78- Biomes

Time for a common ecological term to get the treatment it deserves. Today, we're exploring the biome. Not only that, but the term ecoregion is getting thrown in as an extra…

Sources for this episode:

  • Clennett, C., Locke, J. and Jackson, T. (editorial consultants) (2023), How Biology Works. LonondM Darling Kindersley Ltd.
  • Hine, R. S. (2019), Oxford Dictionary of Biology (8th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Rundel, P. W., Arroyo, M. T. K., Cowling, R. M., Keeley, J. E., Lamont, B. B. and Vargas, P. (2016), Mediterranean Biomes: Evolution of Their Vegetation, Floras, and Climate. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 47: 383-407.
  • Whittaker, R. J. and Fernández-Palacios, J. M. (2007), Island Biogeography: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

76- Mithridatism

Today's episode is going to feature one of the later monarchs from the Hellenistic era- Mithridates VI of Pontus. This is because his practice of trying to make himself immune to poison- called mithridatism- is biologically relevant and and continues to be influential until the 18th century.

Sources for this episode:

  • Jarcho, S. (1972), Medical Numismatic Notes, VII: Mithridates IV. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 48(8): 1059-1064.
  • Kaberopoulos, D., Karamanou, M. and Androutsos, G. (2012), The art of medicine: The theriac in antiquity. The Lancet 379: 1942-1943.
  • Karamanou, M., Androutsos, G., Hayes, A. W. and Tsatsakis, A. (2018), Toxicology in the Borgias period: The mystery of Cantarella poison. Toxicology Research and Application 2: 1-3.
  • Valle, G., Stanislao, M., Facciorusso, A., Carmignani, M. and Volpe, A. R. (2010), Mithridates VI Eupator, father of the empirical toxicology. Clinical Toxicology 47(5): 433.
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  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Demetrius I Soter (online) (Accessed 28/07/2023).
  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Laodice IV (online) (Accessed 28/07/2023).
  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Laodice VI (online) (Accessed 28/07/2023).
  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Mithridates VI Eupator (online) (Accessed 29/07/2023).
  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Seleucus II Callinicus (online) (Accessed 28/07/2023).

75- The Plague of Justinian

The Black Death in the 14th century is engrained in the popular consciousness. But how familiar is the first wave of the disease that happened in the 500s? In this episode, we explore what plague is, its evolution, strains and impact on the world of the 6th century according to Procopius.

Sources for this episode:

  • Achtman, M., Zurth, K., Morelli, G., Torrea, G., Guiyoule, A. and Carniel, E. (1999), Yersinia pestis, the cause of plague, is a recently emerged clone of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 96(24): 14043-14048.
  • Dai, R., He, J., Zha, X., Wang, Y., Zhang, X., Gao, H., Yang, X., Li, J., Xin, Y., Wang, Y., Li, S., Jin, J., Zhang, Q., Bai, J., Peng, Y., Wu, H., Zhang, Q., Wei, B., Xu, J. and Li, W. (2021), A novel mechanism of streptomycin resistance in Yersinia pestis: Mutation in the rpsL gene. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 15(4): e0009324.
  • Dewing, H. B. (1960), Procopius in Seven Volumes. Volume VI: The Anecdota or Secret History. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press and William Heinemann Ltd.
  • Dewing, H. B. (1961), Procopius in Seven Volumes. Volume II: History of the Wars: Books III and IV. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press and William Heinemann Ltd.
  • Dull, R. A., Southon, J. R., Kutterolf, S., Anchukaitis, K. J., Freundt, A., Wahl, D. B., Sheets, P., Amaroli, P., Hernandez, W., Wiemann, M. C. and Oppenheimer, C. (2019), Radiocarbon and geologic evidence reveal Ilopango volcano as source of the colossal ‘mystery’ eruption of 539/40 CE. Quaternary Science Reviews 222: 105855.
  • Dykhuizen, D. E. (2000), Yersinia pestis: An instant species? Trends in Microbiology 8(7): 296-298.
  • Ke, Y., Chen, Z. and Yang, R. (2019), Yersinia pestis: mechanisms of entry into and resistance to the host cell. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 3(106): 1-9.
  • Kousoulis, A. A., Karamanou, M., Tsoucalas, G., Dimitriou, T. and Androutsos, G. (2012), Alexandre Yersin’s Explorations (1892-1894) in French Indochina before the Discovery of the Plague Bacillus. Acto Medico-Historica Adriatica 10(2): 303-310.
  • Mikaty, G., Coullon, H., Fiette, L., Pizarro-Cerdá and Carniel, E. (2021), The invasive pathogen Yersinia pestis disrupts host blood vasculature to spread and provoke hemorrhages. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 15(10): e0009832.
  • Mordechai, L., Eisenberg, M., Newfield, T. P., Izdebski, A., Kay, J. E. and Poinar, H. (2019), The Justinianic Plague: An Inconsequential Pandemic? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(51): 25546-25554.
  • Moseley, J. E. (1981), Travels of Alexandre Yersin: Letters of a Pastorian in Indochina, 1890-1894. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 24(4): 607-618.
  • Norwich, J. J. (2013), A Short History of Byzantium. London: The Penguin Group.
  • Procopius (1985), The Secret History (translated by Williamson, G. A.). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd.
  • Rogers, K., Encyclopedia Britannica (2023), Yersinia pestis (online) (Accessed c.01/03/2024).
  • Rosen, W. (2008), Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire & the Birth of Europe. London: Pimlico.
  • Sarris, P. (2023), Justinian: Emperor, Soldier, Saint. London: Basic Books UK.
  • Author unknown, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (date unknown), Protect yourself from plague.
  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Plague of Justinian (online) (Accessed 01/03/2024).

