Steve writes:

Hi TWiMpeeps,

We really can’t win, where microbes are concerned: People are now dying from microbes splashed up from sinks due to increased attention to hand washing!

I wonder if this also ties in with the change from copper pipes to plastic?  I bet it does.


“Drains of sinks, which can be potential reservoirs for nosocomial pathogens, have been implicated in an increasing number of outbreaks in the past decade. It has been speculated that these outbreaks might be an unexpected consequence of efforts to improve hand sanitation in hospitals. Backsplash with contaminated droplets onto nearby surfaces where medical staff prepared tubing and other equipment used in patient care is thought to be a mode of dissemination (

Biofilms containing colonies of these bacteria form in the sink drain and in pipes that drain the sinks

( Replacing contaminated sinks and their nearby plumbing may not be sufficient, as the biofilm may regrow from plumbing that remains in the wall.” ‎

Time to put the traditional copper plumbing back, I think.





Where the weather has been unusually sunny for almost a whole week: In the Summer too!    😉

Jonathan writes:

In drinking water and wastewater treatment, we routinely use Colilert by IDEXX for identification and quantification of fecal coliforms and specifically E. coli.

At my wastewater treatment plant, we sanitize the effluent water using chlorine gas dissolved in water to produce at least 1 ppm after 20 minutes. Drinking water standards are, of course, different. Would this treatment produce VBNC bacteria, and would our EPA approved detection method fail to detect them?

I have been listening to TWIM for about a year, and I really enjoy you all, and the enlightenment your podcast provides. I did two years of undergraduate work, one in physics, and one in biochemistry, before I left school to raise children and incur consumer debt. I have been a wastewater treatment operator for seven years.

Appreciate your time and your efforts in education.

Jonathan in Waco, TX

Currently sunny and 89, forecasted high of 102.

Kieron writes:

I graduated in engineering, but I enjoy your lucid reviews of papers in the biological sciences, of which I know little. You people know your subject (at least I’m convinced), bring out real passion, and appreciation for the science involved in getting to the results.

I catch you on Science 360.

Great stuff!


Wellington, New Zealand

Triet writes:

Dear TWIM hosts and TWIMers,

My name is Triet (or Treat as in Halloween trick or treat), I am currently an upcoming-to-fourth-year undergrad biology student at University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Thank you for the wonderful podcasts that had left me in awe at the end of each and every of them. I have a question for you guys. We heard a lot about mutualistic relationship between bacteria and it’s host (like in the bobtail squid and human gut). However, in most of the scenario, the hosts are the ones that dictate the concentration of the microbes (purging of human microbes as fecal matter, bobtail squid getting rid of the vibrio when we knock out the lux or luminescent genes). I am just wondering if there is any example where the bacteria dictate the relationship? (Like turning on pathogenic factor to kill it’s host if the host stop providing benefits to the bacterial community).

Thank you very much for the amazing podcasts, I wish you guys successful episodes to come.

Cheers from Canada,