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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

Foldscope: Origami-Based Paper Microscope

PLOS ONE authors Cybulski, Clements and Prakash describe an ultra-low-cost origami-based approach for large-scale manufacturing of microscopes, specifically demonstrating brightfield, darkfield, and fluorescence microscopes. Merging principles of optical design with origami enables high-volume f... Read More

ASM GM 2014 - Fossilized Feces Help Anthropologists Understand Pre-Columbian Cultures

By evaluating the bacteria and fungi found in fossilized feces, microbiologists are providing evidence to help support archeologists' hypotheses regarding cultures living in the Caribbean over 1,500 years ago. Researchers discuss how the analysis of 1,500-year-old coprolites from archeologica... Read More

asm2014: Five Things Not to Miss at ASM’s 114th General Session

You don’t want to miss asm2014. We’ve compiled a list of five things not to miss at the 114th American Society for Microbiology General Session.

Click the "source" link or copy/paste this URL into your browser: http://blog.puritanmedproducts.com/bid/383376/asm2014-Five-Things-Not-to-Miss-at-... 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

Remembering Carl Woese: A Memorial Issue of RNA Biology

The journal "RNA Biology" just published a memorial issue dedicated to the late, great Carl Woese. The entire issue is open access. I have a small contribution, but the entire issue is filled with great science, wonderful memories, and a fine celebration of a scientist who changed the way we l... Read More

TWiV 330: A swinging gate

Hosts: Vincent RacanielloDickson DespommierAlan Dove Read More

ASM GM 2014 - The Potential Role of Gut Microbes in Autism

Most gut bacteria are beneficial, aiding food digestion, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful bacteria. If left unchecked, however, harmful bacteria can excrete... 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

Report on Viruses Looks Beyond Disease

Recently, the American Academy of Microbiology released a new report, Viruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change Agents that delves into the origin of viruses, the overlooked biological and microbial ecological role of viruses, and how these live forms have contributed to evolution. T... Read More

Covering up a naked virus

Viruses can be broadly classified according to whether or not the particle is enveloped – surrounded by a membrane taken from the host cell – or naked. Some naked viruses apparently are more modest than we believed. Read More

Magical Monsoon:rAiNs and Geosmin

A Geosmin Story:
A Musty / Muddy smell - the earthy odour after a heavy spatter of rain is aesthetic to senses.
A poet sitting in such ambiance lets his thoughts to wander randomly and comes out with a sweet piece of write up.
An Artist can do wonders on his canvas flowing with the mood.
Man... Read More

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

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

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

TWiV 332: Vanderbilt virology

Host: Vincent Racaniello


Guests: Seth BordensteinJames Crowe... Read More

ASM GM 2014 - Bacteria in Urine Could Cause Overactive Bladder

Contrary to popular belief, urine is not sterile and the bacteria in it may be associated with overactive bladder (OAB) in some women. Presenters will discuss their research ... Read More

Where Biology and Art Work Together in the Classroom

In this blog entry, I describe how working with the artist Katie McKissick ("Beatrice the Biologist") helped improve my freshman biology course. The intersection of biology and art benefits both! 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

My First Radio Interview About Teaching, Research, and Microbial Supremacy...

The great folks at "The People Behind the Science" interviewed me over Skype in late July, and the interview has just been released as a podcast. I discuss my path through science, my thoughts on teaching, research at undergraduate institution, and how to motivate and inspire students to strive... Read More
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