Episode 47: Biofilms and bumblebees

This week Zach and Kelly talk about cheating in bacterial biofilms, and how the microbiome influences susceptibility to disease in bumble bees.


Trial of the Clone 2: Wrath of the Pacificist (Zach’s adventure of your own choosing game book) is up on Kickstarter!

Technically Speaking – A podcast about engineering, and the newest member of the Brachiolope Media Network family!

Paper 1 – Popat et al. 2012: Quorum-sensing and cheating in bacterial biofilms


Episode 42: Fecal transplants and eye development

Paper 2 – Koch and Schmid-Hempel 2012: Gut microbiota instead of host genotype drive the specificity of a natural host-parasite system

Red Queen hypothesis

Episode 25: Dr. Ryan Earley and “why are there males”?

1 thought on “Episode 47: Biofilms and bumblebees

  1. Jackson

    Kelly – one question re: the genomic aetiology of parasite resistance. I wld argue that if e.g. testosterone exhibits statistically significant correlation to parasite resistance in controlled experiments, the fundamental mechanism is inconsequential.

    While I’ve never fully accepted what might be called a strong interpretation of the RQ hypothesis — and am greatly satisied by the result of the Koch experiment — I would reason that microbiotic response to environmental factors ultinately controlled by a host’s genome is, in fact, of ultimate genomic aetiology: after all, if the genome were not producing the e.g. testosterone that either recruited more beneficial microbiota or evoked a more beeficial response from microörganisms already present, then the macroörganism would indeed be more susceptible to parasitic selection pressures.

    Whether some genetically synthetic factor promotes evolutionary fitness by some purely biochemical cascade of events or by recruitment of beneficial microörganisms seems irrelevant insofar as the RQ hypothesis is concerned! After all, as you have aptly and often reminded your listeners, the microbiota present in our bodies are a much a part of our finction as human organisms as is our endogenous biochemistry!

    Also: while I’m not sure whether you guys have intentionally assumed bad-cop, good-cop roles, but I’ve always found it somewhat counterintuitive that the less knowledgable of you two would play the hyper-sceptic; as you certainly know, Kelly, many of the objections raised are neither scientific or even sensible. Perhaps it would benefit the listeners less conversant with modern theory if you were less indulgent with the least sensible of these; at the least, you might demonstrate the scientific utility of subjecting one’s own reflexive objections to as much scrutiny as the science!

    Glad you’re back online this summer…take care!!


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