Tim writes:

in twiv 221 Dickson was in his full form funny and breathing loudly into mic. Not sure whether to find endearing or irritating. : )

Dave writes:

Thank you again for the TWiV mention! The models do work well and I am now in the process of assessing the success.

Have a great week!


PS Lawrence University is in Appleton Wisconsin just south of Green Bay (home of the packers)

Richard writes:

Hi Vince and co-presenters,

Enjoyed your last TWIV about newly emerging bunyaviruses. A couple of comments. Firstly, SFTSV (that really is a dreadful name, it goes against the tradition of naming bunyaviruses after their place of isolation, and severe fever and thrombocytopenia are hardly specific to this virus, think about all the arenaviruses causing haemorrhagic fever). I don’t know whether this was picked up previously on TWIV but there was a report in NEJM about another phlebovirus, called Heartland virus, that caused two independent human infections associated with tick bites in Missouri.

McMullan et al (2012) 367:834-841 A New Phlebovirus Associated with Severe Febrile Illness in Missouri


It turns that this virus is related to SFTSV.

Regarding Schmallenberg virus, our group did indeed establish a reverse genetics system (the “old fashioned” way by high fidelity long range RT-PCR to make full length clones, rather than Massimo Palmarini’s synthetic approach), that was published on line in J General Virology at the end of 2012 (J. Gen. Virol. 19 Dec 2012 (doi: 10.1099/vir.0.049981-0). We also showed that a recombinant virus lacking NSs is a good interferon inducer.

Kathy was right when she said I was moving to Glasgow, or rather returning to Glasgow – the lab moves later this month.

Best regards,


Richard M. Elliott FRSE

Professor of Virology and

Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator

Biomedical Sciences Research Complex, University of St Andrews.

Massimo writes:

Hi Vincent

I trust everything goes well with you. It was nice to hear you discussing our paper on Schmallenberg. I wanted to clarify just a couple of points:

i. Richard Elliott has developed independently also a reverse genetics system for SBV. He has a paper that has been published online in December in JGV and I guess will come out soon in its final version.

ii. Richard is as you know an excellent molecular virologist. He is soooo good that we recruited him back to Glasgow J. So Kathy was right….please pass my best regards to Kathy too.

Finally, you might be interested to know that our PhD students and post-docs have awarded the 2013 Sir Michael Stoker Award to Francois Barre-Sinoussi….. so you are in good company J!

All the best


Prof. Massimo Palmarini DVM PhD FRSE FSB, Director

MRC – University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

Suzanne writes:

I heard an interview with Dr. Oz from several years ago where he talked about bringing more aspects of spirituality into the hospital setting. I was honestly impressed (no, wait, hear me out 🙂 with many of the things he said. At the time, though, he seemed to be saying that was a necessary human, social side of interactions patients might need in addition to the medical side. I think that’s a laudable goal. I don’t watch his show and don’t keep track of what he’s saying these days. I don’t know if his views have changed or if I was hearing things through the filter of the  interviewer’s questions. But if his focus on spirituality now means replacing means tested methods or even just adding to them when those additions might be dangerous, that’s a sad thing, indeed. Somebody needs to direct him to the Quackcast 😉

Or you know, just “tested methods”. Not sure why my brain added “means” in there. Politics and economics on my mind, possibly.

Bill writes:

Kathy, Vincent, Dickson et al…while listening to the first discussion involving ticks–and thinking back to all of the ticks I found in my apartment while living in deer-infested in rural central Virginia (2010-12), the statement was made that ticks were everywhere except in Antarctica. My immediate thought was, “Really?” I knew that there had been research on midges at Palmer Station, one of the places I’ve spent time at…they are insects, also arthropods. And then, surprisingly, the second discussion involved midges!

So after getting home from running (when I usually listen) I had to investigate. And sure enough, there ARE ticks. They are parasitic upon sea birds (not mammals) in the warmer parts of the continent–basically the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands. The significant species is Ixodes uriae, known variously as the seabird tick or the Antarctic tick. I found several papers; this brief one http://www.mncn.csic.es/docs/repositorio//es_ES//investigacion/Ecologia_evolutiva/Cuervo/1285.pdf describes their distribution along the Antarctic Peninsula (in figure 1, Humble Island, location 6, is about 1/2 km offshore of Palmer Station and I’ve been there). Also of interest is this 2008 Antarctic Sun article, quoting penguin researcher Ron Naveen: “It’s a terrible thing to see,” Naveen said. “The ticks get into the adult penguins’ feathers. The penguins start scratching. They stop paying attention to the eggs … We don’t have an answer to this question yet about the timing of it all.” http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/science/contentHandler.cfm?id=1507

Back to practical matters, this CDC site http://www.dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/html/Ticks.htm says, “While ticks as a whole are worldwide in distribution, most species are restricted to various regions. All major biogeographic regions (except Antarctica) have tick species of public health importance.”

