mailboxTWiM regularly receives listener email with corrections, comments, suggestions for show topics, requests for clarification, and additional information. A selection of these is archived on this page.

TWiM 43 Letters

Jake writes:

Hello Vincent,
I've been listening to your TWiM podcast now for a few weeks as I am a student at SDSU taking a microbial genetics class with stanley maloy.  It be be another few months until I've caught up to the current episodes.  I saw this recent article on phage use in cleaning up achne and thought you'd like to hear about it.


Franco writes:

The article by Frits R. Mooi et al. linked on the episode “The sound of whooping cough” is contradicted by a study published on the current issue of EID: Schmidtke AJ, Boney KO, Martin SW, Skoff TH, Tondella ML, Tatti KM. Population diversity among Bordetella pertussis isolates, United States, 1935–2009. Emerg Infect Dis  Volume 18, Number 8—August 2012

I would greatly appreciate a comment on this point.

Best regards
Dr. Franco Giovanetti

John writes:

Dear TWIMmers,

I just finished listening to TWIM #39 (yes, I'm behind) and I had a question about the paper Michael reviewed.  Let me spell out how I understood the discussion, and then maybe you can tell me if I've misunderstood something, or if my question even makes sense.

Michael was talking about the question of how mutations arise and are selected for in nature.  The idea supported by Darwin (though long before anyone knew about DNA) was that mutations were in some sense driven by stress, right?  And then, there was this famous experiment which showed that mutants were present in the population before selection pressure was applied--a bunch of microbes were put on a plate with some antibiotic, and a small fraction of them were mutants that had resistance genes.  In this case, there was no pressure on the microbes to adapt the the antibiotic until they were put in a situation where they died unless they had the resistance genes.  Is this right so far?

Then, there was a second experiment, which used less powerful selection--the microbes were put on a plate where the only source of carbon was lactose, which the normal population of these microbes couldn't use for carbon.  And at first, these didn't grow much, but over time, even in an environment where the normal microbes couldn't grow Buy Viagra at all and so selection shouldn't have been able to bring anything new about, some microbes arose that could grow under these conditions.  Again, have I understood the basic idea?

Now, this is where I got a little confused.  From Michael's explanation, what I got was the idea that a bacterial cell can mutate in place even when it's not dividing.  That is, even in these bacteria that were sitting there unable to divide because they couldn't get any carbon from their environment, mutations could arise over time, and this led to a population of microbes that started out without the ability to grow with no carbon sources other than lactose, and then a few mutations arose that allowed some growth.  Is this right?  Is this kind of mutation important in eukaryotic cells, say in cancer or cellular senescence?

An alternative seems to be that the bacteria started out with a huge diversity of mutations already present, many of which gave them some small ability to get carbon from the lactose.  Then, over time, it seems like those would do all the dividing, and you'd get something like classic selection, with the bacteria that could reproduce faster leaving more copies of themselves which themselves could mutate to get better at reproducing.  Was there something observable in the experiment that ruled this out?

Anyway, thanks for answering my amateur questions.  I'm a computer scientist with no biology background, so I apologize if I'm making some dumb mistakes somewhere.

I wanted to also point out a really fun quote I ran across awhile back.  It's in a very old book (_Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution_ by Petr Kropotkin)--I think it was published in 1902.  It was a kind of argument against social Darwinism from a Russian naturalist and anarchist, combining observations on history and nature both.

> Mutual aid is met with even amidst the lowest animals, and we must be prepared to learn some day, from the students of microscopical pond-life, facts of unconscious mutual support, even from the life of micro-organisms.

Reading this, the words "biofilms" and "quorum sensing" popped immediately into my head.  Along with all the other kinds of mutualism between microbes.

Thanks again for your wonderful podcasts,


TWiM 42 Letters

Sarah writes:

Hi Twimologists!

I just found this wonderfully instructive paper on concepts of bacterial ecology that are relevant to the antimicrobial resistance problem (doi: 10.1086/340245,link). The author mentioned the existence of genes conferring resistance to metallic ions like copper, which reminded me of the discussion about copper surfaces from TWiM episode 1. I hate to ask because it involves chemistry which we ALL took ages ago, but could you comment on this? (Dr. Maloy?)

A lot of papers about copper resistance in bacteria came out before Y2K, such as the above paper's reference # 47. But this paper just talks about metabolism of ionic copper, which is different than metallic or solid state copper (if I remember right). However, a 2004 paper (link) in BMC Microbiology suggests that metallic copper releases copper ions which are transferred into bacterial cells when a bacterial suspension is incubated in a copper vessel.

