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Letters

TWiM 5 Letters

Stephen writes:

Vincent, TWIV, TWIP amd TWIM are wonderful for a retired person like myself.  I worked in IT, but started out with a biology undergrad that instilled my interest in biology many years ago. I always look forward to the next podcast. I have discovered that dinner conversation about TWIP is not as well received as a discussion about my latest project from the course I am taking at the College of Craft and Design. You will enjoy this

http://xkcd.com/877/

Take care

Stephen

Gisele writes:

Hello, I am a big fan of all your podcasts. Copper is used as an anti- parasite agent in marine aquariums. It is toxic to all invertebrates and is deadly to them so it is used in fish only quarantines. This is perhaps why there is a concern about copper in the marine environments as it will not only kill microbes but snails, crabs, squid ect.

Thanks,

Gisele

Aric writes:

Hey guys, love your show so far. I have a few thoughts on the last episode concerning B. anthracis, particularly the lack of variance in anthracis. I found it very interesting to learn that spore-forming species have characteristically more genetic variance than non-spore formers. Does the lack of genetic variance have something to do with the fact that anthracis forms endospores, and not spores in a fungal sense? Fungal spores are easily released into the air for dissemination, while anthracis endospores seem fit to persist in the soil and dead bodies of infected animals. Do fungal spores show more genetic variation in a strategy to survive in a more diverse environment? Maybe Bacillus anthracis spores are less inclined to disseminate throughout the environment because the cattle and sheep they typically infect die within a few days and are generally confined to the field of the farmer who owns them.

Thanks, keep up the great work!

James writes:

Hello Professors and Expert,

I am hoping for an upcoming episode on resistant bacteria or upcoming antibiotic drugs in the pipeline?

Your fellow cytogenetics friend,

James

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

John writes:

Dear TWIMmers,

I love this new podcast, and I especially enjoyed this episode.  This is a nice example of both the strength and weaknesses of scientific forensic evidence, I think--you can get useful information out of it (the anthrax strains in Ivins' lab are very likely the source of the anthrax used in the attacks), but not the critical questions you care about (was it Ivins who made the spores and mailed them, or was it someone else; if it was Ivins, did he have any help?)  I suppose we will never really know for sure, since Ivins is dead and the FBI's investigation is over.

Assuming Ivins was the attacker, this raises an interesting point with respect to the threat of bioterrorism:  Ivins was a US government biological weapons researcher, working on defending against a potential attack.  He had expertise, equipment, training, supplies, and access to information at a level that it's hard to imagine any other terrorist having.  And yet, his total body count Online Pokies was quite small, as these things go.  Some nut with a gun in a crowded mall might manage to kill about that many people!  The attacks were quite effective at spreading terror, especially among people at the top of government and media, but they weren't actually all that deadly.

My question is, does this suggest that bioterrorism is overblown as a threat?  Or is it just that this attack wasn't targeted at killing large numbers of people, or that we got lucky and things might have ended up far worse?  My understanding is that anthrax isn't really much of a risk to spread after it has been used, and once you know people have been exposed you can give them antibiotics that will save them, so the attacks were probably self-limiting.  Maybe the situation would have been different, had the attacker had access to a different agent?

Jim writes:

This link, http://www.thermus.org/e_index.htm , is a good source of information about Japanese activities, has links to seminars, abstracts, software information that's being used, project background, 3D visualizations and progress reports, all in English.  Might be of interest to listeners who wish to see what is going on in East.

Jim

Smithfield, VA

Kerry writes:

There is an effort underway to ban Triclosan and I would like to hear TWIM discuss the risk / benefit to using anti-bacterial agents, particularly their widespread use in consumer products. Any info on how useful Triclosan is whether we'd miss it if was banned would be appreciated.

Kerry (Loyal laymen listener toTWIV, TWIP and now TWIM)

Clyde writes:

I just wanted to comment on your short discussion of nomenclature for Salmonella. Panama is not a serovar of enteriditis.  Salmonella is currently recognized as having two distinct species, Salmonella enterica and Salmonella bongori. Salmonella enterica has 6 subspecies, of which subspecies enterica is the most clinically relevant. Within Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica, there are many serovars, of which Panama is a representative. Enteriditis is also a serovar of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica. Therefore the proper name for this outbreak strain would be Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Panama. Whenever Salmonella Panama is used, or Salmonella Enteriditis, it implies that the serovar is a member of the enterica subspecies enterica family.

Nathan writes:

Vincent and everyone else on TWiM, I have throughly enjoyed these podcasts, they are perfect entertainment while I am stuck spinning down large culture volumes. I especially enjoy the format, focusing on just a few papers/topics really allows for in depth discussion.

Please continue your coverage on all the human microbiome work, it is a fascinating topic. As a undergrad at Cornell I was lucky enough to take the first offering of a course devoted solely to our microbiota, especially its positive impact. The course sold me on the importance of this field and its potential to change the way we look at some of the most important diseases that afflict us today.

Also, I am looking forward to your coverage of bacteriophages and phage related therapy, especially the future of its use in medicine.

Nathan

 

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