Jared writes:

Hi, just a couple brief comments, on the spread of rabies within bat populations, doesn’t the twiv team know about blood sharing?? reference attached. also, I would like to second the call for more episodes on plant viruses. personally I would love to know if there is anything known on the interaction of orchid and symbiotic fungi viruses.

reference: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8dwAT4VdQdjbV9UYUN6WmZ2cVZ3c1BZM3VnZzZlZmpJNjA4/view?usp=sharing

Seweyrn writes:

Dear TWiVeroos,

Greetings from a partly sunny Brisbane where it’s 24C and 83% relative humidity on this 8th day of “Autumn”. Just a quick comment on the recent discussion on bat transmission of rabies. Bat lyssavirus, a close rhabdovirus relative of rabies, is capable of causing rabies-like disease in humans through bites as well as scratches, presumably from claws covered with residual saliva. As noted by the eminent podcast panel, bats are highly social animals which live in densely packed colonies, so transmission between bats could potentially occur through intentional or accidental scratching as the individual bats are jostling for position, fighting, mating, etc…



PS – Please be nice to Dickson; musings and speculation form important parts of the lateral thinking and discussion process and can lead to novel concepts and discoveries.

Seweryn Bialasiewicz, PhD

QPID Queensland Paediatric Infectious Diseases Laboratory

CCHR Centre for Children’s Health Research | Children’s Health Queensland Hospital & Queensland University of Technology

CHRC Child Health Research Centre | The University of Queensland

Steen writes:

Dear hosts (and microbes),

Please consider discussing a paper that uses recent improvements in electron cryo-microscopy. I see that you have discussed cryo-EM structures before (TWiV 101), but it sounds like there have been substantial improvements since then. Here are several reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4.

One improved structure you might discuss or snippet is cowpea mosaic virus: http://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10113

This open access paper came out a few months ago, and a press release (with a link to a video) just appeared. The paper has a nice overview of the virus genome and virion structure (Figure 1) and a cartoon of how assembly might work (Figure 8).

The authors are interested in using CPMV virions for drug delivery, and infectious CPMV clones are an amazing tool for driving protein production in plants (including antibodies and antigens for vaccines) which can accumulate to 20% of total extractable protein. That is some impressive hijacking of translation!

p.s. I listen to TWiV to hear the latest news on reverse genetic interrogation of mutant protein expression during infection.

(122 characters).

Phoebe writes:

Dear Vincent & friends,

I am a professor at a small liberal arts college where I teach and do research with undergraduates.  My Ph.D. Is in Microbiology & Molecular Genetics; although there were virologists in the department, I earned my Ph.D. studying bacteria rather than viruses.

Through teaching undergraduates a senior-level elective in virology, I have noticed that the term “reversivirus,” referring to dsDNA reverse transcribing viruses, is found in many online sites that undergraduates like (quizlet.com; slideshare.com, wikipedia, and quite a few others…).  My students are intrigued by this evocative word, “reversivirus.”  But if I search the vast “Web of Knowledge” database for the term “reversivirus” I get no hits at all. I can find “reversivirus” used in quotations in a few books using Google; one of these references is as early as 1988 but at that time, the term “pararetrovirus” was sometimes also in use to refer to this same group.

I can find the term in some textbooks, such as the book Topley & Wilson’s Microbiology & Microbial Infections and the book Principles of Microbiology by Sumbali & Mehrotra, but not in others (yours; Fields).  

I am a microbiologist, but not a virologist.  Thus I do not know if virologists actually use the word “reversivirus” in casual conversation or in teaching.  I did notice that TWiV #49 calls these “gapped dsDNA genome viruses.”

What do you think, is “reversivirus” a wonderful evocative term for “dsDNA reverse transcribing viruses,” or should I throw it in file 13 and caution my students against its use?  Do you know who may have invented it?



Friz writes:

Good morning. First the requisite weather report. It’s 26 F or -4 C and relatively clear on this early March morning in NE Pennsylvania. I really wish I knew my metric units better, had to look it up to give this report.

This is a bit pedantic, but I know how you have been taught not to anthropomorphize. In TWiV 372 you mention that the virus evolution takes something into account. It seems that taking something into account is anthropomorphic in nature. Not sure what wording could be used instead, but thought I’d point it out. And as mentioned in the episode, sometimes anthropomorphism helps, even if it’s not technically correct.

Love the show, learning a lot for someone not in the field of biology.

– Friz

Karina writes:

Thank you for bringing the oft overlooked legacy of this pioneering pre-eminent world renowned virologist to light. As a graduate student in Dr. Youngner’s department we were in awe of having such an unassuming luminary in our midst – historic accounts of the development of the Polio vaccine have largely focused solely on Dr. Salk and omitted the seminal contributions of this great scientist of immense integrity. Is the talk you gave available online, Dr. Racaniello? Another couple of recommendations for future visits to Pittsburgh: Dr. Joseph Glorioso and Dr. Charles Rinaldo. Also thank you for all your contributions to virology in science and on You tube.

Mark writes:

Hello Alan, Dickson, Kathy, Rich and Vincent—  or those who are present,

As I write this in early March, I am sure the weather where each of you dwell is somewhere between wonderful, terrible, or just “meh”. Today, here in San Jose, CA we had a mostly cloudy day temperature in the mid-60s day in between rain days in our current 7-10 day El Nino storm pattern. We discovered it in January at the start of California’s current El Nino. For those keeping track, our state is about 10-15% ahead of normal rainfall. This is good news, but not enough to recharge depleted reservoirs and water tables.

To TWiV listeners to learn more about predicted and current weather I recommend “MyRadar” — an app available on iOS, Android, and maybe other smart phones.

MyRadar uses data from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The choice of display colors for maps and overlays lets you customize something as common or idiosyncratic as you desire.

The MyRadar app lets you view current weather conditions. Viewing storm fronts is especially valuable. You can pick a location and center it on the map with a tap on the screen. Then you can adjust the magnification and zoom and see what weather is coming where you are or want to be. It shows rain, snow, other precipitation, or simple sunshine.

This may sound confusing, but it is really simple if you download and use this free app. You can also overlay wind directions — a cool vector field for all of us who vaguely remember their vector calculus. Note that the free version has a small ad which an in-app-purchase upgrade will remove. Other informational displays are available for in-app purchase as well.

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