So, is it futile to celebrate the antimicrobial properties of copper surfaces, or is metallic copper reliably antibacterial by brute force, able to overcome any resistance gene that lets bacteria metabolize copper ions?

Sarah, BS, BSN, RN, Infection Preventionist

Peter writes:

I am not sure if the BBC programme Horizon is available in America but I found  the recent edition on combating antibiotic resistant bacteria was very interesting.
Of particular note were the interviews with Dr David Harper of AmpliPhi BioSciences in England on the development of bacteriophages to fight bacterial infections and Professor Viagra 100mg Bonnie  Bassler of Princeton University who is investigating  using antagonists to bacterial quorum sensing compounds to moderate their pathological effects.

I think that these scientists would make good guests for TWiM.

Behzad writes:

It is always a delight hear Vincent chairing these informal and incredibly informative podcast discussions of microbiology.  The world should be eternally grateful for what he is achieving and making so accessible both through smart phone streaming and on the web.  He engages his panelists enthusiastically as they discuss a wide range of topics important to understanding the diversity of microbes and their to understanding infection, ecology and even climate!

Hearing Elio is particularly rewarding as he is, dare I say, even more articulate than Vincent as he explains his topics clearly in terms that non-experts can understand and, importantly, puts these into historical context.

I do hope that this message is communicated to the shows sponsor, ASM.

Keep up the great work!

Steve writes:

Of course, I immensely enjoy the podcasts. Thanks for making front-line science so accessible and informative. This is something America, society needs -- a more intimate, clear-eyed look at science and scientists in action.

Are there transcripts available for the TWIM podcasts? If not, is this something planned or in process? If not, I would help transcribe and index the text to the audio/video files.



Abhinav writes:

Why do only a few bacteria out of billions act as endophytes by entering tissues of plants?

TWiM 4 Letters

Aric writes:

I just stumbled upon your podcasts last week and wanted to say that I enjoy them all (TWiV, TWiP, and TWiM). While listening to episode one of TWiM I began to think about the significance of finding human DNA in a bacterial genome. While this discovery is certainly very exciting I do have one question, doesn't the nature of LINEs make this discovery somewhat less remarkable? They are reverse transcriptases, which are built to copy and insert themselves into host DNA. I think this discovery may be due to the fact that LINE elements are very mobile sequences, and N. gonorrhoeae may be the 'victim' in this case. What are your thoughts on this? And would you feel different if the DNA found in the bacterial genome contained a gene for a membrane protein (or other random human gene) instead of a LINE?


Allie writes:

TWIV, TWIP, and now - of all things TWIM? it just doesn't get any better. As an adult 'back to schooler' and beginning-again science learner, I can't believe my luck at beginning my ed adventure into science and beyond, during the era of the "Axis of unsee-able"  - the TW's. Once I listen to a TW discussion, the book (especially those dratted ch's on microbe-human interactions and all the replication stuff - aarrggh) comes alive. Here I was last week wishing you TW guys had a microbiology podcast, and poof - my prayers are answered! I thought my ears would pop out of my head as I listened along to TWIM #1, and actually understood stuff! This makes learning fun! You guys have a somehow magical combination of hard-core geek-ism, humor, loopbacks to clarify things for the "LlL's" (less learned listeners), and way too cool: all the heavy hitters seem to be gettin' together to chit chat - thanks a 10(-)7th mol or something like that (clearly more to learn!) Let's vote you folks along with  Sal Khan as "egalitarian educators" of the year(s)..

(by the way the piece of human DNA stuck in there on Ng thing was really "eerie", as Sal Khan of Khan Academy would probably say. And, the copper thing - why can't microbes eventually get around that, like they get around everything else eventually  - temp, salinity, pH, penicillin? Years from now I'll realize this was a dumb question, but for now it has Viagra me wondering).



Kenneth writes:

Hi Vince, was just about to download TWiV when I saw that you have actually released the first episode to TWiM on the microbeworld website and I just can't stop jubilating. I strongly hope this podcast would be successful as TWiV and TWiP and I appreciate your help very much Vincent..You really helping some of us and I just cant thank you enough.

I pray for long life, happiness and good health for you, your family and all your friends helping you out to bring such an imparting tool in our lives and you all will be blessed anytime someone listens to any of your wonderful podcasts. This is just a thank you message and my questions will be following next.

All the best and goodluck.

