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From Geology to Biology: A Serpentine Story of Early Life

Over 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth was a superheated sphere of molten rock, radiating heat to space at over 2000 K. A billion years later, it had global oceans, teeming with microorganisms. In that time, the Earth underwent massive geological changes, somehow serendipitously creating conditio... Read More

Reprogrammed Bacteria Build Self-Healing ‘Living Materials’

How handy would it be if, instead of taking your broken circuit board to the Genius Bar (again), you could just prompt it to heal itself? That’s the futuristic possibility researchers have recently inched ever so slightly toward, with the development of hybrid “living materials” made from bacter... Read More

Fighting Cholera With Mass Vaccination

When studying bacteria it is quite easy to get fascinated with them as a laboratory specimen while forgetting the huge impact they can have in real life societies. I find the PLoS journal of Neglected Tropical diseases redresses that as it covers work with bacteria and parasites from the front l... Read More

TWiV 278: Flushing HIV down the zinc



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Dickson Despommier, Read More

Concrete-Dissolving Bacteria Are Destroying Our Nation's Sewers

Underground in places nobody likes to look, bacteria are doing terrible things to our sewage pipes. The concrete pipes that carry our waste are literally dissolving away, forcing engineers into a messy, expensive battle against tiny microbes.

"The veins of our cities are in serious trouble, a... Read More

Florida Bill Would Combat Superbug Threat

A bill to track drug-resistant infections has been introduced in Florida, inspired in part by FRONTLINE’s Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Janet Adkins, a Republican, requires the state health department to maintain an online record of the type and location of any a... Read More

TWiP 69: Malaria rising



Hosts: Vincent Racaniello and Dickson Despommier Read More

TWiP 69 letters


Richard writes:


Hi Vincent and Dickson,


I enjoy TWIP, and often recommend it to my students. I'm a parasitologist, primarily a Leishmaniac, but I have learnt a lot from TWIP. I find it both more educational and entertaining than Car Talk.


The disc... Read More

Heartland virus disease

Six new cases of Heartland virus disease have been identified in residents of Missouri and Tennessee. The cause of this disease appears to be a member of the Phlebovirus genus in the Bunyaviridae family that was first identified in 2009 and appears to be transmitted by the Lone Star tick (Amblyo... Read More

Pet cats infect two people with TB

Two people in England have developed tuberculosis after contact with a domestic cat, Public Health England has announced.

The two human cases are linked to nine cases of Mycobacterium bovis infection in cats in Berkshire and Hampshire last year.

Both people were responding to treatment, PH... Read More

New probiotic improves pig health, reduces manure output

A new probiotic for pigs could mean less manure to manage, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists conducted the first published investigation of the use of bacteria as a probiotic to increase fiber fermentation rates and reduce ... Read More

Computing with Slime

A future computer might be a lot slimier than the solid silicon devices we have today. In a study published in the journal Materials Today, European researchers reveal details of logic units built using living slime molds, which might act as the building blocks for computing devices and sensors.... Read More

Using tobacco to thwart West Nile virus

An international research group led by Arizona State University professor Qiang "Shawn" Chen has developed a new generation of potentially safer and more cost-effective therapeutics against West Nile virus, and other pathogens. The therapeutics, known as monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and their de... Read More

Researchers Identify Protein That Helps Control Common Viral Infection

Infectious disease specialists at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center have identified a protein that regulates the body’s immune response to cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common pathogen that causes lifelong infections and can lead to devastating illness in newborns and those with weakened immune sys... Read More

Pathogens in Cheese – Researchers Follow the Traces of Deadly Bacteria

If food products are not produced in a hygienic environment, consumers can face the threat of dangerous pathogens. This is exactly what happened in 2009 and 2010 when two different strains of Listeria monocytogenes were found in the traditional Austrian curd cheese known as “Quargel”. 34 people ... Read More

Rotavirus Activates Lymphocytes from Non-Obese Diabetic Mice by Triggering Toll-Like Receptor 7 Signaling and Interferon Production in Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells

It has been proposed that rotavirus infection promotes the progression of genetically-predisposed children to type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease marked by infiltration of activated lymphocytes into pancreatic islets. Non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice provide a model for the human disease.... Read More

Oral Bacteria and Cancer

Over a number of years, epidemiological studies established several well-defined risk factors for cancer, including age, heredity, diet, tobacco use, chronic viral infections, and inflammation. Paradoxically, the success of these studies left little room for incorporation of any new factors or c... Read More

Engineered Bacteria Produce Biofuel Alternative for High-Energy Rocket Fuel

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications. With improvements ... Read More

Resistance is Not Futile: Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Engineer Resistance to Ionic Liquids in Biofuel Microbes

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a multi-institutional partnership led by Berkeley Lab, have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bact... Read More

Popular probiotics have few cons, experts say

Every year, half of all Americans take some kind of pill as insurance against their diets.

But recently, researchers have noticed a surprising trend: Use of some of the most popular supplements is waning, possibly because of recent reports questioning their benefits and raising awareness abou... Read More

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