125 votes
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Do bacteria die of old age?

This is a interesting question and for a long time it was thought that they do not age. In the meantime there are some new papers which say that bacteria do indeed age. Aging can be defined as the ...
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87 votes

How do scientists kill the bacteria they themselves made resistant?

You are absolutely right, flushing down the toilet (or the sink) or simply throwing them into the normal waste doesn't work for biosafety reasons. And it is also not allowed, depending on the country ...
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37 votes

Do viruses or bacteria have a flavour?

So I think this is a more conversational kind of question. I will address some misconceptions you have, and I will try to keep it brief, considering the nature and depth of your question. One could ...
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36 votes
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Hot water and bacteria

The bacteria wouldn't see any benefit from the warm water in the ~30-60 seconds you're washing your hands, neither would hot water "sterilize" your hands at temperatures you could tolerate. The reason ...
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  • 3,254
36 votes

Is there a vaccine against the plague (Yersinia pestis)?

There is little motivation right now for vaccination against plague because: Human infections with plague are fairly rare. A vaccine administered to the general populace would have to be very cheap ...
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36 votes
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Do viruses or bacteria have a flavour?

As you could imagine, a systematic cataloguing of bacterial or viral flavor profiles would violate a number of biosafety protocols. However, in a laboratory setting, different bacteria definitely have ...
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  • 4,496
36 votes
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Can a bacterium infect another bacterium?

Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus (BV) “infects” other bacteria: Similar to a virus, BV attacks bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) by attaching to and entering its prey, growing and replicating ...
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  • 765
33 votes

Can bacteria be killed by purely physical trauma?

My (limited) understanding is that it is quite hard to avoid killing some bacteria even with very gentle physical manipulation. On the other hand, it is quite hard to use physical force to achieve ...
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32 votes

Why don't we have vaccination against all diseases caused by microbes?

Mainly cost/benefit analysis. Using vaccines has a cost, both in dollars and in risk. That cost may be very low (cheap safe vaccines, like measles vaccine), or may be relatively high (smallpox vaccine ...
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25 votes
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Is there a bacterium that became a virus?

This virology site has a post about a 2017 paper about membrane-vesicled plasmids that act in ways that are theorized to be precursors to how viruses work: It is likely that the plasmid-containing ...
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21 votes

Can bacteria be killed by purely physical trauma?

There are plenty of physical or mechanical methods of killing bacteria, but most are used in conjunction with other agents and probably don't qualify as "blunt force trauma". For example, ...
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  • 4,496
20 votes
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Will proper autoclave treatment really "inactivate all resistant bacterial spores"? If not, how widespread are autoclave-resistant bacterial spores?

Bacterial spores in most contexts are properly called endospores, formed within the bacterial wall and are a survival mechanism, creating resistance to desiccation, heat and cold, with tolerances up ...
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  • 6,278
19 votes

How do scientists kill the bacteria they themselves made resistant?

To address what seems to be the misconception underlying your question: Killing pathogenic bacteria is not difficult; killing them without harming their (usually human) host is. This is why ...
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  • 546
19 votes
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Are there phage-eating bacteria?

It's suspected that some protists (namely choanozoans and picozoans) are proper/direct "virus eaters" due to the size of their "eating apparatus" and scarcity of bacterial remains ...
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18 votes
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How does isopropyl alcohol disinfect less in higher concentration?

The main reason why alcohols (isopropanol and ethanol mostly) can be used as disinfectants is that they denature (bacterial) proteins. This is also the reason why they work on such a broad spectrum of ...
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16 votes
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Approximately how long do bacteria live for?

They're effectively immortal, albeit in a Phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes sort of way. In general, a bacterial cell will divide as soon as it's biochemically able to do so, leaving behind two daughter ...
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  • 3,741
16 votes

Is there a vaccine against the plague (Yersinia pestis)?

There is already plague vaccine in use, which is only administered to lab workers working on Y. Pestis or people residing in areas affected with plague. (Via: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/...
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14 votes
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Why don't vaccines cause bacterial resistance?

Unfortunately, we do see examples of bacteria and viruses evolving vaccine resistance. For instance, vaccine resistant strains of polio and pertussis have recently been identified. Yet these seem ...
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  • 1,761
14 votes
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Are the bacteria in the stomachs of unborn babies beneficial?

It's a fascinating topic! While most of the bacteria known to colonize babies comes from the vaginal tract during birth and then later, through breastfeeding, although there is evidence to suggest ...
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  • 1,879
14 votes

Is there a bacterium that became a virus?

There are giant viruses that some people think could be degenerate bacteria. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimivirus Mimivirus shows many characteristics which place it at the boundary between ...
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14 votes
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When was the germ theory officially accepted?

It was only after Darwin's 1859 theory of evolution sparked an interest in chemical evolution as an explanation for life that the germ theory was accepted. ref As a comparison theory, it took until ...
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13 votes
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How heavy are all foreign microorganisms in and on the human body?

Edit: Matters Arising In this Nature News article, Scientists bust myth that our bodies have more bacteria than human cells, and in the bioRxiv pre-print article, Revised estimates for the number of ...
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  • 4,970
13 votes

Can an argument be made that humans are 90% bacterial?

I am not sure what you read as you have not supplied any references, but humans are not 90% bacterial cells. (OP subsequently provided; see Edit 2) Humans are 100% human cells, however for every one ...
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  • 4,970
12 votes
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Does a microwave oven disinfect food?

Microwave ovens can indeed kill bacteria in food by heating them to high temperatures. For example, this article found that microwave heating could kill all of the Salmonella bacteria in a chicken ...
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12 votes
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Does rainwater contain many fewer micro-organisms than river water?

According to a number of citations listed on Kenyon College's MicrobeWiki, rain can contain microorganisms via a process called "bioprecipitation." Essentially, microorganisms, dust and other small ...
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12 votes
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Novel bacterial strains of bacteria first isolated on the International Space Station, did the space environment lead to these genetic changes?

The authors propose that this is a distinct species based on a number of physiological and genetic tests. To quote the summary of your linked paper In summary, the phylogenetic and genetic ...
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  • 6,278
11 votes

Can a bacteriophage be used to treat bacterial diseases?

Yes, this is possible and is researched as an alternative to antibiotics. It has been used experimentally before antibiotics became widely available. Research was abandoned when antibiotics became ...
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11 votes
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Are bacteria necessary for an individual's life, or, how long could a person live without bacteria?

You might need to demote your single-celled 'lords' to 'squires'. They're not essential to an individual's life. You wouldn't die (dispensing with the "how" right off the bat.) You'd be just fine if ...
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11 votes
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Can I kill bacteria with distilled water?

Indeed, bacteria are susceptible to osmotic stress from being in pure water. They are also susceptible to starvation in such an environment. However, wild bacteria tend to have many mechanisms that ...
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  • 4,460
10 votes
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How quickly is antibiotic resistance lost?

Antibiotic resistances in bacteria is commonly encoded by extrachromosomal DNA, the plasmids. These are circular pieces of DNA, which are much smaller than the hosts genome and which replicate ...
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