susceptibility of ultra-bacteria to heat?

Joan Marie Shields jshields at rigel.oac.uci.edu
Tue Jul 13 10:46:24 EST 1999

Timothy Paustian <paustian at bact.wisc.edu> wrote
>> From what I have read the main objection to microbes this size is that
>> with our current understanding of cellular processes, they are too small
>> to contain the structures that they need, ribosomes, chromosome, etc.
>> Now that doesn't mean they couldn't be doing things in a way we don't
>> yet understand. My mind is open, but wary.

David Lloyd-Jones <icomm5 at netcom.ca> wrote:
>Stay with that wariness, babe, it'll save your ass.

This is always good advise, no matter what the field :).


>Now all of these micro-critters may exist. Or at least a new schema of
>classification, whereby old arbitrary divisions of scale are reconsidered,
>may come into existence.

I was at the last ASM General Meeting (Chicago, May-June, 1999).  There 
was a symposium about ultramicrobacteria which included a talk about the 
basic size requirements etc - all based on present knowledge and 
understanding of bacteria and what is required to preform certain basic
tasks etc.  Much of it boiled down to a great deal of skepetism that these
organisms exist.  In the audiance was a woman who is a member of a lab
working on these, in blood.  I admired her standing up to the prevailing
attitude of ridicule.  There's a lot we don't know and the assumptions we
make regarding microorganisms have had a tendancy (if you look at the 
history) of falling apart.  There is some evidence that these bugs exist,
maybe not enough to absolutely prove it but enough to warrent a closer

>Meself, I'm wary too. My bet is on big fat bacteria, cunning little
>mechanical viruses, (and, soon to come, an elucidation of the cunning
>mechanical operation of enzymes), microscopes being all full of eye-lashes
>and white blood cells of the vitreous humour, and on prions: six will get
>you five either way.

As for prions - I'm not all that well versed in them though I know a
little and I do know that we have known about prion diseases for quite
some time.  My grandfather died of primary amilidosis (spelling could be
off here) back in the late fifties.

>I'm not a microbiologist, nor do I play one on TV.

I'm an environmental microbiogist (that's what they tell me anyway) though
I work with eukaryotes.

Joan Shields       jshields at uci.edu       http://www.ags.uci.edu/~jshields
University of California - Irvine         School of Social Ecology
Department of Environmental Analysis and Design
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