Carl Zimmer joins Nels to talk about science writing, science communication, viruses, and his new book, On Life’s Edge.
Nels and Vincent explain a new method for calculating the most recent common ancestor of SARS-CoV-2, which concludes that the ancestral virus was circulating in October/November 2019, before its first detection in China.
Nels and Vincent review evidence for recombinant SARS-CoV-2 genomes arising in the B.1.1.7 lineage within the United Kingdom.
Nels and Vincent review a preprint demonstrating that changes in the genomes of the SARS-CoV-2 variants B1.351 and P.1 allow the viruses to reproduce in mouse cells in culture and in laboratory mice.
Nels and Vincent consider evolution of antibody immunity to SARS-CoV-2, and update the situation on novel virus variants of concern with potentially altered fitness and reactivity with antibodies.
Nels and Vincent wrap up 2020 with a discussion of novel variants of SARS-CoV-2 that have emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa, how to interpret the rapidly emerging genome sequence data and what to look for in the coming weeks as these variants spread across the globe.
Nels and Vincent answer listener questions and discuss a newly discovered virus of amoeba with a nearly complete ORFan genome: none of the proteins encoded in the viral genome look like any other proteins.