TWiV 154: Symbiotic safecrackers

mmtvHosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, and Rich Condit

Vincent, Alan, and Rich are very enthusiastic about two studies that show how gut bacteria help viral invaders.

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Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV 154 (46 MB .mp3, 77 minutes).

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks

Alan – SciWriteLabs
Vincent – Take as directed

Listener Pick of the Week

TonyIntroduction to AI online course

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5 thoughts on “TWiV 154: Symbiotic safecrackers”

  1. Can we be sure that colonizing bacteria from other sites in the body aren’t playing a role in these kind of studies? When you administer antibiotics is there any way to selectively remove the microbiota from say the upper respiratory tract or the skin? This is said in light of the paper showing a link between gut bacteria and influenza immunity and especially given the different taxa present at each site. I can imagine that we’re about to uncover a whole load of complexity at the interface of the bacteria/host/virus. Very exciting work!

  2. Delighted to see your Listener Pick of the Week mention Stanford’s public AI online course which started two weeks ago.  There are two more CS courses being offered publicly right now, Introduction to Databases and Introduction to Machine Learning .  These two are organized a little differently (better, in my opinion) and use a different platform than the AI course to play their videos, run quizzes, and take programming assignment submissions.

    Here is an article about the courses:

    Prof. Widom discusses some of the history behind the creation of the courses in the first 2.5 minutes of this “Screenside Chat”:

    They have been moving lectures online in some of the regular Stanford CS courses which allows class time to be used for more interesting activities as well as the professors to not have to give the same lectures over and over.  Also she mentions that the current public online courses with a simultaneous community of students have attracted about 100 times as many students as when the course materials were available online passively.

  3. Very good question – antibiotic treatment certainly is not selective for gut microbiotac. In these two cases there is direct interaction of LPS with virus, so it seems likely that the source of LPS is the gut microbiome. But certainly other microbiomes could have a long distance impact, as in the example you cite. You are right in that there is a whole new level of complexity here – not only local effects of microbiome on virus susceptibility, but long distance effects as well.

  4. Thanks for posting the additional online course information. I’m interested in modifying my virology course ( to make it more interactive as are these Stanford courses. The AI course is unfortunately closed out as taking it would be the best way to see how it works.

  5. If you would like to see how the AI course works, you can still see almost everything without being registered.  All of the lecture videos are accessible along with the clickable quizzes that are overlaid on the videos.  The homework videos are not accessible from the course Web site while unregistered but you can currently view the homework and answer videos from week 1 on the Youtube account .  (Search for “homework” among the uploaded videos.)  You just won’t get the clickable fields overlaid on the homework videos directly at Youtube but they work the same as the clickable quizzes that you can see when you watch the lecture Youtube videos via the course Web site.

    The link to the discussion forums has been greyed out on the course Web site while unregistered but they are actually publicly available. is the official forum for the AI course and http://reddit/r/aiclass is another forum on Reddit.

    That leaves the only parts of the course Web site that you can’t see while unregistered are the Progress and Profile areas which keep track of what you have completed, your scores, and your account information.  Hope this helps!

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