by Bob Murray
A program on the English language stimulated my looking at my copy of Johnson’s Dictionary and by accident reading part of the Preface. A paragraph seemed singularly appropriate to the bloggery we had on "species" and the need to classify the ones that are identified. When that is done, as in Bergey’s Manual, one makes a sort of dictionary defining names and the person who does it is a lexicographer (called a "dull drudge" by Johnson!). So here it is:
When I took the first survey of my undertaking, I found our speech copious without order, and energetick without rules; wherever I turned my view, there was complexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated; choice was to be made out of boundless variety, without any established principle of selection; adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity; and modes of expression to be rejected or received, without the suffrages of any writers of classical reputation or acknowledged authority.
Well, that seems to say everything about the problem of dealing with either words or bacteria and leaves usage to be considered in the doing. I think it is a very appropriate association of efforts a few centuries apart.
And a comment…
My Talmudic Question did not stimulate any real response. No doubt a different wording was needed. However, I note that the Molecular control of bacterial death and lysis gets detailed treatment from Rice and Bayles in the March 2008 issue of Microb. Molec. Biol. Revs. They include cell death in the maintenance of biofilms; analogy of at least one gene pair in bacteria to another pair for apoptosis in eukaryotes; altruistic cell suicide; fratricide in pneumococci; a quorum-sensing control of a sub-population of bacteria; and the recognition by lysis of non-competent cells providing DNA for transformation. So added to my comments there is a lot to think about in terms of differentiation within a clone beyond lytic disasters.
A frequent commentator to this blog, Prof. Murray has as much experience with prokaryotic systematics and cell biology as anyone we know.