Re: another not-April Fool's-post...
Mon, 29 Mar 1999 10:39:10 EST

In a message dated 99-03-29 08:30:43 EST, you write:

> BTW, the nanobe story doesn't fall into the same category, as far as I can
> tell. It was picked up by all the major serious news outlets in Oz, can be
> traced back to journal articles in what look like sound peer reviewed
> journals (I haven't gone to the uni stacks and sought the refs out), and
> can be found linked from various reputable university research sites. I
> think it's safe to assume that the nanobe claims are perfectly serious.
> (They might also turn out to be misunderstood non-controversial
> commonplaces, of course.)

I agree the nanobe story is for real. I do wonder whether they made a mistake,
though. They claim to have found organisms with diameters down to 20 nm which contain DNA. That's awful small. There's room for a lipid layer, a DNA helix, and that's about it - in other words, a helical DNA virus. How could such
a thing metabolize? I suspect they found either viruses or chromatin strands from dead and lysed eukaryotes. I also note they published in a geological journal rather than a biological journal, where this discovery would belong. I expect they did find something interesting but probably not the "nanobacteria" some have been talking about. I expect we'll see a lot more work on this in a few months.