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Chapter 55 : Pioneers of American Microbiology
Theobald Smith speculated that some organisms that did not originally cause disease had “fighting characters,” such as the capacity to produce toxins, which enabled them to become pathogens. However, "the degree of change that can be impressed upon any bacteria probably depends largely on the specific structure of the organism." Moreover, "processes of conjugation and other sexual phenomena, such as are found among protozoa, are unknown." Little progress in understanding these matters is apparent from the agenda for the Society of American Bacteriologists (SAB's) 25th meeting in 1923, held in New Haven. Though the gathering again took place from 27 to 29 December, there were 84 talks ranging widely over scientific topics, such as thermophiles, the Twort-d'Herelle phenomenon (bacteriophages), and the migration of bacteria in an electric field, but also embraced professional challenges. Roger Stanier contrasted contemporary knowledge of fermentation, its stepwise metabolism, and the coupling of released energy to anabolic reactions with the understanding of microbial oxidative metabolism.