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Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike

Forget needles in haystacks. Try finding the tip of a needle in a virus. Scientists have long known that a group of viruses called bacteriophages have a knack for infiltrating bacteria and that some begin their attack with a protein spike. But the tip of this spike is so small that no one knew w... Read More

19th Century Shipwreck Beer Could Be Recreated

Beer discovered two years ago onboard a shipwreck from the mid-1800s could possibly be recreated using living bacteria discovered in the brew, Finnish researchers announced last Thursday.

According to Terhi Kinnunen of Reuters, Annika Wilhelmson from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland s... Read More

Worm kills insects by vomiting Hulk-like bacteria

Insects have been around for almost 400 million years. That’s plenty of time for evolution to fashion countless horrific deaths for them. Case in point: some insects die because a little worm vomits glowing bacteria inside their bodies.

The worm is Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, a microscopic... Read More

NGS-Based Genomic Epidemiology on Livestock MRSA Strain Provides Tools to Predict Future Trajectory

Researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute, the Technical University of Denmark, and elsewhere used whole-genome sequence typing to retrace the evolutionary history of a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain currently found in livestock back to its antibiotic-sus... Read More

As a biological weapon, H5N1 is for the birds (Opinion)

Reuters columnist Peter Christian Hall believes the possibility that H5N1 could be effectively weaponized is remote and there is more harm than good in withholding data from two research papers that outline the methods to create an aerosolized strain of avian flu in ferrets.

"Amid the furor ... Read More

In First, Software Emulates Lifespan of Entire Organism

Scientists at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute have developed the first software simulation of an entire organism, a humble single-cell bacterium that lives in the human genital and respiratory tracts.

The scientists and other experts said the work was a giant step toward... Read More

Sheets of virus generate electricity when squished

Squishing a stack of virus sheets generates enough electricity to power a small liquid crystal display. With increased power output, these virus films might one day use the beating of your heart to power a pacemaker, the researchers behind them say.

Piezoelectric materials build up charge whe... Read More

Life's Most Amazing Invisible Secrets

One of my heroes, evolutionary microbiologist Lynn Margulis, died this past Thanksgiving. She was an amazing lady who was married to Carl Sagan for many years, and partnered with James Lovelock in discovering that the earth is an interconnected living global ecosystem run largely by microbes. Sh... Read More

Building the perfect bug

This past February I was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Company on the topic of the Fouchier and Kawaoka experiments on avian influenza virus H5N1. The video, Building the Perfect Bug, has been released by Journeyman Pictures and includes interviews with S.T. Lai, Laurie Garrett, Mic... Read More

TWiV 180 Letters

Rohit writes:


Hi Dr Racaniello,


I am a long time listener of TWIV and really enjoy the informal scientific discussions. I listen to TWIV while working in the lab and am trying to catch up on TWIM and TWIP episodes too.


I have been dill... Read More

HIV and TB at the White House (photo)

Photo taken by Joshua Yospyn for WJLA TV at the We Can End AIDS march in Washington, D.C. Read More

The Rise of Genomic Superspreaders

One hundred million years ago the earth’s climate was much warmer than today and vast inland seas stretched across entire continents. The land was dominated by charismatic megafauna that would one day serve as inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World. This period is commonly... Read More

London prepares for Olympian disease-monitoring task

As the world’s athletes limber up for the forthcoming Olympic games in London, infectious-disease experts are preparing for their own trials. Their competition is with the diseases that millions of athletes, officials, media and spectators bring with them as they converge from across the globe o... Read More

TWiM 26 Letters

Peter writes:
Dear Twim team

An interesting paper on artificial selection of yeast giving rise to evolved  clusters. The clusters evolved to be larger, produce multicellular progeny, and even s... Read More

Replication of immunodeficiency virus in humans

The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), which attacks the immune system and leaves infected individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections. AIDS and HIV-1 are thought to have a relatively short history in humans, with the... Read More

TWiV 162 Letters

Sarah writes:


Hello to the TWiV crew,


Here are a couple of picks I thought would be good for provoking thought and generating discussion...


While working on a project, I came across some papers attempting to define what "critical thinking" means. I app... Read More

What Happened to Our Friendly Enterococci?

Enterococci had been generally regarded as benign commensals, a part of our healthy intestinal microbiota. They were even invited in, being used as probiotics. But then, in the late 1970s, the first multiple drug-resistant strains appeared, and vancomycin-resistant strains followed in 1981. In r... Read More

100 trillion good bacteria call human body home

In the search for new life, scientists have studied the depths of the ocean and the lips of steaming volcanoes. They've looked on Mars and the moons of Jupiter, and even planets beyond this solar system.

Dr. David Relman went searching inside his own mouth. On a routine dental visit in 1998, ... Read More

Yankee ‘invaders’ threaten UK’s crayfish

Better resistance to parasites and a less fussy diet are allowing aggressive signal crayfish from the US to threaten white-clawed crayfish native to Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire crayfish suffers from two parasites: plague, which is carried by the American invader, and porcelain disease that makes... Read More

New bug eats sulfates, makes two kinds of magnet

A bacterium recently discovered near Death Valley has some very unusual properties according to a report published in the December 23 issue of Science magazine. While some ‘bugs’ are like migratory birds, making tiny magnets that they use to guide their navigation, this is the first bacterium to... Read More

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