What are the BIG questions??

Douglas B. Kell dbk at aber.ac.uk
Mon Apr 3 03:50:00 EST 1995

In article <3lkv0l$kfa at mark.ucdavis.edu> ez044157 at dale.ucdavis.edu (Mark Fuller) writes:
>The way I see it, as a microbial ecologist, the biggest questions to be 
>asked in microbiology are pertaining to the ecology of microbes.  We have 
>only been able to isolate and grow an estimated 0.1-1% of ALL bacteria 
>thought to exists.  But beyond merely studying them in the lab, we need 
>to more about how these little critters survive in the environment....

>I'd say any area of general microbial ecology will lead you into the BIG 
>questions that need to be answered.
>Mark E. Fuller

I have often wondered how the folk who model global warming and so on deal
with this. How *do* they parametrise CO2 fluxes to and from e.g. the ocean
when, as Mark says, 99-99.9% of the bugs don't plate out? Anyone know?
I'd also include 'people' in the definition of the environment - we really 
seem to have very little good knowledge about e.g. factors that trigger
'reinfection' by bugs that didn't plate out but were still inside us after
a treatment with antibiotics. Mycobacteria (TB) are renowned for this, but 
I understand that most other bugs can probably do it too.

IMHO, the BIG question in (micro)biology generally is how the inside of the
cell is organised - too much of our thinking and modelling is still such
that the implicit view is the 'bag-of-enzymes', which it definitely aint.


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