Watson here told of his studies with Tobacco Mosaic Virus as well as related plant viruses such as potato virus and Turnip
Yellow Mosaic (TYM) virus, both mentioned in the letter.
Watson also mentioned a visit to the California Institute of Technology by Erwin Chargaff, the Columbia University biochemist
who had discovered the even ratios of the pyrine and the pyrimidine bases in DNA, and who had taken a dim view of Watson and
Crick as well as of their helical theories when he met them in Cambridge in July of 1952.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (379,371 Bytes)
1955-05-27 (May 27, 1955)
Watson, James D.
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
A brief note. I have finished writing a MS with Don Caspar on TMV. The typist now has it and when its finished I shall send
you a copy. The point of this letter is to inquire about Potato Virus X. Have you inquired about the possibility of getting
some grown for us. Either Markham or Bauder [?] are possibilities. If we obtained the infected leaves, this would be sufficient.
In fact its best if we isolate the virus as it tends to aggregate in a merry fashion. The people at Berkeley have learned
that isolation in distilled water is the best procedure for keeping it non aggregated. We should need at least 1 gram, probably
2 or 3. This should require about 50 infected plants. I think Roy should be cooperative, certainly its best if we do not have
to travel to Bauder's [?] lab. Let us say we need the leaves by Sept. 1, so we could start to work after the August Holidays.
I now have definite plans for doing the O18 analysis at Brookhaven. It proved impractical to get it done here since isolation
from PO4 is very tricky indeed. Arthur Kornberg will be one of the participants so we shall have a very first rate biochemist
on the problem as well as Dan Koshland, the O18 expert. The results in any case will be interesting since even a disproof
of chemical bonds to the protein via a [diagram] or of the P-O-P idea will be very useful in building the
[END PAGE ONE]
[BEGIN PAGE TWO]
Chargaff was here earlier in the week. I don't believe he likes me (or you for that matter) He has a new rule (the same
Nature story) -- 6 keto equals 6 amino but it doesn't hold for TYM Virus so I wonder if it will prove useful. His seminar
was slightly ludicrous -- a long introduction on scientific method and the harm that premature hypotheses can do.
I am leaving here, a week from today. After June 20th, I can be reached at Biological Laboratories Harvard. Still hope to
be in England by early July. Should like to have O18 result with me. Caltech models are on their way -- Tell John that I have
talked to Corey about the matter