Episode Summary

Vibrio cholerae causes a severe gastrointestinal illness that leads to massive fluid loss that can be fatal. These bacteria are normally found in the marine environment, but they can spread rapidly through human populations and cause large epidemics. V. cholerae are able to coordinate their activities by “talking” to each other through quorum sensing, and to eradicate competitors through a harpoon-like appendage that stabs and kills other bacteria.

Dr. Brian Hammer is an associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology who studies V. cholerae and its ability to coordinate activities with its friends and kill off its enemies.

Dr. Hammer talks about how he uses zebrafish to study V. cholerae within the gastrointestinal tract, the advantages of utilizing a transparent fish that can be immobilized under a microscope, how bacteria coordinate social behaviors through quorum sensing, how the metabolic flexibility of bacteria will allow them to survive regardless of what humans do to mess up the planet, and how being stabbed by his brother led to his career in microbiology.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Nick O’Lodeon, an organic dairy farmer in Groton Connecticut who comes down with a mysterious illness that sends him to the emergency room.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Brian Hammer, Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Daniel Montelongo Jaregui (UTSA)
  • Eliza Parker (UTSA)
  • Madison Harrison (UTSA)

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