Chapter 58 : Science à la Mode?

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Plausible new concepts spread like memes through the international research community, just as ingenious innovations in methodology are taken up promptly by laboratories worldwide, but fashion per se is almost the antithesis of science. The idea of quorum sensing originated with verifiable facts concerning populations of certain bacteria in which intercellular signals reflect cell density. The fashionable belief in the widespread significance of quorum sensing is reflected in both textbooks and popular science books and articles. It might prove possible to combat opportunistic infections caused by , for example, by interfering with its synthesis of, or response to, N-acetyl-lhomoserine lactone (AHL). Two genes whose expression is mediated by this intercellular signaling metabolite are those encoding elastase production in and cellulase formation in the plant pathogen . N. W. “Bill” Pirie gave as one example Alfred Hershey's work on the movement of components of the T2 bacteriophage into . When Pirie found that only 1% of the protein is transferred, he reasoned that this quantity of material could not be regarded as negligible. The technique used to produce it was not intended to produce a complete balance sheet but simply to search for particular categories of substance.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. Science à la Mode?, p 275-278. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch58
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1. Manefield, M.,, and S. L. Turner. 2002. Quorum sensing in context: out of molecular biology and into microbial ecology. Microbiology 148: 3762 3764.
2. Pirie, N. W. 1960. Biological replication considered in the general context of scientific illusion. New Biol. 31: 117 135.

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