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News Release 15-015

Funding cutting-edge, collaborative research

NSF announces newest awards for Material Research Science and Engineering Centers

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A view looking from the top down on a <em>Bacillus subtillis</em> colony

MRSECs provide a uniquely collaborative environment where some of the most transformational research is able to occur. In this case, research by a team from Harvard University that included physicists, mathematicians, chemists and biologists examined the formation of biofilms in B. subtilis, a type of rod-shaped bacteria often found in soil. Results from the study discovered how bacterial biofilms expand to form slimy mats on teeth, pipes, surgical instruments and crops, causing tooth decay, hospital infections, agricultural damage and corrosion. The project established a link between the phenotype--the physically observable traits of biofilm growth--and the genetic underpinning that allows spreading to happen in B. subtilis.

Credit: Hera Vlamakis, Harvard University Medical School

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