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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 th... Read More

The unseen power of microbes - Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D (video)

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. How can we possibly harness evaporation and say, run the engine of a car, lift heavy weights, and generate electricity? While investigating the mysterious wrinkles seen in the protective coats of bacterial ... Read More

Scientists find way to trap, kill malaria parasite

Scientists may be able to entomb the malaria parasite in a prison of its own making, researchers report. As it invades a red blood cell, the malaria parasite takes part of the host cell's membrane to build a protective compartment. The parasite then starts a series of major renovations that tran... Read More

Fungus in yogurt outbreak poses threat to consumers

The fungus responsible for an outbreak of contaminated Greek yogurt last year is not harmless after all but a strain with the ability to cause disease, according to research. "When people think about food-borne pathogens, normally they list bacteria, viruses, and maybe parasites. Fungal pathogen... Read More

Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious disease between individuals

Could a fist bump be a cleaner, better way for people to greet each other, especially in germy hospitals? British researchers have done an experiment that seems to say yes.

They tested just how many bacteria are transferred hand to hand during a handshake, a high-five and a fist bump. Handsha... Read More

Land of the bacteria-eaters

For hospital workers an outbreak of harmful bacteria in the wards is a nightmare, but what gives bacteria nightmares?

Perhaps the prospect of being eaten alive by a kind of viral parasite called a bacteriophage (bacteria eater): unlike antibiotics, which some bacteria have evolved a resistanc... Read More

Visiting biosafety level-4 laboratories

Experiments with the most dangerous human viruses, such as Ebola virus and Lassa virus, are carried out in biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories. Since visiting the Northeast Infectious Diseases Laboratory BSL-4 and releasing the documentary video Threading the NEIDL, I was given the opportunit... Read More

Cell Discovery Could Lead to Strep Throat Vaccine

A new study clarifies how Group A Streptococcus (strep) bacteria resist the human immune system.

The research could eventually lead to the development of a safe vaccine against strep throat, necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), and rheumatic heart disease.

Previous efforts to deve... Read More

LEGO Reveals Female Scientist Minifigures

After much rejoicing at the news last month that LEGO would mass-produce a set of female scientist minifigures, the company has released a prototype of the final set to its original designer, Ellen Kooijman (a.k.a. Alatariel Elensar), who recently posted images of the box and individual parts on... Read More

Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy

Unlike any other life on Earth, these extraordinary bacteria use energy in its purest form – they eat and breathe electrons – and they are everywhere

STICK an electrode in the ground, pump electrons down it, and they will come: living cells that eat electricity. We have known bacteria to surv... Read More

We Are Our Bacteria

We may think of ourselves as just human, but we’re really a mass of microorganisms housed in a human shell. Every person alive is host to about 100 trillion bacterial cells. They outnumber human cells 10 to one and account for 99.9 percent of the unique genes in the body.

Katrina Ray, a senio... Read More

Microbial to Human Cell Ratio: Just Bragging Rights?

Microbiota buffs repeat it often these days, proudly reminding the public that the microbial cells associated with humans outnumber their host cells by a ratio of ten-to-one. In his letter in the February 2014 Microbe, however, Judah L. Rosner of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes a s... Read More

Ötzi's non-human DNA: Opportunistic pathogen discovered in Iceman tissue biopsy


EURAC and University of Vienna discover an opportunistic pathogen in an Iceman tissue biopsy

Ötzi’s human genome was decoded from a hip bone sample taken from the 5,300 year old mummy. However the tiny sample weighing no more than 0.1 g provides so much more information. A team of scientist... Read More

When the Microbe Hits the Metal

Some heavy metals share a long history with microbes. Many of the metabolic processes that sustain life are believed to have originated from spontaneous reactions involving metals present in the early Earth. Our microbial ancestors figured out quickly how to use those metal catalysts to generate... Read More

Sugar Protects Cells from Bacterial Invasion

No admission for bacteria: Scientists from the University of Freiburg have succeeded in preventing Pseudomonas bacteria from entering host cells with the help of a sugar complex. Dr. Thorsten Eierhoff and junior professor Dr. Winfried Römer from the Institute of Biologie II, both members of the ... Read More

Poor Oversight Catches Up with High-Security Infectious Agent and Disease Labs

The Centers for Disease Control plans to take measures to better protect lab workers and the rest of us from dangerous biological samples.

Twenty-one dead lab chickens piled up this spring at a government facility before its researchers could pinpoint why. The team had requested and received ... Read More

Bacterial Respiratory Tract Colonization Prior to Catching the Flu May Protect Against Severe Illness

Many studies have shown that more severe illness and even death are likely to result if you develop a secondary respiratory infection after developing influenza. Now, however, a team of researchers based at The Wistar Institute has determined that if you reverse the order of infection, the bacte... Read More

New research from Africa on pharmacomicrobiomics

The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) is a global initiative to identify and characterize the microorganisms present at multiple sites in the human body. An international team of researchers reports on new ways to harness the results of the HMP and discusses how changes in the microbiome might affe... Read More

Choosing cheese: Research identifies microbial communities in cheese

After studying 137 varieties of cheese collected in 10 different countries, researchers have been able to identify three general types of microbial communities that live on cheese, opening the door to using each as a 'model' community for the study of whether and how various microbes and fungi c... Read More

Diseases of Another Kind

The drought that has the entire country in its grip is affecting more than the color of people’s lawns. It may also be responsible for the proliferation of a heat-loving amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, which the drought has made warmer than... Read More
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