Best Regards,

Ken (BioCrowd) in case you've forgotten me.

Stephen writes:

Here's a couple of ideas for signing off the show: "Another TWIM is added to the culture." "Another TWIM enters the culture." - Stephen

Atila writes:

Dear twimers,

First of all, congratulations to professor Racaniello and Racaniello Media Corporation for this new initiative. I am a regular TWiV and TWiP listener from Brazil, and just when I had listened to all episodes, you release this new podcast. Now I can only expect This Week in Vertebrates, or This Week in Plants. Until then, let me make my first TWiM question:

Many times I have heard the explanation that the smell that comes after the rain is caused by antibiotics produced by actinomycetes and other bacteria in a silent war for space. But I have never seen a decent reference to support this. People always say it but do not cite any source. Is it true, and do you have a good source for this?

Thank you all for making another fantastic podcast. I hope you inspire other researchers to do the same, or else Racaniello corp. will end up having 10 or more podcasts, and this is monopoly! Best, Atila Iamarino

p.s. thanks also for introducing Futures in Biotech, its a great podcast too and I am impressed. I'm listening to old episodes, from 2006 to 2008 and many of the discussions are about research that I have only heard last year. I'm anxious to get to the new episodes and know what will be published in 2015.

TWiM 39 Letters

Merry writes:

Writing the sprint event for the Microbial Olympics published recently by Nature Reviews Microbiology was surely my most fun writing assignment ever! The idea for this feature article originated with Dr. Andrew Jermy, Senior Editor at NRM in London back when the city was just starting to hum with preparations for the summer Olympics. He invited Forest Rohwer and myself to cover one of the events. Fortunately he offered us the sprint, which was a perfect opportunity for my favorite entrants, the phage, to win. He also enticed me by clearly stating his intent, that this was to be a fun piece for the reader (and the authors alike). Because my name happens to be first on the article, rumors have been going around that this was my idea. Actually, this was but the latest of a series of innovative features he has put together. I look forward to the next one.

Merry Youle

James writes:

Hello twim,

I just wanted to write to you guys and say thanks for highlighting our nature reviews article (Microbial Olympics). I'm glad our approach of writing a pieces that could be appreciated by experts and laypersons alike was successful and as its my first outing into the publication world I'm thrilled it has received such positive feedback! Thanks again!


James Gurney

Jim writes:

Another wonderful TWIM.  
Jo Handlesman's credentials are more impressive by the week.  

Will apologize for my low brow humor in the letter you read.

Taking a dump is used to say having a bowel movement. Hence "dump data" would be data derived from the study of bowel movements.

Stanley writes:

So, maybe it was because I was irritated from sitting in a traffic jam in LA, or maybe (like Elio) I was just being an old curmudgeon. As I was parked on the freeway listening to TWiM and looking forward to accelerating through Elio and Michaels autobahn through the recent General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology, their comments made me feel stuck in an intellectual roadblock.

Elio made a good point that when a field gets started it begins with a lot of ideas, then goes through a period of accumulating a lot of data, before finally maturing into a robust blend of ideas, data, and broad insights that lead to interesting, testable predictions. But research on the microbiome is not just stuck in the boring burial in data phase. The field began with learning about a small number of cases to learn "who is there" and trying to guess from the sequences "what are they doing", work that was important to build the foundation of microbiome studies. And, it is true that there is a lot of that still going on in labs around the world. But the research has also progressed to other broader questions like how does the microbiome change after treatment with antibiotics and how long does it take to recover, how does diet influence the microbiome, is a person's microbiome stable or does it change over time, do certain microbes in the microbiome seem to protect against particular diseases -- questions that both make us think about the role of microbes in our health and illness, and data that leads to testable predictions that can lead to new therapeutics and treatments. For example, probiotics have been around for a long time, but we didn't understand how they work (and in some cases didn't even have good evidence that the really do work). Likewise for age old treatments like fecal transplants.

In short, this is a very exciting time for the microbiome and, if you're willing to listen and think, a fun time to be in the audience learning about the new Generic Viagra discoveries. If you'd like to hear from some of the people who spoke at the ASM as well as some perspectives on the future of this work, check out the ASM Life interviews from the General Meeting (

Thanks for the cerebral distraction from the bumper in front of me. --> Stanley

Joe writes:
I wanted to follow up to an email the I sent to you all a while ago about evolution and entropy and my sense of paradox  regarding the ever increasing complexity of biologic systems and their concentration of energy in spite of the overriding  natural continual dispersal of energy captured in the idea of Entropy.

