The genetics of germs – Naked Genetics 12.11.14

Tuberculosis bacteria (c) Janice Carr

Our world – and our bodies – are teeming with bacteria. And although some of them are friendly, many of them are not. Plus, electrifying news about bacterial nanowires, cuddly koalas, and counting chromosomes, and our gene of the month is the mindblowing Mind Bomb.  

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In this edition of Naked Genetics

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  • E. coli bacteria (c) NIAID

    01:03 – Bugs and bladder infections

    Bacterial infections cause millions of deaths around the world every year. But countless more aren’t fatal yet cause untold misery and pain. To find out more, I spoke to Dr Jenny Rohn at University College London.

  • acupuncture (c) Kyle Hunter

    09:26 – Genes and the placebo effect

    Researchers have found that a person’s genes may affect how likely they are to respond to the placebo effect.

  • Sulphide bacteria (c) NASA

    12:08 – Bacterial nanowires

    Tiny bacteria living in stinky mud can gang up to create tiny electrical nanowires.

  • A koala climbing up a tree in Cape Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia. (c) Diliff

    13:50 – Koalas in trouble

    Researchers have found worryingly low levels of genetic diversity in koala bears

  • DNA extraction (c) Bietenduevel

    18:04 – DNA smart-gel

    It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but scientists have developed a DNA-based “smart gel” that can contract and move in response to stimuli in a similar way to living cells.

  • DNA (c) Mnolf

    19:29 – Germ genomes

    Dr Matt Holden at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge reveals how advances in genome sequencing are helping researchers and doctors to understand more about bad bacteria, and even to track infections as they happen.

  • 23 pairs of human chromosomes (c) Courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute

    25:09 – What determines the chromosome count of orga

    Dear NS,

    How did the different organisms get their chromosome count? We have 23, and ferns have over 100, so it doesnt’ seem to be linked to complexity. How does that change over time?


    Jeff in Virgina, United States.

  • A zebrafish, zebra danio (c) Azul @ wikipedia

    27:48 – Gene of the month – Mind Bomb

    Our gene of the month is Mind Bomb. First described in zebrafish, fish with faults in their Mind Bomb gene have big problems with developing a nervous system or muscles.

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