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Gene recombination in Escherichia coli - LEDERBERG, J. & TATUM, E. L - 1946. 
Macmillan, London 1946 - First edition, in the original printed wrappers, of this seminal paper which helped to launch the field of molecular biology and laid the foundation for today?s biotechnology industry and the genetic approach to medicine. It also had far-reaching implications for understanding how bacteria evolve, and, for example, acquire antibiotic resistance. ?Joshua Lederberg (1925-2008) was a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist whose pioneering work on genetic recombination in bacteria helped propel the field of molecular genetics into the forefront of biological and medical research. During the first four decades of the 20th century the study of heredity focused largely on the problem of transmission of genetic elements from parent to offspring. The organisms most commonly studied were higher animals and plants, in particular the small fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the domesticated corn Zea mays. In the period just preceding and following World War II, however, geneticists? attention began to shift to investigation of the structure and function of genes themselves. Higher organisms being less suitable for such studies, geneticists turned to much simpler forms such as bacteria and viruses. As a pioneer in this new line of research, Joshua Lederberg?s studies on both bacteria and viruses paved the way for the modern-day understanding of the chemical and molecular bases of genetics? (Encyclopedia of World Biography). In 1958, at the age of 33, Lederberg received the Nobel Prize, shared with Edward L. Tatum and George W. Beadle, ?for his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria?.Before this paper was published, ?most scientists wondered if bacteria even had genes. Many thought bacteria to be a distinct form of life, separate from higher organisms like Drosophila and maize, which were known to follow Mendel?s principles of heredity. But when George Beadle and Edward Tatum showed in 1941 that Neurospora obeys Mendel?s laws, and 2 years later Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück reported that bacterial mutations arise at random, microorganisms began to shed their outsider status. Then, when Oswald Avery, Colin McLeod, and Maclyn McCarty identified DNA as the substance that stably converts one form of Pneumococcus bacteria to another, many scientists came to realize that bacteria have conventional genes.?One of those scientists was Joshua Lederberg, who in 1944 was studying for a doctor of medicine (MD) degree at Columbia College and working in the lab of Francis Ryan. Lederberg had read Avery?s paper and was excited by the prospect of probing the chemical nature of the gene. He wondered if DNA transformation could be investigated using the powerful genetic tools of Neurospora, which Ryan had brought to Columbia from his postdoctoral stint with Beadle and Tatum. But when Lederberg tried to repeat Avery?s experiments in Neurospora he was foiled by the high reversion rate of the nutritional mutant on hand in Ryan?s lab, leaving him with no way to identify rare transformants.?Lederberg decided to take a different tack. Instead of trying to replicate DNA transformation in an existing model organism, why not establish a new system for genetic analysis of bacteria? The conventional wisdom was that bacteria do not engage in sex, which would make standard genetic analysis impossible. There had been a few attempts to detect genetic exchange in bacteria, but the results were inconclusive. Lederberg decided to give it another try. Why not? He knew he had nothing to lose: he did not need to complete a research project to receive his MD degree.?Lederberg chose to use Escherichia coli for these experiments and started the painstaking process of mutagenizing cells and screening them for nutritional requirements. By July 1945, he was ready to attempt to detect sex in bacteria. Ryan had just learned that Tatum was moving to Yale University, and he suggested that Lederberg collaborate with Tatum on the pr [Attributes: First Edition]
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