Monday, May 09, 2005

Bacteria Sex from my perspective

Email sent to a friend of mine ( on October 22, 2003.

Dear Sir,
My review paper is on why bacteria prefer to have sex with EACH OTHER rather than themselves. The age-old ‘sex with others sure beats masturbation’ theory at its most primitive level. Seriously. I think it'll take about a year to finally come out in a journal. This is part of the first paragraph (an advertisement that is sure to suck you right in gasping and begging for more):

The bacterial genus Enterococcus includes organisms with highly evolved systems for horizontal genetic transfer by conjugation (13, 16, 58). This prolific exchange of genetic information contributes significantly to the medical problems associated with these organisms as opportunistic pathogens, since antibiotic resistance and virulence determinants can be exchanged readily among the enterococci and other organisms. Recent sequencing of a virulent strain of Enterococcus faecalis revealed that over one-fourth of the genome is composed of mobile elements (48), and it has been found that clinical isolates can harbor three to five co-resident plasmids (21, 55).

The references go to very interesting articles published in The Onion about colon cleansers, penis attachments for your macintosh computer, and Bush’s obsession with gummy bears. So you can see, it only gets better from here.

I can’t remember if I told you, but I took a class last year where they tied me up and forced me to learn some PERL. It was extremely traumatic and I came to the eventual conclusion that coding is a lot like playing chess. If you can deal with it, you can have a lot of fun with it. If you can’t deal with it, you’re really going to lose and probably end up killing somebody on your way down.

I suggest you begin at least three more projects. My motto is, if you haven’t yet crashed your computer then you’re not working hard enough. I crashed my computer on every homework assignment for that terrifying PERL class I took.

One of my reviewer’s comments is this:

The use of ‘clearly’ is too often a giveaway that an author suspects the point is not clear at all. This seems to be an example where the point would be perfectly clear without this adjective.

I personally think that the comment is clearly not clear enough. The sentence the reviewer is referring to is this one (in the conclusion of my review paper, I think the reviewer was really grasping for straws here): The pheromone plasmids are clearly a fascinating example of a highly evolved peptide-based system for cell-cell communication.

I decided to remove the word clearly.

I’m really cruising through these revisions.

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