73- Islamic Golden Age Evolutionary Theory Part II

You asked, I delivered! In a sequel to our discussion in episode 58, we're going to shine a spotlight on two more thinkers during the Islamic Golden Age. Along the way we'll also see connections with later thinkers and a cameo from episode 69…

Sources for this episode:

  • Guerber, H. A. (1929), The Myths of Greece & Rome: Their Stories Signification and Origin. London: George G. Harrap & Company Ltd.
  • Kaack, L. H. and Katul, G. G. (2013), Fifty years to prove Malthus right. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110(11): 4161-4162.
  • Malik, A. H., Ziermann, J. M. and Diogo, R. (2018), An untold story in biology: the historical continuity of evolutionary ideas of Muslim scholars from the 8th century to Darwin’s time. Journal of Biological Education 52(1): 3-17.
  • Waterman, A. M. C. (1987), On the Malthusian Theory of Long Swings. The Canadian Journal of Economics 20(2): 257-270.
  • Author unknown (1888), The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments: Translated out of the original tongues: and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, by His Majesty’s special command. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), al-Biruni (online) (Accessed 11/01/2024).

Darwin Day 2024- Voyage of the Beagle Part I

Darwin Day is upon us for the fifth time! To celebrate, let's follow Charles Darwin on the first part of his famous voyage between late 1831 and early 1832. We'll see him pour over cuttlefish, travel with veterans of the Napoleonic Wars and arrive in a young Brazilian Empire…

Sources for this episode:

  • Bannerman, W. M., Lobban, R. A. and Shaw, C. S., Encyclopedia Britannica (2023), History of Cabo Verde (online) (Accessed 08/02/2024).
  • Bethell, L. (1968), The Independence of Brazil and the Abolition of the Brazilian Slave Trade: Anglo-Brazilian Relations, 1822-1826. Journal of Latin American Studies 1(2): 115-147.
  • Bieber, J. (2010), Imperial Brazil (1822-29). In: Holloway, T. H. (2010), A Companion to Latin American History. Chichester: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  • Bunker, F. St. P., Brodie, J. A., Maggs, C. A. and Bunker, A. R. (2017), Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland (2nd edition). Plymouth: Wild Natural Press.
  • Darwin, C. (1945), The Voyage of the Beagle. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.
  • Diamond, J. (2007), Easter Island Revisited. Science 317(5845): 1692-1694.
  • Jezierski, M. T., Smith, W. J. and Clegg, S. M. (2023), The island syndrome in birds. Journal of Biogeography 00: 1-16.
  • Litchfield, H. (ed.) (1915), Emma Darwin: A Century of Family Letters (Vol. II). New York: D. Appleton and Company.
  • Martin, P. A. (1921), Causes of the Collapse of the Brazilian Empire. The Hispanic American Historical Review 4(1): 4-48.
  • Whittaker, R. J. and Fernández-Palacios, J.-M. (2007), Island Biogeography: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Robert FitzRoy (online) (Accessed 08/02/2024).
  • Author unknown, Wikipedia (date unknown), Salvador, Bahia (online) (Accessed 08/02/2024).

