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Henrietta Lacks (HeLa) genome sequence published then withdrawn

Earlier this month the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) published the DNA sequence of the genome of HeLa cells, the cell line that is widely used for research in virology, cell biology, and many other areas. This cell line was produced from a tumor taken from Henrietta Lacks in 1951.... Read More

Antibiotics work against viruses

Got your attention, eh? This page discusses why so many people believe that antibiotics kill viruses, and what you can do about that myth. Actually, it's not even a myth ... antibiotics DO work against viruses. The problem is that the word "antibiotics" is redefined by some to be a synonym of... Read More

El podcast del microbio Nº 255: Hongos contra el picudo rojo (Fungi against the red palm weevil )



























El podcast del Microbio Nº255 explains the use of the fungus Beauveria bassiana as bioinsecticide for the control of the red pa... Read More

Deans write to Obama about CIA vaccine scheme in Pakistan

Deans of public health schools in the United States have sent a letter to President Obama, in which they criticize the use of a vaccination campaign by the Central Intelligence Agency in Pakistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden. I wonder if he will reply. Read More

TWiV 282: Tamiflu and tenure too

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El podcast del microbio Nº 258. Buscando a la Muerte Negra. (Searching for the Black Death)



























El podcast del Microbio Nº258 deals with the sequencing of the Yersinia pestis strain that causes the Black Death. El podcast de... Read More

WHO will switch to type 2 inactivated poliovirus vaccine

The World Health Organization’s campaign to eradicate poliomyelitis made impressive inroads in 2012: only 212 cases were reported, compared with 620 the previous year; moreover, India remained polio-free. The dark side of this story is that as wild polio is eliminated, vaccine-associated poliomy... Read More

El Podcast del Microbio" Nº 152 and 153. El experimento de Tuskegee (The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment)



























El Podcast del Microbio" Nº 152 and 153 deals with the history of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and its follow-... Read More

How to give a great lecture

There are many elements that go into making a great lecture, but the most important one is to lose the notes. If you are giving lectures in a course at any level, the worst practice you can engage in is to rely on notes. This behavior is problematic for several reasons. You will not properly kno... Read More

Drivers of bacterial à-diversity depend on spatial scale

PDF of recent "Open Access" PNAS paper on bacterial biogeography. The paper (of which I am an author) made use of rRNA PCR to survey bacteria in salt marshes. The bacteria were surveyed broadly (using broadly targeted PCR primers) and narrowly (using primers that focused on specific taxonomic... Read More

Biotech Revolution (BBC Four)

Theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku looks at the revolution in genetics and biotechnology, which promises unprecedented health and longevity but also raises fears of a future where we can genetically engineer people. The documwentary asks will we, as transhumanists expect, evolve into... Read More

Poliovirus on Time

Poliovirus has made the cover of Time magazine. The Time cover image for the 14 January 2013 issue is a model of poliovirus bound to a soluble form of its cellular receptor, CD155. I was part of the team that solved the structure of this complex in 2000, together with the laboratories of Jim Hog... Read More

El podcast del microbio Nº250. Cómo hacer un virus letal en cinco pasos (How to make a lethal virus in five steps)



























"El podcast del microbio" Nº 250 summarize the article published in November by New Scientist about the controversial work on mu... Read More

XMRV, Chronic Fatigue and prostate cancer

The XMRV retrovirus has been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer. A homology search comparing retroviral with human proteins revealed short contiguous amino acid strings (typically 5-8 aa) matching human proteins whose dysfunction might be expected to cause fatigue, includ... Read More

Viruses on Time

Poliovirus recently made the cover of Time magazine. Prompted by a reader question, I searched the Time archive to find out if there have been other virology-themed covers. I found fifteen in all, depicting poliovirus (3), herpesvirus (1), HIV/AIDS (4), influenza (5), and SARS coronavirus (2) (I... Read More

Creative "Extra Credit" Projects in Microbiology!

In this blog entry, I explore how students can use their creativity to learn microbiology in innovative and often artistic ways. It makes learning more personal! Read More

Southern California ASM Membership Drive and Social Event

When I was a graduate student at the Medical College of Virginia, many of the microbiologists in my department were very active in the local ASM. Our local ASM provided opportunities to graduate students and postdocs to present their work to an outside audience of scientists from the surroundin... Read More

Where They’re Found


Archaea comes from the Greek word meaning “ancient.” An appropriate name, because many archaea thrive in conditions mimicking those found more than 3.5 billion years ago. Back then, the earth was still covered by oceans that regularly reached the boiling point ... Read More

The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life

Modern archeologists, excavating ancient Egyptian tombs, have often found something unexpected amongst the tombs’ artifacts: pots of honey, thousands of years old, and yet still preserved. Through millennia, the archeologists discover, the food remains unspoiled, an unmistakable testament to the... Read More

Precious Metals

Moselio Schaechter of the Small Things Considered blog reviews the results of a recent paper "Microbial metalloproteomes are largely uncharacterized" from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia, Athens, and ponders its implications.

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"Now... Read More
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