by Merry Youle | What do stunted coconut palms, misshapen potato tubers, and peach trees with necrotic branches have in common? They are three of the numerous crops stricken with diseases caused by viroids, an astonishing group of minimalist plant pathogens. There isn't much to a viroid, just... Read more →
by Elio | We sometimes make a sally into the high jinks of metazoans, perhaps to persuade you that we are not prokaryotic chauvinists (not that you thought so, surely). This foray concerns a novel strategy that sheds light on an apparent paradox: many prey, instead of making themselves hard to see, seem to use tactics that... Read more →
by Alan Derman | Imagine trying to acquaint yourself with your favorite bacterium by learning the intracellular address of each and every one of its proteins. You can't see them in a light microscope, and you can't realistically do immunofluorescence; for that you'd need to purify each one and raise antibodies. So you have to modify them so that they can be seen. You have to tag them with... Read more →
by Elio | Towards the end of the 16th century, the ruler of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, began a movement that led to the banning of firearms in that country. Not that these weapons hadn’t worked; on the contrary, at that time the Japanese made some of the best guns in the world. Many reasons have been put forward for this unique and drastic action, the most romantic being that the... Read more →
by Elio | Did you ever need to look up the volume of a cell or the cellular concentration of ATP, only to find yourself spending much more time than you wanted on the Internet or flipping through textbooks — all without much success? Read more →
by Merry Youle | We have come to expect the unexpected of ciliates, and Oxytricha trifallax, with its genomic capers, does not disappoint. Like many of its more famous ciliate relatives (e.g., paramecium, tetrahymena, stentor), Oxytricha is a complex unicellular organism with many specialized cellular structures. Of course, they have the requisite cilia for... Read more →
by Elio | These terms from biogeography are becoming relevant to us because of the present-day rise of microbiogeography. More and more, we hear about the "geographic" distributions of microbial species and strains. Read more →
by Elio | Deep within the oceans, sea animals and bioluminescent bacteria play symbiotic games. Fish, squid, and other animals that bring light to the darkness use it in their quest for food, their search for mates, or the avoidance of predators. This is not merely a curiosity, as seen by the simple fact that... Read more →
The purpose of this blog is to share my appreciation for the width and depth of the microbial activities on this planet. I will emphasize the unusual and the unexpected phenomena for which I have a special fascination... (more)
For the memoirs of my first 21 years of life, click here.
This Week in Virology, the podcast about viruses, celebrates its 300th episode on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 with a live recording at the Washington, DC headquarters of the American Society for Microbiology.