Many water wells in Iowa tainted by farm runoff, report finds

More than 40 percent of private wells tested positive for coliform bacteria at least once over a 16-year period, according to a new study of Iowa state records by the Environmental Working Group and the Iowa Environmental Council.

Understanding the microbiome is the ‘next frontier in medicine’

Most of the trillions of bacteria and other organisms that live in and on our bodies — our microbiome — are in our intestinal tract, “where they are capable of influencing virtually every aspect of our health,” writes Rene Ebersole in FERN’s latest piece, published with Cooking Light. No paywall

More samples of salmonella in humans show resistance to multiple types of antibiotics

Federal researchers say multi-drug resistance has increased to 12 percent of salmonella bacteria found in the digestive systems of ill people, up from 9 percent in the previous year. Salmonella is a common type of food-borne illness estimated to affect 1 million Americans annually and to cause 380 deaths a year.

Scientists study microbiome of sourdough bread starters

More than 500 people from the U.S. to Thailand have sent their sourdough bread starters to be analyzed by microbiologist as part of the Sourdough Project, led by biologist Rob Dunn at North Carolina State University. “The project is trying to answer many questions,” says NPR. “How does a starter's microbial ecosystem vary with different flours? How does a new starter compare with one that's 200 years old, filled with tradition and lore? Do they change with geography, as some claim? And, of course, how can you bake a more delicious loaf?”

BPI and ABC News go to court over ‘pink slime’

Jury selection starts this week for a lawsuit filed by Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. in 2012 against ABC News and correspondent Jim Avila over “pink slime.” BPI is seeking $1 billion in defamation charges, claiming that ABC made its product — beef that has had the fat removed and then ammonia gas added to kill bacteria — seem unsafe to consume.

New to U.S., bacterial leaf stripe hits corn in nine states

A corn disease that originated in South Africa, bacterial leaf stripe, has been found in the heart of the Corn Belt with little known about how it spreads or its affect on yields, says DTN. The disease has been identified in field corn, seed corn, popcorn and sweet corn in nine states from South Dakota to Texas.

NRCS trains farmers to protect the microbes in their soil

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is on a nationwide mission to train farmers to protect the microorganisms in soil—and their relationship to crops— instead of destroying them with fertilizer and chemical sprays, says an Orion Magazine story produced with the Food and Environment Reporting Network.

Bacteria instead of antibiotics to keep livestock healthy

Along with corn and hay, cattle at Iowa State University's Beef Nutrition Farm are consuming small doses of bacteria as part of their daily rations. It's part of research into alternatives to the antibiotics that are a common tool in livestock health, says Harvest Public Media.

Consumer Reports: bacteria is common in ground beef

All 300 samples of raw ground beef examined by researchers from Consumer Reports magazine, whether from conventionally or sustainably raised cattle, "contained bacteria that signified fecal contamination."

Obama seeks $1.2 billion to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria

"The Obama administration wants to double the amount of federal funding dedicated to combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria," says the Washington Post, based on comments from White House officials in advance of the fiscal 2016 budget request.

Researchers create “genetic firewall,” could be used in GMOs

Two teams of scientists achieved a milestone - creation of bacteria that cannot survive without a specific artificial chemical, says Reuters, "potentially overcoming a major obstacle to wider use of genetically modified organisms."

Recruiting soil bacteria to keep arsenic out of rice

Researchers at the University of Delaware are looking at soil bacteria as a defense against arsenic build-up in rice, one of the leading food crops globally, says the New York Times. Long-term exposure to arsenic can be damaging to human health. One bacterium, Pantoa agglomerans, seems to reduce arsenic in the stems of rice plants to one-eighth of former levels, says scientist Harsh Bais in the Times article, which says it is the first microbe shown to reduce arsenic in rice. Research is now looking at whether the change affects rice quality.