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Friday, 22 September 2017 01:48

TWiM 161 Letters

Written by 
Published in Letters

Anthony writes:

Will this be on TWiX?

I recognized Dr. Hotez's name from TWiP.

I've read that the Biblical plagues of Egypt were based on an actual flood and its disease aftermath.



# # #


Roman writes:

Dear TWiM team,

My name is Roman, I am a bioinformatics enthusiast from Odessa, Ukraine.

I've been listening to TWiM for 1.5 years now, and recently also to TWiV.

Inspired by you, I decided to record my own bioscience podcast, "the bioinformatics chat".

On the most recent, 9th, episode, I was joined by Michael Tessler from the American Museum of Natural History and Christopher Mason from Weill Cornell Medicine. We discussed the discrepancies in microbial diversity when measured by the 16S amplicon sequencing versus shotgun sequencing.

It's a bit technical, but I thought some of you and your listeners may find it interesting. The episode is at

Thanks for the great show!


John writes:

RE: TWiM 159, immunophage synergy


Fascinating study. 1 question.

You talk a lot about adaptive vs innate immunity, but is there anything peculiar about mucosal immunity in particular that could shed light on the results?

IgA vs. IgG*


Anthony writes:

Anthony hat am 5. August 2017 um 03:04 geschrieben:

Microbiome analysis and confocal microscopy of used kitchen sponges reveal massive colonization by Acinetobacter, Moraxella and Chryseobacterium species

What about using bleach along with the dishwashing liquid when washing dishes?  That's for every time dishes are cleaned -- not just for occasional sanitation of the sponge.  In addition, once a week the sponge is replaced.

I raise cage birds and started using the bleach to minimize the risk of a disease spreading from one bird to the whole group through washing the food and water cups.  

Thank you.



Prof. Dr. Markus Egert

Professor for Microbiology & Hygiene

Furtwangen University

Faculty of Medical & Life Sciences (MLS), Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM)

Vice Dean & Dean of Studies "Molecular & Technical Medicine"

D-78054 VS-Schwenningen (Germany)


Dear Anthony,

many thanks for your interest.

Our study suggests that keeping and continuously cleaning a kitchen sponge for too long, might lead to a microbial community inside the sponge that contains higher shares of potentially pathogenic bacteria.

Classical sponge cleaning techniques (e.g., boiling in hot water, cleaning in a washing machine at > 60°C using a solid detergent with bleach) will surely lead to a significant germ reduction in the sponges, which is definitely good (for the moment). However, in view of local germ densities of more than 50 billions per cm 3 , organized in hard-to-destroy biofilm like structures, and since killing curves usually can be described with negative exponential functions, it is always likely that some (more resistant) germs will survive even the harshest treatments and grow up again to a community with a higher share of potential pathogens.

Based on our study we therefore recommend that - instead of keeping your sponge for too long and cleaning it only ineffectually - one should regularly replace it, in particular and more often when you live/work in a hygiene-sensitive area (hospital, cafeteria...) or if you have ill/immunocompromised (old) people at home.

However, after having used them in the kitchen, you might surely use older sponges in other areas of your house, where hygiene is less important than in the kitchen (where food is prepared), e.g. to clean the bathroom/toilet or for garden work.

I hope my answers help a bit!

Best regards, Markus


Jim writes:

Dunno if you guys heard/saw this, but didn't want you to miss it.  The audio file is attached.

Paper-fuges 15 mins - “Inventor turns everyday materials into powerful scientific devices, from paper microscopes to a clever new mosquito tracker. From the TED Fellows stage, he demos Paperfuge, a hand-powered centrifuge inspired by a spinning toy that costs 20 cents to make and can do the work of a $1,000 machine, no electricity required.” At the link find the title, “Lifesaving scientific tools made of paper | Manu Prakash, Jul, 2017,” right-click “Media files ManuPrakash_2017U.mp4” and select “Save Link As” from the pop-up menu.

Regards, Jim Vandiver, Smithfield, VA

Also video..

Last modified on Friday, 22 September 2017 01:52
Vincent Racaniello

Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D. is Professor of Microbiology at Columbia University Medical Center. As principal investigator of his laboratory, he oversees the research that is carried out by Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. He also teaches virology to graduate students, as well as medical, dental, and nursing students.

Vincent entered the world of social media in 2004 with virology blog, followed by This Week in Virology. Videocasts of lectures from his undergraduate virology course are on iTunes University and virology blog. You can find him on WikipediaTwitter, Facebook, and Instagram. His goal is to be Earth’s virology professor. In recognition of his contribution to microbiology education, he was awarded the Peter Wildy Prize for Microbiology Education by the Society for General Microbiology. His Wildy Lecture provides an overview of how he uses social media for science communication.