Let me first say that one of my gifts as  a scientist and engineer is an ability (and willingness) to ask fuzzy questions about bigger concepts at the boundaries of my knowledge looking for unexpected insights. Usually these questions are not quite so fuzzy that I mistake 2 for 3 as in the laws of thermodynamics, I guess I just like Gibbs Free Energy more than Entropy! That effort to identify what we don't know that we don't know is what has always excited me about science, the chance to think an entirely new thought that reveals something new about nature. How cool is that!

I appreciated that Michael and the rest of the crew tried to tackle the question in the spirit that it was offered and his answer essentially pointing out that nature arrives at complexity through massively large numbers of trial was useful after I thought about if for a while. Yet I must say that it still did not quite get at the core of my question. I was surprised by the email responses to my question that you later read. Particularly by the person who all but accused me of being an evil Creationist! I will just say that since it is not an issue that I care about I suspect the assertion says more about his world view than my own. The phrase "evolution driven by random chance" has never seemed to capture the awesome  sense of inevitability and thoroughness that I see in evolution. To me that phrase seems equivalent to calling it "magic".

Since then, I have come across a much more complete answer to what underlies this drive to complexity in Ray Kurzweil's book The Singularity Is Near, which I recommend as an interesting read whether you agree with his thesis or not. On page 85, he references research done by Stephen Wolfram on Cellular Automatons. This is a mathematical study that describes how complex non repetitive patterns can be generated from digital systems with a few very simple rules. In particular there is a category called class 4 automata that appear to characterize the evolution of biological systems. I have picked up  Wolfram's book A New Kind of Science and even though I am but a few pages in, it appears to be a very promising brain stretcher. Assuming I don't injure my back lifting it, I will let you know if it addresses my questions about the underlying drivers in evolution.

In closing let me say that I appreciate all the great work you all are doing in all 3 podcasts. I value the dialog, spontaneity  and asides and believe that you all capture the emotional enthusiasm that make science such a great life's work.

EH&S Manager

Peter writes:

Greetings TWiM team

I saw these instructions on for culturing bioluminescent bacteria from fresh sea fish and thought they may be of interest.

For those not familiar with it Instructables is a very eclectic DIY site where people can publish instructions for various projects they have done.

TWiM 38 Letters

Jim writes:

As usual I loved TWiM #37. Jo Handlesman adds a lot imho.

I think Michael Schmidt meant "dump data" instead "data dump."  Apologizes to Alan Dove.

Look forward to the up coming bioinformatics guest.

Thanks a million

Tim writes:

Dear TWiMeisters,

I'm quite behind in TWiM, TWiP and TWiV, because of my exams, which is a poor excuse, I know! Anyway I just listened to TWiM #22 with Dr. Sacchetti, and thought I'd write in with my appreciation. As an RN student, I love it when your podcasts are specifically pertinent to my area of interest. In this case, hospital-acquired infections and the most common infections in emergency departments.

This was one of the most fascinating episodes yet. I was wondering though if you'd consider doing something on infection-control in a surgical setting? That is, if you had any papers on the effectiveness of surgical attire in preventing spread of infection to the patient, and/or protecting the surgical staff from the patient. Particularly, I'd be interested in hearing which microbes are most commonly found on the Online Blackjack skin or in the hair of surgical staff. I wonder if surgical infections would be similar to those in emergency departments, or if the percentages would be slightly different.

Admittedly, such an episode would probably not be of interest to many, and the literature may not even be out there. My main purpose for this email was simply to express my appreciation for everything that you do. Keep it up! Much respect to every one of you.

Tim (Melbourne, Australia)

Alicia writes:


I was listening to TWiM a few weeks back and, if I remember correctly, it was mentioned that it would be interesting to find someone that could discuss spirochetes with you.

I would like to recommend one of my professors, Dr. Caroline Cameron. She is Canada's Research Chair in Molecular Pathogenesis and teaches at the University of Victoria. I have spoken with her and if you have any future papers concerning spirochetes (especially Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum or Leptospira) she would be interested in participating.

I hope you will do an episode!



