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 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 ( (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
Eagle Institute of Molecular Medicine
Research Triangle Park, NC, USA


1. Liu, S. V. 2004. Age synchronization: Retrospectives and perspectives. Logical Biology 4:88-101.
2. Liu, S. V. 2005. Another common and detrimental misconduct in scientific research. Logical Biology 5:70-72.
3. Liu, S. V. 2005. Barking at the wrong tree. Logical Biology 5:73-75.
4. Liu, S. V. 2005. Debating cell-synchronization methodologies: further points and alternative answers. Trends Biotechnol 23:9-10.
5. Liu, S. V. 2000. Debating controversies can enhance creativity. Nature 403:592.
6. Liu, S. V. 2005. A high time to unify biology under common life principles. Logical Biology 5:66-69.
7. Liu, S. V. 2005. Linking DNA aging with cell aging and combining genetics with epigenetics. Logical Biology 5:51-55.
8. Liu, S. V. 2000. Logical fallacies and methodological mistakes in microbiology - An overview. Logical Biology 1:25-31.
9. Liu, S. V. 2004. Method and apparatus for producing age-synchronized cells. US patent US6767734B.
10. Liu, S. V. 2000. New bacterial life model carried by an electronic eastern wind. Logical Biology 1:1.
11. Liu, S. V. 2005. PhD: Using philosophy and logic in scientific research. Logical Biology 5:33-37.
12. Liu, S. V. 2004. Prokaryotic aging: Breaking through the "cell cycle" limitation. Logical Biology 4:1-6.
13. Liu, S. V. 2005. A public invitation to join open discussion and debate on bacterial/cell aging study. Logical Biology 5:48-50.
14. Liu, S. V. 2000. Revisiting the concept of microbial resuscitation. ASM News 66:123.
15. Liu, S. V. 2005. Right direction but backward movement: A new finding or a flawed repetition in bacterial aging study? Logical Biology 5:38-47.
16. Liu, S. V. 2005. Searching for the deep root and fundamental mechanism of biotic aging. Logical Biology 5:89-91.
17. Liu, S. V. 2005. Single-cell microbiology needs visions. ASM News In press.
18. Liu, S. V. 1999. Tracking bacterial growth in liquid media and a new bacterial life model. Science in China 42:644-654.
19. Liu, S. V. 2005. Understanding the limit of the Hayflick limit. Logical Biology 5:58-65.
20. Liu, S. V. 1999. The validation of microbial "resuscitation". ASM News 65:185.
21. Liu, S. V. 2000. Viable but non-culturable (VBNC) microorganisms: A misnomer or a whistle-blower? Logical Biology 1:17-20.
22. Liu, S. V. 2000. What is bacterial life? Logical Biology 1:5-16.
23. Liu, S. V., and J. J. Zhang. 2004. Age synchronization of Caulobacter crescentus and implications for prokaryotic aging study. Logical Biology 4:7-15.
24. Liu, S. V., and J. J. Zhang. 2004. Crossband in Caulobacter’s stalk is a cell reproduction remnant and bacterial age indicator. Logical Biology 4:16-27.
25. Liu.S.V. 2005. A public robbery of science in the public library of science. Logical Biology 5:76-78.
26. Stewart, E. J., R. Madden, G. Paul, and F. Taddei. 2005. Aging and death in an organism that reproduces by morphologically symmetric division. PLoS Biol 3:295-300.

Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150