We can’t talk to the dead, but in their own way, the dead can speak to us. Death and decomposition is the beginning of new life for the many microbes that take over our bodies after we die: an environment known as the “necrobiome.”
Poop. You flush it, and usually that’s the end of the story. But to scientists like Mark Smith, poop is more than just waste – it’s medicine.
Do you remember your first birthday present? No? Good, because it’s gross. Your first birthday present was actually the microbial bath you got if your mother delivered you vaginally—the beginning of your very own microbiome.
This squishy species is no bigger than a golf ball, making the squid a tasty mouthful for any hungry hunter that feeds along the coastal waters of Hawaii. To avoid becoming a snack, the bobtail squid has formed a powerful alliance with a luminous bacteria, and at nighttime, these tiny tenants will glow to match the pattern of moonlight coming from above.
In this episode, Ed Yong explores the secrets behind termites’ power to digest an abundant source of food: wood. The key is microbes in their gut. Ed checks in with Princeton scientist Xinning Zhang to learn how termites evolved into wood-eating specialists about 150 million years ago, and how they use a unique social behavior to pass along the microbes.
In this episode, Ed talks to Martin Kaltenpoth about something strange he found inside the mother beewolf’s antennae—a paste packed with bacteria called Streptomyces. Ed and Martin discuss what a beewolf is doing with this antibacterial goo, and what exactly would go wrong if she didn’t have access to it.
Ed looks at shocking new footage of mutating bacteria thriving in antibiotics a thousand times stronger than can kill their non-superbug ancestors.
In this episode, Ed talks to Colleen Cavanaugh and finds out how the tubeworm can live in complete darkness and, more curiously, without even having a mouth or anus. In a process called chemosynthesis, symbiotic bacteria inside the tubeworm use hydrogen sulfide spewed from the vents as an energy source for themselves and for the worms.
Ed Yong talks with Scott O’Neill, Professor at Monash University and leader of the Eliminate Dengue project, about his plan to infect the mosquito with a bacteria called Wolbachia that spreads through the mosquito population and stops the transmission of dengue.