SAGE KE Bulletin Board
Bacterial Aging Study: The Pioneering Works
31 March 2005
Shi V. Liu
Recently, scientific spotlight has been focused on the immortality issue of bacteria as a result of the highly publicized PLoS Biology paper by Stewart et al. (26). Scientific community apparently has been deceived by the statement made by Stewart et al. that "Previous studies...do not address aging in terms of parent and offspring" and "...individual cells growing under the microscope have been followed in the past for a small number of divisions". This statement made their study appear as a pioneering work and thus their observation as a novel discovery. However, as a true pioneer who has worked in this field lonely for many difficult years (11), I must say that earlier studies have concluded that bacteria may age and die, just like human or other macroorganisms do (18, 23, 24).
For years, I have tried to convince mainstream microbiologists that the perception of bacterial immortality was an illusion due to some fundamental logical fallacies and methodological mistakes in microbiology (8, 22). I have proposed a new bacterial life model which complies with all basic life principles (18) and allows prokaryotic aging study to break through "cell cycle" limitation (12). This new theory of bacterial/cell life has also shed lights into better understanding of controversies in microbiology and cell biology such as the nature of viable-but-non-culturable (VBNC) microorganisms (14, 20, 21), alternative visions for single-cell microbiology (17), and how to achieve age-synchronization in cell cultures (1, 4). I also invented and patented a method and apparatus for producing age-synchronized cells (9) which will provide the needed means for better studying aging in cells (including prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells).
From the above facts, it is clear that pioneering studies on bacterial aging had already been made long before this current "hot" paper. Real ground-breaking discoveries were in fact made readily available to general public through a new kind of scientific journal called Logical Biology (http://logibio.com) (10), whose debut in 2000 was announced in Nature (5) and ASM News (14). Thus, it is wrong to continue ignoring these earlier work (2) and even allow some credit-robbery to take place (25) and to be glorified (3).
Compared with my earlier studies, Stewart et al.'s paper is at most a flawed repetition (15). In fact, this study really represents a backward movement because it is still largely attached to the old dogma which is deadly wrong. In contrast, my theory on bacterial/cell life will not only lead into a deep and fundamental understanding of biotic aging (16, 19) but also usher in a true unification of biology (6). An deep insight was even proposed to link DNA aging with cell aging and combine genetics with epigenetics (7).
I wish, by disclosing the above information to the public, aging research community will have a comprehensive view on all aspects of aging studies, not just the mainstream views published in the traditional "top" journals but also the "odd" views published in other places. I also wish that all people interested in this research area should be allowed to freely express their opinions (13). I have personally invited Stewart to debate my criticisms over their paper but so far I have not seen any response.
Shi V. Liu
1. Liu, S. V. 2004. Age synchronization: Retrospectives and perspectives. Logical Biology 4:88-101.
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