TWiM 37 Letters

Pat writes:

Hi Vincent,

I'm a regular TWIM listener and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology (I enjoyed your visit last semester).  I was also heavily involved in much of the data analysis for the Human Microbiome Project.  As I was unable to attend the ASM General Meeting, I cringed when you and your co-hosts described the human microbiome talks at ASM as being glorified data dumps (TWIM #36).  This is most unfortunate!  I was wondering whether you might be willing to have a guest, say…  me to help get the general microbiologists through the weeds.  As a former postdoc in Jo Handelsman's lab, I can tell you that I am very interested in making computational concepts more engaging and feel that we have an important job as scientists to view our research mission as part of our teaching mission.  Anyway, if you're ever interested, please know that you have a standing offer from a  microbial ecologist / bioinformaticist to help your listeners get excited about this amazing topic.

Pat Schloss
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
University of Michigan

Mark writes:

Hello, Vincent, Michael, and Elio (and the other contributors!):  I want to thank you so much for these podcasts.  I have been having to sit around in traction for a pinched nerve a couple of times a week, and listening to TWiM enriches my mind while I feel like a science fiction character!  Better than watching television, in any case.

I really appreciate the interactions and information that are presented in all of your podcasts, but the comments on the ASM General Meeting (which I had attended, too),in TWiM 36 resonated.  The new "card" format for the posters was indeed wonderful for forgetful people like myself, and I have to agree strongly with Vincent's comment (and Elio's quite gentle criticism) of systems biology:  things are getting so complicated that few people can be generalists. I used to worry about "eukaryocentricity" in biology, but clearly I need to start worrying about "colicentricy."  I too thought that third slide at the opening session was a backgrounder for Salmonella phase variation---but decided I must not be "getting it," since the speaker was so clearly brilliant and engaged.  So a solid background becomes vital, even for MacArthur Genius Grant Online Casino winners, as our field sprints (it no longer marches!) forward!

One final thing.  I will be trying to introduce my undergraduates to TWiM in my Fall microbiology course.  The podcasts give an engaging and current "feel" for microbiology (I was going to say the "ferment" of microbiology, but I restrained myself).  While my students might not want to listen for an hour, we do discuss journal articles...and I intend to assign some of the ones you have been covering, with the relevant TWiM assigned as "background listening."  Extra credit points often focus attention like a laser, I find.

Best wishes to all, and thanks for what you do.  Hope to see some discussion of microbial endocrinology at some point?

-Mark Martin

P.S.  The human microbiome descriptions are indeed hard to follow!  I half-expect to see advertisements for entero-Harmony, the dating service that matches people based on their enterotypes.  Hmm.  What about antibiotics then?  Best wishes, MM

Spyros writes:


I heard you read my email on the last TWIM and I was super excited. Really excited.  And it looks like from the comments on the panel it's something you guys would like to pursue.  Please let me know when or if you guys get the time.

I am up to the ICAAC podcast, but i have listened ahead to the most recent ones obviously.  The podcast keeps talking about probiotics and the benefits, and I'm truly interested in them.

however I'd like to point out a recent MedWatch release and here is the link

this isn't the kind of pharmaceutical I manufacture but it's interesting nonetheless to me, and this is an example of what happens when things go very wrong in my industry, a lot of folks can get hurt, each unit is going into a person and I treat each one like a person.

Also I hope you guys mention what's going on in Cambodia, I saw 65 illnesses on CNN and no cause for it right now.  Of course that may have changed, I have had a horrendous day of travel and have been out of touch with the news, but the new can't do as good a job as you guys can discussing this latest issue.

Again thanks, look forward to hearing future podcasts and hearing from you guys.

TWiM 36 Letters

Todd writes:

Just a quick note to say how much I enjoy TWiM, and in particular, how much I enjoyed episode 32 featuring Rosie Redfield. I don't know how you find time to do this, but I'm glad you do. Keep up the great work.

BTW, I was also fortunate enough to attend the SGM meeting in Dublin in March. I enjoyed hearing you talk about the use of new media, as well as the rest of the meeting. I was also impressed at the weather they arranged for us! I entered Dublin into my phone's weather app several weeks before the meeting, and haven't yet removed it. I haven't seen a single week with weather as nice as ours before the meeting or since.

Spyros writes:


My name is Spyros and I'm a manager of a Biological Quality lab in a pharmaceutical plant.  I'm in the process of listening to all your podcasts and I really like it.  I have a Microbiology degree (Bachelors) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, so I don't have the education of a lot of your friends / guests, but what I may be able to bring to the show a different perspective. I remember in one of the first ones, a lab tech from industry called in and asked some general questions.

I don't know if this has been brought up or were looking from someone from industry to speak on topics of pharmaceutical manufacturing and controlling flora in the environment,  monitoring we do, what we monitor, what we monitor for and general career advice.

