microbes

Sourdough bread is a microbial mystery

Baking is hard. Baking sourdough bread is even harder, because you have to rely on wild yeasts and bacteria to make your bread rise. But we don't know much about how these tiny organisms work. So researchers at NC State collected hundreds of sourdough starters from all over the world to try to understand the secret lives of microbes.

Dirt On Dirt

What’s in dirt anyway?

Admit it.

After sinking the shovel or trowel into the ground to plant something, you end up looking at the dirt that is pulled up and asking yourself, “Just what is in dirt that helps plants to grow?”

We’ve all asked the question at some point. So, to keep things really simple, the answer is that there is a lot of 'stuff' in dirt — including rocks, sand, clay and organic matter. The United States Environmental Protection Agency says the average soil sample is 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter.

Rapid Water Test

The greatest danger for beachgoers may be millions of microbes also swimming in the water. While many are there naturally, stormwater runoff and sewage system failures can overwhelm coastal waters. One percent of NC's beaches were closed for short times in 2012 because of microbial contaminants. A marine biologist has now developed a rapid water test to keep the public safe.