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MERS-CoV genome found in dromedary camels

Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), first identified in the fall of 2012 in a Saudi Arabian patient, has since infected over 160 individuals, causing 71 deaths. Identifying the source of infection is important for efforts to prevent further infections. Recently two studie... Read More

Study reveals intestinal bacteria succession during recovery from cholera in Bangladesh

A new study delineates a sequential pattern of changes in the intestinal microbial population of patients recovering from cholera in Bangladesh, findings that may point to ways of speeding recovery from the dangerous diarrheal disease. The report also finds what appear to be consistent differenc... 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

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

Teaching Freshmen about Transformation, Drug Resistance, and Gene Regulation!

In this blog post, I describe how I use the commonly available pGLO plasmid to teach freshman students basic concepts about transformation, receptor recognition, drug resistance mechanisms, and gene regulation. Oh, and fluorescence via GFP! 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

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

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

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

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

Graduation, Richard Feynman, and Career Choices...

In this blog post, I discuss how students begin to find their "path" to a career that they will love in science. I aIso write about the late, great Richard Feynman. 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

Stop Action Videos, Animation, and Bdellovibrio

My wife, who is a mathematician and artist, made a stop motion video using Play-Doh that represents the life cycle of the bacterial predator, Bdellovibrio. This brings together interesting microbes, animation, and thoughts about what students might do to understand processes in microbiology! 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

Click-Chemistry Labeling of Oligonucleotides and DNA - Lumiprobe - Protocol

Click chemistry is a versatile reaction that can be used for the synthesis of a variety of conjugates. Virtually any biomolecules can be involved, and labeling with small molecules, such as fluorescent dyes, biotin, and other groups can be readily achieved.

Click chemistry reaction takes pl... Read More

Dispatches from the Teaching Front, Part 1: Student Self-Evaluation

Based on a Twitter conversation with two microbiology educators, I share a story of how (through a survey) I encourage students to look deeply at their study strategies and promote "ownership" in their classroom experience. Read More

ASM GM 2014 - The Effect of Pancreatic Cancer on the Oral Microbiome

In the United States, approximately 40,000 people die every year due to pancreatic adenocarcinoma, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer related death. Patients diagno... 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

Inadvertent transfer of a mammalian retrovirus into birds

Reticuloendotheliosis viruses (REVs) are retroviruses that cause a rare disease of gamebirds and waterfowl that includes anemia, immunosuppression, neoplasia, runting, and abnormal feathering. Since the first isolation of REV from a turkey in 1957, REVs were believed to be strictly avian viruses... 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
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