Thursday, August 29, 2013

Richard Lenski's Classic Papers: Luria and Delbrück, 1943

Richard Lenski has joined a number of other biologists and blogged about classic "must-read" papers. His first example is Luria and Delbrück (1943)—the Fluctuation Test. It's an excellent description and there's a personal touch.

John Dennehy [The Fluctuation Test and Jonathan Eisen [Luria and Delbrück] also picked the same paper. That means it must really be a "must-read"! (I agree.)

Given that the early history of molecular biology is no longer being taught, I imagine that there are quite a few of you who have never heard of Max Delbrück (1906-1981) or Salvador Luria (1912-1991) in spite of the fact they are Nobel prize winners. Here's some of my posts on them ....

The Velvet Underground of Molecular Biology
Nobel Laureates Max Delbrück, Alfred D. Hershey, Salvador E. Luria


19 comments :

  1. I had dinner at Delbrück's house once (along with a bunch of other undergraduates). I wish I could say that I learned oodles of biology, but the only thing that sticks in my mind now is that he had a huge collection of recorders (the musical instrument) and that he let my try out a really big (bass?) one. It sounded good.

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  2. I hope someone also references: Lederberg, J and Lederberg, EM (1952) Replica plating and indirect selection of bacterial mutants. J Bacteriol. 63: 399–406. That was a more direct demonstration of spontaneous, pre-occurring mutations in a population.

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  3. Yeah, this is another sh..t about what one scientists believes over what Larry decides to be the truth... Larry's playing a bit of an atheistic god and enjoining every "byt" of it. And, why not?

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  4. This is something: Why do atheists pray? I have come across a survey that revealed that over 30% of atheists pray. Who or what do they pray to?

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    1. We pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that no bozos will try to hijack a thread by off-topic posting.

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    2. I had no doubt about you praying. You haven't answered yet why you pray to the Flying Spaghetti. That would be an interesting thread.

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    3. This is something: why does Quest never discuss science in threads devoted to the discussion of science?

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    4. If it is really science, I get involved sometimes; if I see a point. If it is so-called science based on faith and not on evidence, why bother? You may as well talk religion, since there is no difference between the two.

      Unfortunately, my writing here is pointless as you, and the rest of believers here, will fail to get the point... col:(

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    5. Quest now portrays himself as a scientific expert who has encyclopedic knowledge of science, knowledge so vast that he can state with certainty that there is no evidence for certain theories- a knowledge he has NEVER displayed in ANY of his comments.

      Quest: "If it is so-called science based on faith and not on evidence, why bother?"

      If you know there is NO evidence for theory X, you are claiming encyclopedic knowledge of that field. (We note in passing his deployment of tu quoque, as our religiously motivated friend, who has never presented evidence for his wholly religious hypothesis, casually accuses US of being motivated by faith.)

      So, Quest, since you know so much about science, please explain the Luria-Delbruck experiment in your own words. That is the topic of this thread: the Luria-Delbruck experiment. Since you insinuate it is "faith-based" and backed by NO evidence, you must prove you know something about it. Describe in your own words the experimental method and hypothesis being tested.

      If you can't do that, you're a fraud.

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    6. Come on, Diogenes. He's just a trolling little git desperately trying to get some attention.

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    7. Sadly, my prayers are never answered. Now why could that be?

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    8. Harshman, your prayers were answered! It is just that the answer is No. Don't listen to the nonbelievers who claim that there was no answer because FSM does not exist.

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  5. Step 1> Except for Piotr, I assume none of you had lived under a regime? Right? I also assume that Piotr may have belonged to a privileged class or had connection... That's how things worked there to be able to leave the country. Piotr: Am I way off? If I am, I apologize.

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    1. Where exactly do you think that Piotr lives ?

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    2. Quest, unlike you I am not hiding behind a pseudonym. Anyone is free to dig out everything about me. I have no skeletons in the closet, and (in case you can't find it out for yourself) I have lived and worked in Poland all my life. Anyway, you have not the slightest idea what "life under a regime" was like here. I see the trolling little git is a flaming dastardly little git as well, but don't count on me to nibble at your bait. Get lost.

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  6. If something as simple as fluctuation test was an intellectual leap at the time, it only means that biology was an intellectual desert of sorts. Although, to be fair, the biggest part might have been asking the question to begin with - and that part is very difficult to access some 50+ years later. But the answer is very plain vanilla. Crick-Brenner experiment is much more impressive.

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  7. The work of Luria, Delbrück, the Lederbergs, and others of their generation revolutionized microbiology by showing that bacteria did have genetics that could be investigated. Another revolution occurred in the late 1970s when Carl Woese and his students (Mitch Sogin, Norm Pace et al.) showed that one could use molecular sequences to infer phylogenies of bacteria and archaea (and that archaea were different from bacteria). I recall just before that, when microbiologists classified bacteria by what would stain them, or what chemical reactions they would carry out, but never even discussed what their genealogy might be. Microbiologists before the Luria-Delbrück era was in a similar muddle on the issue of genetics. It seems ludicrous to us now that anyone would not think they had genetics, which goes to show how hard it is to understand their mindset.

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