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TWiP 58: People, parasites, and plowshares



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello and Dickson Despommier


Guest: Cali Despommier

... Read More

Bacterial pair puts the fix on undersea nitrogen

Two species of bacteria living on the ocean floor have teamed up in a unique symbiotic relationship to form a critical link in the Earth’s nitrogen cycle, reports a research team that includes two University of California, Davis, microbiologists.

The scientists, led by researchers affiliated ... Read More

What Makes Good Bacteria Go Bad? It's Not Them, It's You

Imagine a friend of a friend brings his family to stay with you — his family of tiny survivalists. For weeks or months you all live quietly side by side with no problems. You share meals. Your kids play together.

Then one day you get sick — maybe felled by a bad cold or the flu. Suddenly cert... Read More

Virologists plan influenza H7N9 gain of function experiments

A group of virologists lead by Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Ron Fouchier have sent a letter to Nature and Science outlining the experiments they propose to carry out with influenza H7N9 virus. Avian influenza H7N9 virus has caused over 130 human infections in China with 43 fatalities. The source of the... Read More

TWiM #61: The irony of probiotics



Hosts: Vincent RacanielloElio Schaechter and  Read More

TWiM 61 Letters

Nate writes:


Hi my name is Nate. I am a senior in high school aspiring to become a microbiologist. I heard about this podcast through a class I took on biotechnology and have been listening for about 2 months. I really enjoy it and the other two shows... Read More

Financial Advice from Germs

For many, the totality of economics can be somewhat unnerving, especially when it comes to personal financial security. We live in a capitalist world driven by free markets and personal investments. Making the right choices with money could mean incredible success, while a mistake could cost som... Read More

Bat killing WNS fungus confirmed in Arkansas

A fungus that leads to a deadly disease that has killed almost seven million bats in the US is continuing its spread westwards, results have shown.

Officials said the disease had been confirmed in Arkansas after samples tested positive for the fungus known to cause white-nose syndrome (WNS).
... Read More

Gene protects beer crop from nasty fungus

Finding the gene that gives barley resistance to leaf rust could benefit people who rely on the crop for food and beer.

Researchers have discovered that the gene Rph20 provides resistance to leaf rust in some barley variety adult plants.

“Leaf rust is a fungal disease that could destroy al... Read More

Genetic Code Shows Bird Flu In China Spread Between People

When a new strain of bird flu cropped up in China last winter, the billion-dollar question was whether the deadly virus could transmit between people.

Now, Chinese scientists offer the first clear evidence that the bird flu is indeed contagious, although only slightly.

A father, who became... Read More

Best Way to Kill Lab Animals Sought

Researchers are gathering this week to debate the most humane methods of dispatching lab animals, which are primarily rodents. Killing research animals is one of the most unpleasant tasks in science, and it is imperative to do it as humanely as possible. But researchers who study animal welfare... Read More

The grim trail of bacteria left by flies in hot weather is revealed

The current hot spell of weather has seen increased activities by flies whether in the kitchen or across picnic food and barbecues.

It may make grim reading but every fly leaves a calling card in the form of bacterial deposits.

These deposits come not only from their legs, but also from th... Read More

From harmless colonizers to virulent pathogens: UB microbiologists identify what triggers disease

The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae harmlessly colonizes the mucous linings of throats and noses in most people, only becoming virulent when they leave those comfortable surroundings and enter the middle ears, lungs or bloodstream. Now, in research published in July in mBio, University at Buff... Read More

Amoeba farms bacteria for food and weapons

There are new details about how the world’s smallest farmer picks up edible bacteria and then harvests them like crops.

The organism, a social amoeba called Dictyostelium discoideum, carries not one but two strains of bacteria. One strain is the “seed corn” for a crop of edible bacteria, and ... Read More

This Psychedelic Art Is Actually Bacteria

This swirling mass may look like some kind of LSD trip, but it's actually fractal artwork created using bacteria.

Produced by Eshel Ben-Jacob—a scientist-cum-artist at Tel Aviv University—the piece came about thanks to two strains of bacteria which grew together in interesting and weird ways.... Read More

Super sunscreen from fjord bacteria

Norwegian researchers have recently discovered a microorganism with very special properties – a bacteria living in Trondheim Fjord with the Latin name Micrococcus luteus. It possesses a trait which is rare and highly sought-after by medical science and the cosmetics industry – a pigment which ca... Read More

Hog Farms Battling to Contain Deadly Virus

The outside world is not allowed in a sanitized and isolated pig farm here, not far from the Iowa border.

Visitors must shower before entering, scrubbing from head to toe, trading their street clothes for disinfected coveralls that have never left the premises. Everything inside the temperatu... Read More

China halts import of New Zealand milk powder because of botulism bacteria

China has halted imports of some New Zealand milk powders after a company disclosed that three batches of an ingredient used in sports drinks and baby formula tested positive for a strain of bacteria that causes botulism.

The New Zealand-based Fonterra Group said Saturday that three batches o... Read More

From The Program of 1st Annual Meeting Society of American Bacteriologists, 1899

Wouldn’t you be tempted to attend such a session if it were part of a current-day ASM meeting? The first five papers ever delivered to a meeting of the Society of American Bacteriologist (now the ASM) are so utterly relevant to our concerns that they could be delivered now. No changes to the ti... Read More

Weathering the Storm…the Archaeal Way

Our understanding of microbial life is greatly biased by our narrow focus on microbes as they grow in the laboratory. Yet, as discussed previously in this blog, microbes can persist in various dormant forms for extended periods of time. Sporulation (from the Greek “spora” or seed) is perhaps the... Read More

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