72- Alien Species and the Aldrovandi Cache

A series of 5000 flowers pressed in the 16th century near Bologna have given scientists an opportunity to see human impacts and the rise of alien species. All while giving us an excuse to touch on what the Columbian exchange actually is…

Sources for this episode:

  • Anteric, I., Basic, Z., Vilovic, K., Kolic, K. and Andjelinovic, S. (2014), Which Theory for the Origin of Syphilis is True? Journal of Sexual Medicine 11: 3112-3118.
  • Buldrini, F., Alessandrini, A., Mossetti, U., Muzzi, E., Pezzi, G., Soldano, A. and Nascimbene, J. (2023), Botanical memory: five centuries of floristic changes revealed by a Renaissance herbarium (Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1551-1586). Royal Society Open Science 10(11): 230866.
  • Guerra, F. (1993), The European-American Exchange. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 15: 313-327.
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  • Harper, K. N., Zuckerman, M. K., Harper, M. L., Kingston, J. D. and Armelagos, G. J. (2011), The Origin and Antiquity of Syphilis Revisited: An Appraisal of Old World Pre-Columbian Evidence for Treponemal Infection. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 54: 99-133.
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  • McCook, S. (2011), The neo-Columbian exchange: the second conquest of the Greater Caribbean, 1720-1930. Latin American Research Review: 46(S1): 11-31.
  • Milliken, W., Walker, B. E., Howes, M.-J. R., Forest, F. and Lughadha, E. N. (2021), Plants used traditionally as antimalarials in Latin America: Mining the tree of life for potential new medicines. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 279: 114221.
  • Sanz-Biset, J., Campos-de-la-Cruz, J., Epiquién-Rivera, M. A. and Cañigueral, S. (2009), A first survey on the medicinal plants of the Chazuta valley (Peruvian Amazon). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 122: 333-362.
  • Stefanaki, A., Walter, T. and van Andel, T. (2022), Tracing the introduction history of the tulip that went wild (Tulipa sylvestris) in sixteenth-century Europe. Nature Scientific Reports 12: 9786.
  • Weston, P., the Guardian (2023), ‘Inestimable importance’: 500-year-old cache of pressed flowers reveals new secrets (online) (Accessed 17/11/2023).

71- Galactic Cycles in Evolutionary History

It takes our sun 220 million years to orbit around the middle of our home galaxy. But that kind of timescale can be difficult to picture. So, using the International Stratigraphy Chart as a guidance for what different time periods mean in terms of millions of years, let's zoom out to the scale of a galactic year and see what happened in Earth's prehistory one cycle ago, two and so on.

Sources for this episode:

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  • Bottjer, E. J. (2005), The Early Evolution of Animals. Scientific American 293(2): 42-47.
  • Brusatte, S. L., Butler, R. J., Barrett, P. M., Carrion, M. T., Evans, D. C., Lloyd, G. T., Mannion, P. D., Norell, M. A., Peppe, D. J., Upchurch, P. and Williamson, T. E. (2015), The extinction of the dinosaurs. Biological Reviews 90: 628-642.
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  • Clack, J. A. (2006), Devonian climate change, breathing, and the origin of the tetrapod stem group. Integrative and Comparative Biology 47(4): 510-523.
  • Cohen, K. M., Finney, S. C., Gibbard, P. L. and Fan, J.-X. (2013; updated). The ICS International Chronostratigraphic Chart. Episodes 36: 199-204.
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70- The Microbiome and Microbiota

Most people will have come across this term before, but what does it actually mean? Today, we'll be dissecting the terms microbiome and microbiota and looking at what can impact them.

Sources for this episode:

  • Amon, P. and Sanderson, I. (2017), What is the microbiome? Archives of Disease in Childhood- Education and Practice 102-258-261.
  • Cremon, C., Barbaro, M. R., Ventura, M. and Barbara, G. (2018), Pre- and probiotic overview. Current Opinion in Pharmacology 43: 87-92.
  • Kim, H., Sitarik, A. R., Woodcroft, K., Johnson, C. C. and Woratti, E. (2019), Birth Mode, Breastfeeding, Pet Exposure and Antibiotic Use: Associations With the Gut Microbiome and Sensitization in Children. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports 19: 22.
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