Animalcules vol. 1.2

Good morning! Welcome to your semimonthly dose of wholesome microbial goodness.

Lots on your plate this morning.

To whet your appetite, check out a study described over at Biology News examining the genomics of bacteria that cause ehrlichiosis. While you’re there, you might want to do some jaw exercises by repeating the names of the bacteria examined: Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, and Neorickettsia sennetsu. Talk about a mouthful.

Speaking of mouthful, PharmaBawd’s all about the herpes viruses, including chicken pox (varicella) and HHV-8: the cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma. Grab a salad, ’cause you’re going to want something to cleanse your palate after reading her post.

Mike the not-only-mad-but-also-famous biologist offers you an extra refreshing beverage, though you may want to hold the ice. And make sure you wash your hands–Mike edumacates you on the origin of antimicrobial resistance, and why more education is a good thing.

Microbial diversity is the main course today. Lunchlady Sandra fills you in on a project at Johns Hopkins, getting students involved in examining the microbial diversity all around them, while her co-worker Ruth discusses marriage–specifically, that of microbial ecology and environmental biotechnology to harness some of this diversity in order to benefit not only humans but the environment.

For dessert, Joseph cooks up a bioterrorism attack scenario. Not like Grandma used to make, I’d dare say.

Ewen’s responsible for the non-edible portion today, filling us in on how West Nile relates to Poison. No, not that poison. This Poison.————->
If that’s not exactly your cup of tea, check out his interview with astrobiologist Norman Pace, who studies extremophiles on earth in order to get an idea of what life on other planets may be like.

Someone must have forgotten to do the dishes, ’cause I see something scummy growing. Paul fills us in on the culprit–likely a bacterial biofilm. He also shares an idea that may help to eradicate it.

Of course, after a big meal, nothing sounds better than a nap. Speaking of which, gee, I wonder–do microbes “nap?” Whaddya know–Coturnix discusses circadian clocks–and it appears that at least some microbes do indeed possess one.

That’s it for this week. Be sure to stop back by in 2 weeks, where Animalcules will make its last stop here for awhile before it goes on the road–and again, let me know if you’re interested in hosting. Check out the schedule for available dates–I’ll fill ’em as I get volunteers.


  1. #1 Dave S.
    February 23, 2006

    Well…….I think I’ll just sit here with my refreshing ice cooled cup of fast-food Coke and read a bit…

    Mike the not-only-mad-but-also-famous biologist offers you an extra refreshing beverage, though you may want to hold the ice.

    PTOO…BLAH!!!! 🙂

  2. #2 coturnix
    February 23, 2006

    A delicious meal! And you are a gret hostess. Macrobiotic cuisine on the microcarnival.

  3. #3 Matt
    February 23, 2006

    Interesting collection – question: would prions fit into this carnival?

  4. #4 Tara
    February 23, 2006

    Sure, I’m a big fan of prions. Bring ’em on.

  5. #5 Hank Barnes
    February 23, 2006

    Dr. Smith has apparently banned me from the Padian thread, after mentioning my name a lot. Here’s what I would have posted:


    Oh my! … it’s a mutating attack from all angles:) (Tara, Dale, Dave S, Orac, some dude name Tony L, Guitar Eddie)

    Or, I reckon, a swarm of gnats to be swatted.

    I’d like to single out Dale, though. In all seriousness, he has (without all this circumlocution, snark, obfuscation, and evasion) answered the questions, and for that, he deserves genuine credit.

    The best answer, of course, is No. 7:

    7. When did you first learn of the existence of the Padian study?

    I think I learned about it from you Hank.

    I might frame this — Hey, you take what you can get:)

    Gentlemen, Doctors, Scholars:

    Had Padian’s prospective study resulted in, say, 125/175 seroconversions (71%) or 100/175 (57%) or 42/175 (24%), you would be touting Padian as evidence that HIV was in fact heterosexually transmissible, and, hence, that AIDS is an infectious disease. (As would I).

    Padian, herself, starts out her paper with the following:

    As of June 1996, a total of 44,980 cases (8 percent) of AIDS among adults and adolescents have been reported to the CDC that were attributed to heterosexual contact with a high risk or infected partner.

    An honest scientist, conducting an honest study, in hopes of honestly trying to explain this phenomenom known as AIDS, in hopes of honestly helping and/or curing patients would — after obtaining zero seroconversions — pause (one would hope), reflect on this result, and seriously question the afore-mentioned 44,980 cases attributable to heterosexual contact. Perhaps, they would also question what they believe about AIDS and why they believe it. (As I did).

    They might also question how the infinitesimal risk of heterosexual transmission explains how 1 million people in US are infected with HIV, and, why Padian’s data doesn’t strongly suggest that these 1 million HIV+ were simply born with said retrovirus.

    We might go back and forth all day on this, but I can confidently state 4 things:

    1. Y’all were ignorant of the Padian study for 9 years.

    2. Y’all are furiously trying to disregard/reinterpret its findings so that it is harmonized with your pre-existing beliefs and biases.

    3. The one fellow who figured all this out well before any of you, is Dr. Peter Duesberg, National Academy of Science.

    4. And you hate Dr. Duesberg, because he exposed y’all as absolute poseurs and charlatans on this topic.

    To conclude: We know that Dr. Hwang Woo Suk of stem cell frame is a fraud. We also know that Dr Robert Gallo of AIDS fame is a fraud, too.

    Does that mean our scientific system is corrupted on the whole? I don’t know. But the question remains: Is there any more fraud we should know about?

    Hammerin’ Hank Barnes

  6. #6 Moment of Science
    February 23, 2006


    Don’t you feel like an ass?


    You should.

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