Correspondence | Published:

Dishing a modern myth about microbes

Naturevolume 444page31 (2006) | Download Citation

Subjects

Sir

We are indebted to Lynn J. Rothschild for debunking, in Journal Club, some microbial myths (Nature 443, 249; 2006 doi:10.1038/443248a). Her prime concern is that many microbiologists have simply given up trying to culture many of the more recalcitrant microbes living in the natural environment, in favour of resorting to DNA-sequencing methods.

There is a lingering and widespread presumption that DNA-sequence information will make a huge difference to our knowledge of microbes in the natural world, but we, like Rothschild, beg to differ. She argues for a greater effort to learn how to culture the 'unculturable' microbes. We would go further, and suggest that, having done so, we should devote greater effort to describing species by their phenotypic properties. Characterization of the phenotype, rather than the genetic sequence, is the key to gaining deeper and better understanding of microbial diversity in the natural world.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, Helsingør, DK-3000, Denmark

    • Tom Fenchel
  2. CEH-Dorset, Winfrith Technology Centre, Dorchester, DT2 8ZD, Dorset, UK

    • Genoveva F. Esteban
    •  & Bland J. Finlay

Authors

  1. Search for Tom Fenchel in:

  2. Search for Genoveva F. Esteban in:

  3. Search for Bland J. Finlay in:

About this article

Publication history

Published

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/444031a

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing