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Press Release 08-043
Countering an Approaching Water Crisis

Researchers outline obstacles and solutions for providing water in the 21st century

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Photo of a water fountain.

Water resources are at risk around the globe, including at taps here in the United States.

Credit: Josh Chamot, National Science Foundation


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Illustration of new class of synthetic antimicrobials.

One new approach to disinfection was described last spring by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They demonstrated a new class of synthetic antimicrobials that disinfect by inducing negative curvature in bacterial membranes, generating pores. The research by Lihua Yang and colleagues appeared in the Oct. 10, 2007, Journal of the American Chemical Society. Additional work from this lab can be seen at: http://prometheus.mse.uiuc.edu/.

Credit: Gerard Wong, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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Schematic showing nanoparticles diffusing on a tube composed of a fluctuating lipid bilayer.

This schematic shows nanoparticles diffusing on a tube composed of a fluctuating lipid bilayer developed by Steve Granick's research group (http://groups.mrl.uiuc.edu/granick/Home.html) at the University of Illinois as a mimic to a cell membrane. The researchers found that the process is dominated by fluctuations of the membrane surface itself. Such fundamental research is critical to understanding the processes that drive cell functions at a molecular level and could eventually lead to new approaches to dealing with dangerous microbes.

Credit: Steve Granick, University of Illinois


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Transmission electron micrograph showing adenoviruses.

This transmission electron micrograph shows adenoviruses. WaterCAMPWS Disinfection Team research is revealing that the capsid proteins shown in the micrograph are the target of both chemical disinfectants and photons used for disinfection. The researchers believe the impact of disinfection processes on key proteins may be the limiting step responsible for inactivating the adenoviruses.

Credit: Kwanrawee Sirikanchana and Lou Ann Miller, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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Transmission electron micrograph showing a cross-section of a spore of Cryptosporidium.

This transmission electron micrograph shows a cross-section of a spore of the microogrganism Cryptosporidium parvum. The nanoscale double wall of the spore is effective in protecting the four sporozoites from chemical disinfectant attack but allows passage of photons which are effective in inactivating the parasite.

Credit: Jason Rennecker and Lou Ann Miller, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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