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The Black Queen Hypothesis: how microbes lose a necessary function and survive to tell the tale

Pared down genomes are the norm in symbiotic microbes, but how do non-symbionts get away with cutting out functions it would appear that they need? The authors of an Opinion piece in mBio this week explain their ideas about the matter. They say microbes that shed necessary functions may well be ... Read More

TWiP 38 Letters

Carlos writes:


Dear Vincent Racaniello and Dickson Despommier


I am an avid listener of TWIP since its start, have been following TWIV for at least two years and, surprise, also follow TWIM.


My field is Computer Science, but I crave for... Read More

TWiV 173: Going to bat for flu research



Hosts: Vincent RacanielloAlan Dove Read More

TWiV 170: From variolous effluvia to VLPs



Hosts: Alan DoveRich Condit, and Dickson Despommier<... Read More

A Bioluminescent Microbial Holiday Season!

For a holiday card, my wife and I made a Christmas Tree with bioluminescent ornaments. The video shows how the tree looks in natural light, and then by its own light. The bacterium is Photobacterium leiognathi, isolated by Ned Ruby and Eric Stabb in Hawai'i. This is another example of where mi... Read More

Fungi that steal genes from bacteria

In order to survive in complex and interesting environments in the wild, bacteria have a whole arsenal of chemical products that they make within the cell. These chemicals are used for signalling, defence and communication between bacterial cells. One particular group of these chemicals is calle... Read More

Vaginas Host Dynamic Battleground for Microbes, Study Finds

The human vagina is a lively place, full of beneficial bacteria that discourage nasty microbes from invading. Now, new research finds this ecosystem is even more mysterious than previously realized.

Not only do women vary widely in what sorts of microbes call the vagina home, the study finds,... Read More

Millions of germs fly when you enter the room

A person’s mere presence in a room can add 37 million bacteria to the air every hour, a new study finds.

The bacterial material is largely left behind by previous occupants and stirred up from the floor when someone enters.

“We live in this microbial soup, and a big ingredient is our own m... Read More

Watch as unicellular yeast evolve into snowflake-like clusters

In as little as 100 generations, yeast selected to settle more quickly through a test tube evolved into multicellular, snowflake-like clusters, according to a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Over the course of the experiment, the clusters evolved to be larger,... Read More

TWiM 31 Letters

Peter writes:

Dear TWiM Team


A fascinating article from New Scientist this week.


Standard medical teaching is that the foetus is sterile and that the microbiome only begins to develop post natal.


New research from Spain indicates that the microbiome s... Read More

Small Things Considered: Where Mathematicians & Biologists Meet

Mathematics and Biology have a long history together. It goes back to early studies on epidemiology (such as John Snow‘s on cholera and the Broad Street pump), and includes Ross’s quantitative studies that show how malaria can be controlled by careful analysis of data. And, of course, there are ... Read More

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the CDC: A Long, Tangled Tale

David Tuller, health journalist and Berkeley faculty member, has written a piece on the CDC's handling of CFS. His account draws from interviews, a close reading of a fraction of the 4608 epidemiologic studies that pop up on a PubMed search for “chronic fatigue syndrome,” and a review of many pa... Read More

I can haz ASM talks

An I Can Haz Cheezburger meme for ASM's General Meeting in San Francisco created by artist Michele Banks. Read More

SGM 2012 Julian Davies "Microbes, Molecules & Me"

Julian Davies, University of British Columbia, discusses the future of antibiotics in his Society for General Microbiology Prize Medal Lecture at the Society for General Microbiology 2012 Spring Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Read More

Prominent Virologists Want U.S. Advisory Board to Take a Second Look at Controversial Flu Papers

A group of seventeen virologists is asking a U.S. government biosecurity advisory board to reconsider its controversial recommendation that two research teams omit key details from papers in press at Science and Nature. They note that the H5N1 fatality rate quoted widely is incorrect, and that ... Read More

Bacteria's slimy biofilm could help humans

Bacteria and other microbes love living in slimy communities that cling to riverbed rocks and swimming pool walls, contaminate factory equipment and medical implants, and sometimes coat the teeth as plaque. When such microbe gatherings stick to a hard surface, they’re called biofilms. They're al... Read More

Legal opinion: H5N1 research and the limits of government regulation of science

John D. Kraemer, JD, MPH, assistant professor of health systems administration at Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, and Lawrence O. Gostin, the Linda D. and Timothy J. O’Neill Professor of Global Health Law and faculty director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Gl... Read More

TWiV 189: Five postdocs in Glasgow



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Vanessa Cowton, Mary Holton, Mark Robinson, Swetha Vijayakrishnan, and Gavin Wilkie


Vincent returns to t... Read More

Arabidopsis leaf injected with a pathogen

This is a magnified view of an Arabidopsis thaliana leaf eight days after being infected with the pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis, which is closely related to crop pathogens that cause 'downy mildew' diseases. It is also more distantly related to the agent that caused the Irish potato fa... Read More

Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly Infections Associated with Spicy Tuna Rolls

Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health agencies indicate that a frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, known as Nakaochi Scrape, from Moon Marine USA Corporation is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly infections. Nakaochi Scrape is tuna b... Read More

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