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TWiM 83 Letters

Matt writes:

Hello TWiM team,

It was great seeing some of you at ASM last week in Boston either in passing between sessions or at the live TWiV episode. I have a few questions about the ASM meeting:
What was something that you all took away from ASM that was particularly interesting, inspiring, or changed your views about a topic?

Second, from episode 78 (a bacterium grows in Brooklyn). There was discussion at some point about the hypoxic environment of the hemolymph impacting the growth of the fungus. That raises a question: I thought that the hemolymph was the ‘blood’ equivalent for insects and I presumed it would be oxygen rich. That made me think about oxygen utilization by bacteria in an animal’s blood stream: blood in animals is oxygen rich, but is mostly bound by hemoglobin. Are bacteria that end up going septic able to utilize that oxygen bound by hemoglobin or must they be able to survive in a ‘hypoxic’ state?

I can’t remember talking about this in my bacteriology classes and my notes and a quick search around the web didn’t turn up a clear answer.

As always, it is a pleasure to listen and learn from all of the TWiX podcasts.
Cheers,
Matt Sammons

Washington State University
Washington/Idaho/Utah Regional Program
College of Veterinary Medicine
Class of 2016

John writes:

Dear recently evolved hosts:

It is 28 degrees C in Grand Junction, Colorado.

At episode 75 time 1:18:10 Vincent suggests that icky stuff that came
out of us probably can't hurt us because it was already in us.
Coincidentally, one of my oldest memories is watching a baby trying to
eat the contents of its diaper and asking my father what happened if
you did that. I suggest listening to an interesting podcast called
"This Week In Parasitism" where the hosts describe parasite life
cycles that depend on recycling waste.

I have two comments on episode 74 time 8:00-10:00.

1. I was confused by the discussion of which species have
endosymbionts. I don't think you were using a consistent definition.

Both cows and humans depend on symbiotic gut bacteria. Those bacteria
like their hosts, but remain potentially free living forms. They are
not obligate symbionts. (Is facultative symbiont a proper term?) In
contrast, mitochondria are obligate endosymbionts.

2. Youth as a species is not an excuse for not having symbionts or
other characteristics. Each of us, human, insect, or microbe,
belongs to a billion year old lineage, but not a billion year old
species. Individual insect species are of comparable age to humans as
a species. We could (and almost certainly did) inherit gut bacteria
from our ancestors, the same way extant termite species inherited
their bacteria from extinct ancestors.

I mention termites because coevolution of termites and their symbiotic
bacteria has been studied and parallel phylogenies reconstructed. I
am far away from my book collection but I recall this was explained in
_Evolution of the Insects_ by David Grimaldi and Michael Engel, which
is worth a read in any case.

http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Insects-Cambridge-Series/dp/0521821495

Jim writes:

Greetings Micro Monarchs:

Here in Vancouver, it is a wonderful spring afternoon; partially cloudy and 16 C.

I know Dr. R is a bit sensitive about sensationalizing science to scare the public but I must respond with a listener pick , based on the horror scenario of TWIM #78's fatal insect fungus sprouting out of human heads.

My pick is the audio play FUNGUS AMOUNG US by Steve Nubie & narrated by the supremely sinister sounding actor, Malcolm McDowell, and available at audible.com

This gem is right on target, mixing a mad scientist with bad science for some good clean fungus.

Still waiting for the first episode of TWIF.

Regards,

Jim

John writes:

Dear microbial incubators,

It is 40 C in Death Valley and I confess to writing from here in an attempt to win the weather report.‎ I am listening to TWiM during a long road trip.‎ Understanding takes some effort but I haven't crashed yet.

Regarding recent discussion of supplementing antibiotics with bacteria: Is it possible to engineer strains of E. coli ‎and other gut bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotics? Then ones microflora could survive antibiotics. The resistance would have to be a kind that is rare in the wild but that hospitals are accustomed to dealing with. This would reduce the consequences of trading resistance genes with pathogens.

Warmly,
John

 

 

 

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