'Immortal'; Request For Synonym

Tue Apr 25 11:07:14 EST 1995

 Recently Don Ashley wrote:

> * This is a request for a more 'scientific' term for perpetual cell 
> * division.  The term 'immortal' is offensive to some scientists and 
> * religious fundamentalists.  

     I have discussed the use of the terms immortal and senescence for 
     scientific reasons only. Whatever religious fundamentalists may have
     to say about it is irrelevant here, in my opinion. It is offensive to 
     several scientists (the reaction by Horst shows it) to read, or 
     participate in, a discussion where other than scientific arguments 
     are involved. I think they are right.
     I take this opportunity also to react to the question about ethylene. This 
     compound is a plant hormone that triggers a lot of reactions, depending on
     the tissue and its stage of development. One example is the hastening of 
     senescence. The hormone results in hastening of the de novo synthesis
     of a range of proteins involved in senescence. Whether the hormone is 
     an oxidant or not is not the question, but a good question is whether the 
     (hastening of) senescence is related to increased oxidant action. In an
     ethylene system of senescence, such as carnation flowers, antioxidants
     clearly delay senescence. This is all we can say, and the data can as yet 
     not be taken as evidence for the direct involvement of oxidants in 
     carnation senescence as the antioxidants could also interfere with 
     the ethylene system (perception; signal transduction; and the autocatalytic
     ethylene synthesis induced by ethylene).
     Wouter van Doorn
     ATO-DLO, Wageningen, Holland

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