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Engineering Life to Survive on Mars and Aid Human Colonization

With NASA’s Curiosity Rover safely on Mars and ready to search for signs of life, back on Earth attempts are underway to engineer bacteria that could thrive on the Red Planet.

A team of undergraduates from Stanford and Brown Universities are busy applying synthetic biology to space exploratio... Read More

Should Doctors Fire Their Anti-Vaccine Patients?

The anti-vaccination movement continues to grow, despite the retraction and thorough discrediting of the 1998 scientific study that spurred much of its growth. The stubborn persistence of anti-vaxxers shows how difficult it is to dispel misinformation once that information is out there, even af... Read More

NGS-Based Genomic Epidemiology on Livestock MRSA Strain Provides Tools to Predict Future Trajectory

Researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute, the Technical University of Denmark, and elsewhere used whole-genome sequence typing to retrace the evolutionary history of a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain currently found in livestock back to its antibiotic-sus... Read More

Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike

Forget needles in haystacks. Try finding the tip of a needle in a virus. Scientists have long known that a group of viruses called bacteriophages have a knack for infiltrating bacteria and that some begin their attack with a protein spike. But the tip of this spike is so small that no one knew w... Read More

19th Century Shipwreck Beer Could Be Recreated

Beer discovered two years ago onboard a shipwreck from the mid-1800s could possibly be recreated using living bacteria discovered in the brew, Finnish researchers announced last Thursday.

According to Terhi Kinnunen of Reuters, Annika Wilhelmson from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland s... Read More

Sheets of virus generate electricity when squished

Squishing a stack of virus sheets generates enough electricity to power a small liquid crystal display. With increased power output, these virus films might one day use the beating of your heart to power a pacemaker, the researchers behind them say.

Piezoelectric materials build up charge whe... Read More

TWiV 180 Letters

Rohit writes:


Hi Dr Racaniello,


I am a long time listener of TWIV and really enjoy the informal scientific discussions. I listen to TWIV while working in the lab and am trying to catch up on TWIM and TWIP episodes too.


I have been dill... Read More

In First, Software Emulates Lifespan of Entire Organism

Scientists at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute have developed the first software simulation of an entire organism, a humble single-cell bacterium that lives in the human genital and respiratory tracts.

The scientists and other experts said the work was a giant step toward... Read More

Building the perfect bug

This past February I was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Company on the topic of the Fouchier and Kawaoka experiments on avian influenza virus H5N1. The video, Building the Perfect Bug, has been released by Journeyman Pictures and includes interviews with S.T. Lai, Laurie Garrett, Mic... Read More

In First, Software Emulates Lifespan of Entire Organism

Scientists at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute have developed the first software simulation of an entire organism, a humble single-cell bacterium that lives in the human genital and respiratory tracts.

The scientists and other experts said the work was a giant step towar... Read More

Friendly Fungi: Elucidating the fungal biosynthesis of stipitatic acid

In a tale worthy of Sherlock Holmes, scientists in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, UK have solved a biochemical mystery that had previously proven elusive for 70 years: How the fungus Talaromyces stipitatus produces stipitatic acid (6), which is a tropolone, one of an atypi... Read More

100 trillion good bacteria call human body home

In the search for new life, scientists have studied the depths of the ocean and the lips of steaming volcanoes. They've looked on Mars and the moons of Jupiter, and even planets beyond this solar system.

Dr. David Relman went searching inside his own mouth. On a routine dental visit in 1998, ... Read More

Norton Zinder, 1928-2012

Norton Zinder made two important discoveries in the field of virology. While a Ph.D. student with Joshua Lederberg at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he found that viruses of bacteria (bacteriophages) could move genes from one host to another, a process called transduction. Later in his own ... Read More

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

Replication of immunodeficiency virus in humans

The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), which attacks the immune system and leaves infected individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections. AIDS and HIV-1 are thought to have a relatively short history in humans, with the... Read More

London prepares for Olympian disease-monitoring task

As the world’s athletes limber up for the forthcoming Olympic games in London, infectious-disease experts are preparing for their own trials. Their competition is with the diseases that millions of athletes, officials, media and spectators bring with them as they converge from across the globe o... Read More

Yankee ‘invaders’ threaten UK’s crayfish

Better resistance to parasites and a less fussy diet are allowing aggressive signal crayfish from the US to threaten white-clawed crayfish native to Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire crayfish suffers from two parasites: plague, which is carried by the American invader, and porcelain disease that makes... Read More

How hosts recognize bacteria

We are surrounded by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. The fact that we nevertheless do not fall prey to infections is thanks to certain cellular sensor molecules such as toll-like receptors (TLR), which recognize the molecular structure of pathogens and intercede by ensuring an often comp... Read More

Bacterial Vaginosis Is Associated with Higher Risk of Female-to-Male Transmission of HIV

An investigation led by UCSF has found that the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission is increased three fold for women with bacterial vaginosis, a common disorder in which the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted.

The new research assessed the association between bacterial... Read More

Influenza H5N1 virus versus ferrets, round two

The second of two papers on avian influenza H5N1 virus that caused such a furor in the past year was published today in the journal Science. I have carefully read the paper by Fouchier and colleagues, and I assure you that it does not enable the production of a deadly biological weapon. The resu... Read More

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