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Getting Started with MicrobeWorld

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Capturing viruses with bacteria

When my laboratory discovered the cell receptor for poliovirus in 1989, many new research directions were suddenly revealed – such as creating a mouse model for poliomyelitis. One application we did not think of was to use the receptor to screen samples of drinking water for the presence of viru... Read More

The New Scientist's Swine Flu Resources Page

The New Scientist has put together a nice collection of articles and information about the swine flu on it's site. Read More

A viral mashup in snakes

If you know anything about snakes you might be familiar with snake inclusion body disease, or IBD. This transmissible and fatal disease affects snakes of a variety of species but has been best studied in boas. The name comes from the presence of large masses (inclusions) in the cytoplasm of cell... Read More

A spike for piercing the cell membrane

Some viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophages) deliver their DNA into the host cell with an amazing injection machine. The tailed bacteriophages (such as T4, illustrated) store their DNA in a capsid attached to a long tail tube that is surrounded by a sheath. At the bottom of the tube is a b... Read More

Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, 1925-2011

Glenn Rall, a virologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, sent me the following note:

Baruch S. Blumberg, Nobel Laureate in 1976 for discovery of Hepatitis B (and the eventual development of the vaccine, which probably has saved hundreds of thousands of lives since its introduction), died this pas... Read More

XMRV is a recombinant virus from mice

The novel human retrovirus XMRV has been associated with prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome. The nucleotide sequence of XMRV isolated from humans indicates that the virus is nearly identical with XMRV produced from a human prostate tumor cell line called 22Rv1. This cell line was deriv... Read More

Tiny snow-makers

The Judges' Choice for The Scientist magazine's 2011 Labby Multimedia Awards is this cute video on how microbes are essential for snow formation.













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TWiV 172 Letters

Greg writes:


Dear TWiV,


The epidemiology episode with Michael Walsh was great. I loved the philosophical detour into counterfactual statements, time travel, and the meaning of causation. TWiV may indeed be viral, but from listening to it I fee... Read More

Kawaoka paper published on aerosol transmission of H5 influenza virus in ferrets

One of two papers on avian influenza H5N1 virus that caused such a furor in the past six months was published today in the journal Nature. I have read it, and I can assure you that the results do not enable the construction of a deadly biological weapon. Instead, they illuminate important requir... Read More

TWiV 143 Letters



Judi writes:


Hello People of TWIV!


Thanks for all the information you give and how you make me think. I really liked your discussions on TWIV 136 - exit XMRV, not as much for the science ( which was cool) but for the discussio... Read More

TWiV 152: Viromes in the effluence of society

Unable to embed Rapid1Pixelout audio player. Please double check that:  1)You have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.  2)This web page does not have any fatal Javascript errors.  3)The audio-player.js file of Rapid1Pixelout has been included.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Al... Read More

Publication of XMRV papers should not be blocked

The findings by the NIH and FDA that XMRV is associated with chronic fatigue syndrome has been accepted for publication by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Release of the article has been blocked by PNAS due to work carried out by the US Centers for Disease Control and... Read More

El podcast del Microbio Nº 217. La sepia y la bacteria (the squid and the bacteria)



























El podcast del Microbio Nº217 describes the symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and the bacteria Vibrio fischeri.... Read More

TWiV 90 Letters

Eric writes:


Hi Vincent,


After 86 episodes of TWiV, I am still loving every minute of the podcast and I am constantly impressed with how much I learn. For example, I have been mentoring an undergraduate student in the lab and we have had a rough two week stret... Read More

XMRV, prostate cancer, and chronic fatigue syndrome

Robert H. Silverman, one of the authors on the study implicating the new human retrovirus XMRV as an etiologic agent of chronic fatigue syndrome, has written an excellent review article on the current status of research on the virus. The article is behind a paywall at Nature Reviews Urology, so ... Read More

Conserved amino acid markers from past influenza pandemic strains

A recent paper published on Biomedcenteral by Jonathan E Allen , Shea N Gardner , Elizabeth A Vitalis, and Tom R Slezak discovers that new genetic markers for human host-specificity and high lethality in influenza viruses were identified by considering combinations of amino acids conserved amon... Read More

TWiV 124 Letters

Norm writes:


First, I love your podcasts.


You guys are constantly grousing about the lack of research funding.


I was curious.


NIH, funding has risen every year since 2000, from $17B to the current $31B (supports 325,000 researchers)


NSF... Read More

David and Goliath: How one cytokine may take down influenza

Recent research has suggested a new method of flu prevention and treatment: the administration of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to the lungs of mice significantly reduced flu symptoms and prevented mortality after a lethal dose of influenza virus. GM-CSF helps the bod... Read More

Automating the survey of protein locations: the trials and tribulations

An article by Alan Derman, Project Scientist in Joe Pogliano’s lab at the University of California at San Diego, published on the Small Things Considered blog presents a point-by-point analysis of a paper "Quantitative genome-scale analysis of protein localization in an asymmetric bacterium" pub... Read More

TWiV 140 Letters

from @Lafrenchfille on Twitter:


French listen to your very cool podcast. So I can confirm, "Mimi" is french !


Peter writes:


Regarding the podcasting advice from the fellow in Israel.


Explain st... Read More

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