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The Oswald T. Avery Collection

[Notes on the biological interpretation of Fred Griffith's finding] pdf (62,306 Bytes) transcript of pdf
[Notes on the biological interpretation of Fred Griffith's finding]
Number of Image Pages:
1 (62,306 Bytes)
Lederberg, Joshua
Periodical: Lederberg, Joshua. [Notes on the biological interpretation of Fred Griffith's finding]. American Scientist 44, 3 (1956): 268-269. Notes. 1 Image.
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
Reproduced with permission of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Transformation, Genetic
Exhibit Categories:
Shifting Focus: Early Work on Bacterial Transformation, 1928-1940
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Metadata Record Genetic Transduction (July 1956) (in The Joshua Lederberg Papers) pdf (1,846,664 Bytes) ocr (50,667 Bytes)
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 4
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Series: Commentary on Avery and His Work, 1944-2005
SubSeries: Inquiries on Avery
Folder: 50th Anniversary of the 1944 Article, 1993-1995
slides--my talk 2/94
These spectacular discoveries in biochemistry ran far ahead of the genetic study of the pneumococcus transformation, which relied on the capsule as a sole genetic marker. Until this study was broadened about 1951 with experiments on drug resistance and other markers (8, 9), a variety of opinions were forwarded (mostly on a purely speculative level) on the biological interpretation of Griffith's finding. They included the following versions of the transforming substance:
1. It was a specific mutagen with a special ability to direct a particular gene to mutate in a definite direction.
2. It was a polysaccharide autocatalyst (perhaps as a complex with DNA) that primed an enzymatic reaction for polysaccharide synthesis.
3. It was a bacterial virus, which on infecting the bacteria provoked capsular synthesis as a host reaction.
4. It was an autonomous cytoplasmic gene or a morphogenetic inducer.
5. It might be acting at a distance without penetrating the bacterium.
6. It was a fragment of the genetic make-up of the bacterium, the only one to have been tested to that time.
7. It was an element sui generis for which no general conception should be adduced.
Lederberg 1956.
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