Jared writes:

I have been hooked on almost all of the Microbe podcasts since I first discovered them a few months ago, enjoying everyone’s impressive and insightful discussions that build upon my existing knowledge of microbes and immunology.

My question is about the field of microbiology research as a whole. I am currently an RN but I’m also considering going back to school to pursue secondary degrees that would lead me into participating in the research I have been so enthralled by listening to the podcast. 

What role or valuable perspective could someone with a nursing background bring to this work? And secondly, seeing as how I would likely be approaching 40 before obtaining a PhD, is that too late in life to enter the field?

Best regards, 


– Dallas, TX

Robin writes:

Hi all, I am sending this to both Twiv and Twim in hopes of getting an answer (I listen to both and enjoy thoroughly).  

I have a friend who stores cooked food in a microwave rather than the refrigerator.  I have admonished him for doing so but he claims all is good as he re-microwaves said food prior to eating it.  I know there are pathogens that produce toxins such that even if you cook the food and kill the pathogens, the toxins still remain and can be sickening or even lethal.  Can you please tell me if what I claim about possible pathogens and toxins is true and if so can you please tell me what pathogens you would be concerned about in this way of food storage; essentially room temp just not out on a counter?  

PS he claims the inside of his microwave is clean and provides an antiseptic environment.  I have seen the inside of it and it is not clean!


San Pablo

Retired Physical Science teacher with a Life Science education therefore with interest in all sciences

Let your life speak for you…it is said, “How you live your life speaks so loudly that others can’t hear what you are saying anyway.”

Arthur writes:

Hello TWIM-ers!

I am writing today in relation to your discussion of highly genome-reduced organisms that were discussed in episode 222. I thoroughly enjoyed your discussion on the newly described “nanobacteria,” but was inspired to write in about some small-sized friends I worked with for my PhD. Mycoplasmas (which your group has spoken on before) are highly genome reduced, parasitic bacteria that are related to gram positives and have lost the cell wall. These organisms routinely have genomes smaller than 1 Mb, and in the case of M. genitalium have the (possibly) still smallest genome recorded (<600,000 bp) for an organism capable of independent replication. These organisms have highly limited metabolic capabilities, and can’t synthesize many of the precursors for nucleotide production, or amino acids – they scavenge them all from the host!

It was mentioned that these nanobacteria are one of the only groups of bacteria to have a single copy of the 16S rRNA, but I am happy to inform you that Mollicutes (many of them) have a single copy present. Many also have a single copy of the 23S rRNA, and discussions within the Mycoplasma field have suggested exactly what you did – that they may be underrepresented within the literature because of a dilution effect of other bacteria with more copies of the rRNA operons typically used.

Thank you for giving people food for thought and continuing to bring up fun findings in Microbiology that I might not otherwise have found!

Best wishes and stay safe!

Arthur H. Totten, Ph.D.

Clinical Microbiology Fellow