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Measles in the brain: Fusion gone awry

The entry of enveloped viruses into cells begins when the membrane that surrounds these virus particles fuse with a cell membrane. The process of virus-cell fusion must be tightly regulated, to make sure it happens in the right cells. The fusion activity of measles viruses isolated from the brai... Read More

Satellites - the viral kind

Satellites are subviral agents that differ from viroids because they depend on the presence of a helper virus for their propagation. Satellite viruses are particles that contain nucleic acid genomes encoding a structural protein that encapsidates the satellite genome. Satellite RNAs do not encod... Read More

Freshman Biology Creative Projects

I am a big believer that different pedagogical approaches can "reach" different students. In most of my classes, I give students an optional assignment: come up with a creative project that explores some aspect of class. This takes several steps. First, I make the students come up with an ide... Read More

Viroids, infectious agents that encode no proteins

Genomes of non-defective viruses range in size from 2,400,000 bp of dsDNA (Pandoravirus salinus) to 1,759 bp of ssDNA (porcine circovirus). Are even smaller viral genomes possible? The subviral agents called viroids provide an answer to this question.

Viroids, the smallest known pathogens, ar... Read More

Sushi protects mosquitoes from lethal virus infections

As far as I know, mosquitoes do not eat sushi. But mosquito cells have proteins with sushi repeat domains, and these proteins protect the brain from lethal virus infections. Read More

Retroviral influence on human embryonic development

About eight percent of human DNA is viral: it consists of retroviral genomes produced by infections that occurred many years ago. These endogenous retroviruses are passed from parent to child in our DNA. Some of these viral genomes are activated for a brief time during human embryogenesis, sugge... Read More

HeLa RNA is everywhere

The first immortal human cell line ever produced, HeLa, originated from a cervical adenocarcinoma taken from Henrietta Lacks. The cell line grew so well that it was used in many laboratories and soon was found to contaminate other cell lines. Now HeLa RNA has made its way into human sequence dat... Read More

TWiP 86 letters

Jan writes:

Dear Doctors

This one is a bit more tricky; both Giardia and Cryptosporidium are possible. The symptoms are more those of Cryptosporidium, so that would be my semi-educated guess. Most of that education comes through you, with some help of some CDC... Read More

TWiV 357: Mistletoe and the Tree of Life

Hosts: Vincent RacanielloDickson DespommierAlan Dove Read More

Mineralization of sand particles boosts microbial water filtration

Mineral coatings on sand particles actually encourage microbial activity in the rapid sand filters that are used to treat groundwater for drinking, according to a paper published ahead of print in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. These findings resoundingly refute, for the first time, the... Read More

Infectious agents with no genome

If the reader does not believe that viroids and satellites are distinctive, then surely prions, infectious agents composed only of protein, must impress.

The question of whether infectious agents exist without genomes arose with the discovery and characterization of infectious agents associat... Read More

Immunological Reaction of Poison Ivy - Explained Through Poetry

Immunology Explained Through Poetry - What happens when one touches a poison ivy?


Billy was at summer camp,
And wanted to feel like a champ,
So he searched for a flower,
That would stop Susie’s glower,
But found poison ivy instead.

While Billy was later playing,
He had no i... Read More

Should you consider attending ASM 2015 this spring?

The general program for the 2015 American Society of Microbiology meeting in New Orleans is out, and registration is now open. The sessions look incredible, and I've listed them below as I imagine they might resonate with many of the readers of this blog. The bolded sessions look particularly in... Read More

"Never Really Alone" with Rob Dunn

As part of my freshman writing seminar in the Fall of 2014, I was fortunate to have a number of fascinating experts in symbioses and parasitism be willing to "televisit" my students. Here is Dr. Rob Dunn of North Carolina State University, discussing his laboratory's work with Demodex face mite... Read More

My First #LuxArt Class Competition!

In this blog post, I discuss making student designed artwork using bioluminescent bacteria as "paint." As student "buy in" is critical for any course, such fun "creative" approaches act synergistically to improve learning and outcomes. Feel free to vote on your top six images---the students ar... Read More

Livestock-Associated Staphylococcus aureus: The United States Experience

Animal associated S. aureus are distinct from human strains but some recent studies suggested the human infection caused by animal origin strain of MRSA. Extensive and unregulated use of antibiotic in animal husbandry might be one of the causes for development of multidrug resistant strain. Tran... Read More

Surprise in Lab

Unknown fungi isolated from soil sample.I would like to have inputs from the Mycologist in the forum about this fungal colony,its identification,name,species and genus? Read More

Long-term effects of Ebolavirus infection

The thousands of survivors of the Ebolavirus outbreak in western Africa – more than at any other time – are fortunate to have survived the disease. However, their health problems are not behind them. A new study shows that the survivors of Ebolavirus have long-term sequelae more than 2 years aft... Read More

Viral genomes in 700 year old caribou scat

Recovering viral genomes from ancient specimens can provide information about viral evolution, but not many old nucleic acids have been identified. A study of 700 year old caribou feces reveals that viruses can be protected for long periods of time – under the right conditions. Read More

How influenza virus infection might lead to gastrointestinal symptoms

Human influenza viruses replicate almost exclusively in the respiratory tract, yet infected individuals may also have gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In mice, intestinal injury occurs in the absence of viral replication, and is a consequence of viral depletion of the gut... Read More
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