Live Coverage: Relationship to Reality
This morning, Robert A. Bender, PhD, from the University of Michigan, presented the ASM Division K Lecture 2010, "A Contrarian View of Metabolism." In a lively presentation, Dr. Bender had the audience engaged and chuckling as he challenged what he called, "molecular myths, physiological fallacies and biochemical baloney."
"If you want a new question, read an old book," Dr. Bender said. He noted he has found many interesting studies and pieces of research throughout his long career in microbiology simply by listening to the great scientists around him, who sometimes didn't even publish their ideas, or by reading obscure medical journals, not found in PubMed.
Dr. Bender focused his talk on a simple microbial statement, "An aerobic steady-state culture of E. coli strain K12 grown in LB or M9-glucose minimal medium was rapidly harvested by centrifugation," which he then broke down, word by word, showing his audience how commonly held truths in microbiology can be challenged and adapted.
For starters, he noted, nothing is rapidly harvested by centrifugation. He then polled the audience to see if anyone knew why the commonly practiced step of flaming the tube was performed.
Despite theories on creating negative pressure or sterilizing the tube, Dr. Bender revealed the practice is held over from the days of using a cotton ball to seal the tube. Scientists would flame the tube to burn off any cotton fibers to prevent them from contaminating the sample.
As cotton is not a common stopper these days, the flaming practice is completely irrelevant, he noted.
From simple revelations like this one, to more complex discussion of oxygenation and mediums, Dr. Bender certainly turned some ideas on their head for Division K.