now that we have confirmation that viruses have discovered and now use iron weapons expect this to be the latest Syfy movie.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:23PM (#39193759)
    Pay attention, folks. Important things are going on. Our understanding of matter at the atomic level is improving daily. We will have a model of how matter organizes itself into life. Eventually, we'll be able to theoretically (not just empirically) understand the immensly complex goings-on of a single cell, then how cells work as a human being. We'll have much better control of diseases including aging.

    It's a bright future for people who like life. People who are happy with their handful of decades followed by decline and don't have the courage to live longer can ignore these things.

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:29PM (#39193789) Journal

    A single iron atom isn't going to much of a sword. Iron swords work because the iron atoms support each other.

    A lone iron atom might do something chemically like pretend to be a heme molecule to bypass the bacteria's defenses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:38PM (#39193857)

    Except the iron atom isn't at the exact point, it's within the point and seems to serve as an anchor around which are an oxahedral cluster of folds wrap.

    The key is that the iron ion allows the creation of a structure which won't unfold as it penetrates.

  • by dankasak (2393356) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:25AM (#39194147)
    Understanding what's killing us early is quite a different thing from DOING something about it. I can tell you what's killing us early right now. Diet. Toxic chemicals - in particular inorganic ones. Lack of exercise. Quick Summary: Western society. Now that we know what's killing us early, what do we do to fix it?
  • by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @10:19AM (#39197539)

    There are enough resources in the universe to support an effectively limitless expansion of the human race.

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg