Mark writes:

Dear TWiM-opods,

Congratulations on your successful, long running show. You have great quality and interact many ways with listeners. There is only one thing wrong with TWiM – it is a bi-weekly show. What would it take to make it a weekly event?  Do you all think you could survive the fun and excitement of a weekly show?

Recently I made my annual trek from San Jose to Napa Valley, CA to pickup wine making supplies – two different primary  fermentation yeasts (one for red, one for white varietals), and bacteria for secondary malolactic fermentation. This is as close as I come to doing anything microbial. Attached is a picture that might interest your listeners.

The other picture shows a copper-bar in the tasting room of Mauritson Winery. The host was well aware of copper’s microbial properties. Strangely, he had not heard of TWiM, Dr. Michael Schmidt, or his research in using copper to limit hospital acquired infections. However he knows copper creates a safe, sterile bar surface.

The tasting room is located in the Dry Creek AVA area which is in the north western part of Sonoma Valley. Many of Mauritson’s wines come from the Rockpile AVA which is further north.

What is an AVA I sense your listeners asking. AVA stands for American Viticultural Area. These are distinct wine making area with unique  microclimate, soils, and elevation. Each of these elements impacts the taste and character of wine.

With this long, meandering introduction I now come the my recommended listener pick of the week. It’s a book dealing with practical aspects of microbiology. It is titled “From Vines to Wines” and it provides a overview of wine making  spanning from where to plant though fermentation. Its now in its 5th edition, though I have the prior one.

The weather here in Northern California is relatively cool for late summer. For about 10 days the temperature has not passed 80 degrees Farenheit. That’s about 27 for those who measure in Celsius.



Justin writes:

Interviews like the one you had with Dr. Sam Sternberg are always amazing. It’s so rare to grab someone who has the ability to speak about the history and future of a breakthrough technology. I would 100% read a book that details this.

Brian writes:

Dear Elio, Michelle, Michael, and Vincent,

Thank you for the podcast.

I’m a faculty member in the Applied Math Department at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I work on kinetic modelling of intracellular networks, with a current focus on bacterial genetics. I came to biology rather late in my career, and so I have significant gaps in my background. The TWIM podcast is an ideal way for me to gain broad exposure to ongoing research in microbiology.

I’ve especially enjoyed those occasions when you discuss papers that employ computational modelling. As you know, those tools are unfamiliar to a lot of folks working in this area. Outreach efforts like yours are valuable for helping people appreciate their potential, and also their limitations.

All the best, and thank you again for your efforts.


Johnye writes:

Entertaining and outstanding review and historical presentation of CRISPR-Cas for a lay scientist. Dr. Sternberg’s responses to your guide questions was clear, clean and CRISP. Looking forward to reading the book.

Thank you Professor R.

Best to all.

Johnye Ballenger


18 C, with peek-a-boo showers and gusts of wind.

Maggi writes:

Dear Twimmers,

I am an avid listener of both TWiM and TWiEvO and I am a huge fan. As a graduate student at The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (affectionately referred to as OIST), I credit your podcasts with keeping me connected to the scientific community outside our tiny isolated island, but I never expected TWiM to connect me to science happening in Okinawa! I was both surprised and elated to learn about Prof. Yu Matsuura’s work on microbial symbioses in cicadas on TWiM 183. The first conference I attended as a PhD student was the Animal-Microbe Symbioses GRC that Yu talked about in the Atlantic article included in the show notes. I learned about cicada bacterial symbionts then, but of course the role of fungus wasn’t public knowledge, and I had no idea Prof. Matsuura was in the process of discovering it right down the road at Ryudai (short for University of the Ryukyus). After listening to the TWiM episode, I immediately emailed Prof. Matsuura and invited him to speak at Nerd Nite Okinawa, a monthly science communication event I facilitate. Hopefully, he will educate us about all the microbial symbionts of cicadas after his busy fall field season is completed this year. Thank you so much for helping me make a new connection all the way in Okinawa!

Thank you also for your amazing podcasts! I only wish they were released more frequently (especially TWiEvo)!

Before I sign off, I’d like to share my work, as well. I am studying symbiosis in marine microbial eukaryotes for my PhD research and the first paper from my dissertation was just published: Intra-host symbiont diversity and extended symbiont maintenance in photosymbiotic Acantharea ( The Acantharea are the incredibly beautiful heterotrophic plankton made famous by Ernst Haeckel’s intricate drawings. They are rather unique both because their endosymbiotic algae are haptophytes instead of dinoflagellates, like in coral and other radiolarians, and because their elaborate skeletons are made of Strontium Sulfate. My paper demonstrates that acanthodians are also unique in the diversity of their symbionts within single hosts. Basically, they are fascinating, but still mysterious, members of the marine microbial community. Perhaps this paper would make a nice snippet in the future, if you have another symbiosis episode planned 😉

Thank you again and very best wishes from Okinawa,


Weather here is Hot (84F), Humid (85%), and currently a little overcast


Margaret Mars Brisbin, PhD Candidate

Marine Biophysics Unit

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

Graduate University

Okinawa, Japan