I probably will have to work with my company's public affairs division and probably legal around what I can / can't say but I will only do that if you would be interested in having me on the show.  I don't know the exact time commitment but I will arrange to meet it if possible.  I live in free online casino bounuses North Carolina, and I know one of you regular contributors is in South Carolina, so, you would have the Carolina's covered!

I'm only on episode 6 so if you have this covered I understand.  Keep on going really enjoy the topics.


Sarah writes:

Hi Vincent and guests,

I have been an avid listener of the TWIM/V/P podcasts for just over a year now; they help pass the time during long animal surgery hours, even longer stereology sessions, as well as during my rollerblade home from work in Los Angeles... yes I know it's dangerous to wear headphones and rollerblade in a city where people care more about the scratches on their car than a pedestrian's broken bones if a collision occurs, but hey we all have to take risks for science right?

My question is a little delayed in terms of timing; it was sparked from the January 26th podcast looking at a possible role for microbes in the onset of autism. It was mentioned in the beginning anatomy lesson that the appendix may have a role in priming the gut microbiome. I know there has been at least one study that has shown a correlation between appendectomy and an increase in heart disease in humans, and I also found a paper linking germ-free mice with an increase in atherosclerotic plaque formation. I'm curious if you or your colleagues have any postulates regarding which particular group/groups of bacteria in the appendix may be the "keystone genus" within the community- knocking them out will potentiate the results found in the germ-free mice in terms of plaque formation or other early markers of heart disease. I guess if you were going to look more closely into causal links between appendix, gut microbiota and heart disease, where would you start and why?

I hope that question made sense and thanks again for the hours of entertainment...enjoy the Spring weather!


TWiM 34 Letters

Peter writes:

Dear TWiM Team

I see that some action is now being taken in America against the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics as livestock growth promoters:

Having read the FDA Press Announcement I think that that the N.Y. Times article may be misleadingly optimistic, I feel that this is probably too little and too late.

The practise of using antibiotics as growth promoters was stopped in Sweden in 1986 the UK in 1988 and in Europe by 2005, without significant adverse effects on the meat industry.
As I see it the only reason this practise persists in America is the lobbying by the livestock industry against the scientific consensus.

Your views please doctors.


Article about how use of AGP's was phased out in the Danish pork industry:

Antibiotic Growth Promoters in Agriculture: History and Mode of Action:

History of the Use of Antibiotic as Growth Promoters in European Poultry Feeds:

Sergio writes:

I have a question for Michael Schmidt. While doing my research on R. solanacearum, I read an old paper where they mentioned that Pseudomonads were able to internalize copper and therefore detoxify a copper rich liquid medium, I have observed this myself with the R. solanacearum strain I was working with, but since Michael is the copper expert in TWIM, I would like to know if there is some more new information about this phenomenon. It is of my interest beyond my doctoral thesis because copper is one of the few fungicides allowed to be used in organic farming. Therefore, this phenomenon deserves more attention from organic farmers, I think.


Ph.D. in Biocontrol Science Electronic Cigarette
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
United Graduate School of Agricultural Science
Biocontrol Science Department

Instituto de Investigaciones Fármaco-Bioquímicas
La Paz, Bolivia

Sarah writes:

Dear TWiM-ologists,

You know how sometimes you run across a word or phrase which sounds like it's got a specific meaning that's really important to the context of whatever you're reading or hearing?

Well, I've been catching up with episodes 27-29 lately, and true to TWi form, the phrase "type III secretion" got the gears crankin'. The phrase sounded significant but I didn't remember learning about secretion mechanisms under this framework in undergrad 10 years ago. I did a little reading and wanted to share how fascinating these mechanisms are and how relevant they seem to be for many common human pathogens. Depending on the bug, the product, and the environment, these guys can deliver a variety of toxins into the extracellular environment, spit out antibiotics and other compounds, or deliver proteins or nucleic acid directly into target cells via injection or vesicles. What a spectacular array of intricate and elegant mechanisms - as Dr. Schmidt would say, "Remarkable!"

It's fitting that these podcasts are award-winning. They always nurture curiosity and prompt trains of thought into unexplored territory.

The discussion about TUNEL and apoptosis in episode 29 reminded me of a suggestion for pick of the week - A couple of music videos that Roche released in 2009 to promote some new lab tools to measure viability and cytotoxicity. They're more for tissue culture than microbiology, but hilarious nonetheless.
(in case the above links don't work:

Stephen writes:


Horizontal transfer between blogs.

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