TWiM 25 Letters

Peter writes:

Dear TWiM team I saw this fascinating paper on how the variety of bacteria populating human skin can influence who mosquitoes chose for their blood meal.
Not really sure if it would be best covered in  TWiM or TWiP as falls within the remit for both podcasts.

Composition of Human Skin Microbiota Affects Attractiveness to Malaria Mosquitoes

It appears that mosquitoes tend to avoid people with more diverse microbial communities on their skin as they contain bacteria that produce volatiles that repel mosquitoes.

Presumably once these particular bacteria have been identified then it may be possible to culture them to produce a mosquito repellent, presumably actually growing the culture on your skin would also work as a biological control, though I think it would be rather harder to market given most peoples fear of bacteria.


Jim writes:


I just saw this engrossing documentary about lyme disease with a controversy about the existence of a chronic form of lyme disease. The movie might be worth a mention as a listener pick. It's 1 hr 44 mins long and can be seen online at  A web site with resources and trailer also exists as  The movie is several years old.  Do TWIM panel members have any current information about the controversy and is progress towards resolution of what is affecting folks with chronic conditions they attribute to lyme being made?  Unfortunately, as noted at the end of the movie, several key researchers have died, including one who had detected Lyme borreliosis in brain tissue samples from deceased Alzheimer patients. I would have liked to have them join the TWIM panel and discuss current activities.

Smithfield, VA

Varun writes:

Hello everyone,

First of all, let me congratulate the microbiology crew for bringing up such a fantastic podcast that makes microbiology so much fun. Since Dr. Moselio is very interested in mitochondrion i thought he probably would know the answer for my question. Its known that only mom's DNA is being passed to their progeny what is the best hgh on the market. Its also known that as you age there is continuous accumulating damage to mitochondrion thanks to the oxygen species. Now my point is why doesn't the mitochondrion which is from mom derived after a few rounds of replication accumulate damage and pass to the child. That doesn't happen (else we already would have high damage in mitochondrion). I hope my question isn't absurd.

I also would really love to hear an episode or 2 entirely dedicated to what we know of HIV on TWiV (Just like the malaria sequence episodes in TWiP). IF you do please focus on HIV genome controls by TAT.

On episode TWiM#22 there was a great snapshot of microbiology in clinic. I just am interested to know if Dr. Alfred have experiences regarding Burkholderia cases in infants. We just happened to see some in premature infants. If yes please light the area.

Am sorry for too many questions and comments. Once again thank you for the great great educast.

Al Sachetti answers:

To be honest I never heard of Burkholderia so if I've seen a case of it I never made the diagnosis.

I looked it up and it is more an infection of the immune compromised, especially those with cystic fibrosis.  A case in an infant would be particularly unusual from what I can tell.  Seems more of a plant pathogen that also infects livestock and is more of an opportunistic human pathogen.  Just more proof, it's the microbes that rule the planet.

On another note, I ran into a pediatric ER doc from Chicago last week who told me they are seeing one of the worst Respiratory Syncytial Virus seasons ever.  This has been our experience with more cases in the last few months than we have seen in the last 3 years combined. This is in the face of no Influenza infections at all this year.

Might be fun to do a Bench Top to Bedside show with an RSV Virologist and a physician on this one.

Have a great New Year.




Comments (1)

  1. Jim things have moved on considerably since the documentary was made. The science is still evolving to support the views of ILADS and contradict the narrow views of the IDSA which currently dictates treatment World wide. Last year the institute of Medicine held a Workshop still available on their website, about Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses- they found significant gaps remain in the science, so far too soon to be dictating restricted guidelines as per iDSA. Possibly the most significant research was that by Embers, Barthold et al Persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in Rhesus Macaques following Antibiotic Treatment of Disseminated Infection Don't remember seeing this much on the internet yet although it was published 11th January 2012

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