Robin writes:

Chimney sweeps got scrotal cancer.

Testicular cancer is an entirely different animal.

Robin writes:

Here is a recent one about the molecular clock

Another quite general interest evolution paper

Another general interest evolution paper

Here is a new take on the pre-teleost two rounds of whole genome duplication in the vertebrate ancestor

Another general interest paper

Hetty writes:

Drs. R & E,

Please please please invite Dr. Josh Drew to be a guest on your new podcast. He is also at Columbia and I suspect he will say yes…oh and he’s awesome. I like the new podcast. I’m glad all of you have time to read papers in diverse disciplines because I don’t!

Hetty-Full time lab manager/part time grad student/ person who occasionally sends complaints and fish parasite stuff to TWiP.

Barbara writes:

Dear evolving TWiEVO hosts-

Greetings from San Francisco!  I am writing to not only thank you for adding another podcast to the TWIX family, but to suggest a future guest for TWiEVO.

I appreciated your introduction to the interesting history about the merging of molecular biology and evolutionary biology in episode #1. As Vincent mentioned in the first episode, I too for a number of years considered evolution relegated to dusty fossils and looking at phenotypic variation in nature.  My myopic view probably comes from the fact that my lab experience as a research assistant after graduating college in 1990 primarily had focused on using molecular methods to create DNA mutations in bacterial systems, and studying the effects of these mutations in well characterized bacterial lab strains. My eyes were opened in 2012 when I was introduced to modern molecular evolutionary biology at our natural history museum in San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

I’m sure people know that many natural history museums have vast collections of specimen such as fossils, insects and plants that are used by researchers to study topics of evolutionary interest.  What may not be known is that in the basement of the California Academy of Sciences is a microbiology lab focused on studying the evolutionary biology of microbes. The California Academy of Sciences mission statement is to Explore, Explain and Sustain life on Earth, and that mission includes microbes as they are so integral to life on Earth.

I came to the Academy in 2012 seeking a part-time volunteer position after being absent from a science job for a decade.  I was placed in the entomology department and joined a massive effort to help catalog and digitize their California terrestrial insect collection, a project affectionately called the CalBug project.

After working in entomology for a short time, I was surprised to find that there was a Department of Microbiology at the Academy.  After finding out more about how a microbiology lab came to the Academy, I started volunteering in the microbiology part-time in 2013.

Dr. Shannon Bennett, who was hired in 2011 as the Academy’s first Associate Curator of Microbiology, is an evolutionary microbiologist focused on mosquito-borne RNA viruses and viruses of zoonotic origin, including hantaviruses. The Bennett lab is interested in the forces that shape the diversity of fast-evolving RNA viruses and in particular, determining how these evolutionary changes impact human health and disease emergence. Dr. Bennett has been on numerous expeditions over the years, collecting specimen in areas where RNA viruses, such as mosquito-borne Dengue virus, are endemic.  These specimen provide a rich source of genetic material to study using molecular methods back at the laboratory in San Francisco.  In addition to the interesting research questions being asked, the lab members participate in numerous outreach events at the museum every year, educating the public about the microbes around us.

In addition to overseeing her own lab, Dr. Bennett has recently been promoted to the Chief of Science for the California Academy of Science’s research division, the Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability.  In an effort to keep this letter short, I am including a web link to the microbiology department at the Academy for more information about the Bennet Lab, and a list of Dr. Bennett’s recent research papers.

Volunteering in the Bennet lab at a natural history museum has been a rewarding experience and has created a new awareness about evolutionary biology for me.  TWiEVO is a nice complement to my volunteer work, and provides entertainment as well!

Best regards-


PS- I want to thank Vincent for his virology course on Coursera, which introduced me to the TWIX podcast family in 2013.  Coursera has been a great platform for me to catch up on the technology changes during the decade I was out of the lab and TWIX keeps me current on relevant microbial topics.  Thank you to all the TWIX hosts and guests for being generous with their time and sharing their knowledge.

For more information about Dr. Shannon Bennett and the microbiology department at the California Academy of Sciences:

A list of recent publications by Dr. Shannon N. Bennett:

1: Martin E, Chirivella M, Co JK, Santiago GA, Gubler DJ, Muñoz-Jordán JL,

Bennett SN. (2016, In Progress) Insights into the molecular evolution of Dengue virus type 4 inPuerto Rico over two decades of emergence. Virus Research, 213, 23-31.

2: Chandler, J. A., Liu, R. M., & Bennett, S. N. (2015). RNA shotgun metagenomic sequencing of northern California (USA) mosquitoes uncovers viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6, 185.

3: Chandler, J. A., Thongsripong, P., Green, A., Kittayapong, P., Wilcox, B. A., Schroth, G. P., … Bennett, S. N. (2014). Metagenomic shotgun sequencing of a Bunyavirus in wild-caught Aedes aegypti from Thailand informs the evolutionary and genomic history of the Phleboviruses. Virology, 0, 312–319.

4:Bennett, S. N., Gu, S. H., Kang, H. J., Arai, S., & Yanagihara, R. (2014). Reconstructing the evolutionary origins and phylogeography of hantaviruses. Trends in Microbiology, 22(8), 473–482.

Stephen writes:

Doctors Elde and Racaniello,

As a veteran of TWiV, I’m delighted to find TWiEVO. I look forward to many more excellent episodes.

I would like to submit a correction and a listener pick of the week.

As of 2/13/16, I don’t see any listener emails listed on the TWiEVO web site, so maybe no one has mentioned this. At one point in episode one, in discussing the Australian Sheep Blowfly, Nels says that the blowflies “they will lay their larvae in sheep,” In fact, blowflies (Calliphoridae) lay eggs on hosts.

Flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) are ovoviviparous, depositing larvae or hatching eggs on hosts.

I got interested in this issue last year after listening to the audiobook version of The Dante Club, in which the author makes the same mistake.

And, by the way, I do have Dean and Thornton on my iPhone.


As a listener pick of the week specific to TWiEVO, I suggest the wonderful Darwin’s Legacy, 2008, from Stanford University:

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