As for the midges, the ones which inhabit the Antarctic Peninsula are Belgica Antarctica, they are flightless midges, at 2-6mm they are the largest purely terrestrial animal on the Antarctic continent, and the only insect (Wikipedia). They eat bacteria, detritus, and algae and have a 2-year life cycle. Antarctic Sun article: http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/science/contenthandler.cfm?id=2018

With both of these parasites, warming temperatures and tourists are spreading them southward, and there are reports of invasive species as well.

This was fun, thanks again for attempting to stimulate this construction engineer’s interest in smaller things.





Bill Spindler’s Antarctica

Tim writes:

I have listened to your podcasts on science360 for over a year while traveling and continue to do so here on internet radio and now since I can easily listen to your podcasts/web-wise, and re-listen online to reinforce what I hear. This area of knowledge isn’t my forte but I do love learning and yourself and your guests give me lots of material and motivation to learn, even at my old age now. My background is IT/Unix/TCP/IP development in the 70’s and 80’s.

I have always had an interest and love for what, biologically, makes us live and the practical issues faced by doing so.

Your podcast conversations motivate me to learn further and in the capacity that I can, I do and I thank you all a lot for that.

This is just a note of thanks to yourself, your regular and other guests and entire team that makes it happen.

Tim – a listener in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Daniel writes:

I guess for every:

Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson (Liveright, April 15) – Wilson channels Rilke in this epistolary series meant to inspire future generations of creative, curious scientists. He articulates why good science is so necessary to civilization and how aspiring scientists can best take advantage of their own research interests. Wilson’s own personal anecdotes from a long, distinguished career add richness and depth.

There will be a:

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre (FSG/Faber and Faber, February 5) – A journalist and physician, Goldacre focuses his ire on the pharmaceutical industry’s deceptive practices from the research laboratory to the doctor’s office. Writing for laypersons, he shows how research is faked, statistics are twisted, and doctors are compromised by a horribly disfigured web of money and political influence.

Your wife must be so happy…I’m sure it will be objective and fair.


Peter writes:

Dear Twiv team

From a cloudy, cold and damp England 4°C Humidity: 87%

Not directly related to virology but I thought that this may be of interest to you and your listeners:

The AllTrials campaign http://www.alltrials.net/

Campaigning for the publication of the results (that is, full clinical study reports) from all clinical trials – past, present and future – on all treatments currently being used.

GSK have announced that they are signing up to the alltrials.net campaign.

Dr Ben Goldacre who helped develop the AllTrials campaign is also campaigning for true evidence based social policy from government:


I do have some questions about viruses,

(1) Are there any retroviruses of prokaryotes?

(2) Are there any retroviruses of protozoa?

(3) Are there any phages that infect bacteria or chloroplasts? I assume they are protected by being inside eukaryotic cells.

(4) As mitochondria and chloroplasts evolved from engulfed prokaryotes that at one time existed as independent organisms is there any evidence for ERV’s in the mitochondrial or chloroplast genomes?


Cristina writes:

Dear Twi[v, p, m, and more?]

Thank you for making our lives better. I’ve been finding a refuge of sanity and happiness listening to you for a long time. I have a plea for help.

I’m a graduate student in neuroscience (thanks for all the viruses) and when I walk like many others look for some science. I thought I would learn something about cellular biology to understand you guys better; I bought ‘The wisdom of your cells’ by Bruce Lipton. Glowing reviews on Amazon, Audible, everywhere. But the book itself is piled with new age phrenological quackery. The book compares the author to Rachel Carson and Stephen Hawking, according to (now very ironically named) publishing company ‘Sounds True’. How can we fight this kind of science noise? In retrospect, I should have known better. The word ‘wisdom’ should have tipped me off. If we peer-review the science we publish for each other (or put it on arxiv) – why is it ok to broadcast nonsense to the rest of the world with the ‘endorsement of science’? Do you guys know anything we can do as scientists to stop this kind of thing? News stations cannot tell open lies; There is some expectation that what is printed for ‘the public’ is in some sense true. But when it comes to ‘popular science’ there seems to be no limit. Do you do anti-picks? 🙂 I have spent a lot of money buying popular science audiobooks and I have never found anything nearly as good as your podcasts in terms of being true. It felt like I was briefly in the dark ages.

I should just listen only to Twi (x).

Mark writes:

This IEEE piece on Stuxnet computer virus is.gd/0R7YTY might interest TWiV listeners: entry, pathogenesis, replication…

John writes:

Dear TWIVvers,

I thought this would make a fun reader pick of the week. It’s the story of a completely mechanical kind of virus-like spread of a property. (It’s really more like a prion than like a virus.)


Thanks again for your wonderful podcasts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *