TWiV 10: Bats, elephants, and AIDS

December 4, 2008

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello and Dickson Despommier

Guest: Alan Dove

Vincent, DIck, and Alan chat about reconstruction of a bat SARS-like coronavirus, herpesviruses that are killing elephants in zoos, and a plan to eradicate AIDS in ten years.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #10 (18.2 MB .mp3, 39 minutes)

Links for this episode:

Science podcast pick of the week: Futures in Biotech.
Science book of the week: Principles of Molecular Virology, by AJ Cann.

Send your virology questions to twiv@twiv.tv.

Subscribe to TWiV in iTunes or by the RSS feed.

  • http://cantmakeadifference.blogspot.com Steven

    I have a copy of Principles of Molecular Virology, by AJ Cann. but I didn't realise it was the same guy who did MicrobiologyBytes. Small world.

  • http://www.virology.ws profvrr

    Yes, especially the scientific world, very small indeed.

    Do you like the book?

  • Daniela M.

    Hi Dick and Vincent! I just want to let you know I really love and appreciate your pod cast, thank you! Also, I have a question about something you said in the last episode. You said that all diseases originally began as animal diseases. If that is the case, I was wondering then, what the original animal reservoirs were for the diseases that harbor no animal reservoir today, such as polio, and why/how the disease died out in the non-human population?

  • http://cantmakeadifference.blogspot.com Steven

    I they said that they think all human viruses originated in animals. In other words we don't get diseases crossing from infecting plants to infecting humans. Also, humans are animals.

    Yes Vincent I do like that book.

  • profvrr

    Hi Daniela,

    Thank you very much for the nice comments. It's always good to hear
    that the podcast being appreciated.

    You ask an excellent question, one that we will discuss on the next
    episode. But in case you would like to know the answer now, here it
    is: all the viruses of humans that we know of today originated from
    animal viruses, as I said on the podcast. This is because all the main
    types of viruses probably evolved long before humans were on earth. In
    some cases, there are still animal reservoirs for human viruses. For
    example, it is believed that measles viruses evolved from a related
    virus of cattle, rinderpest virus, about 5000 years ago. Today both
    viruses exist in both animal species. However, in some cases like
    poliovirus we do not know what was the original animal virus.
    Therefore we conclude that after entering humans from an animal, this
    virus died out in the animal population. We don't know the reason for
    the extinction of the virus in the animal population, but there are
    many possibilities: the animal species may have become extinct, or the
    virus evolved not to infect that host any longer.

  • profvrr

    Steven,

    It is believed that some viruses have in fact crossed from plants to
    animals. The evidence comes from two different viruses with circular
    ssDNA genomes: circoviruses of animals and nanoviruses of plants.
    Based on sequence analysis, it is likely that nanovirus was
    transferred from plant to vertebrate perhaps when the animal was
    exposed to infected plant sap. This transfer may have established the
    circovirus family. How often this occurs is not known.

  • Daniela M.

    Thanks, that’s really amazing stuff, cant wait for the next podcast!

  • http://cantmakeadifference.blogspot.com Steven

    That is interesting. You wouldn't think that is happens often but then again it doesn't need to for viruses. There are so many of them and some have a high mutation rate so its bound to happen I guess.

  • Daniela M.

    Thanks, that’s really amazing stuff, cant wait for the next podcast!

  • http://cantmakeadifference.blogspot.com Steven

    That is interesting. You wouldn't think that is happens often but then again it doesn't need to for viruses. There are so many of them and some have a high mutation rate so its bound to happen I guess.

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