George Garrity george_garrity at MERCK.COM
Fri Mar 24 10:07:59 CST 1995

        Reply to:   RE>databases
There is a general consensus among microbial ecologists that only 1-2% of all
of the microorganisms in nature have been cultivated (much less described).
If we have to have ALL of them identified, named and in a database by 2000, we
better get busy !  There's not much time left.

George Garrity
Natural Products Research
Merck Research Labs
Rahway, NJ

P.S.  Is the author of this article that same genetist/molecular biologist
that is telling everyone in the funding agencies that we won't need culture
collections in the future because once we know the DNA sequence, we can simply
recreate the organism when we need to.  (I think he/she has been watch too
many episodes of Star Trek.)

Date: 3/24/95 9:52 AM
To: George Garrity
From: Alan Kabat
*** Resending note of 03/23/95 16:54

In the latest issue of SCIENCE (17 March 1995, pg. 1609) is an article
containing a number of predictions for the future in science. One such
is of direct relevance to taxonomy:

"By the year 2000 or so ... we will also have a complete database of all
living organisms, including not only taxonomic data, but also
morphological, ecological, biogeographical, and biological data. A
complete census of the living organisms in selected habitats will be

Now, this utopian vision may well be realized for birds and mammals, but
I daresay that for the remaining vertebrates, not to mention the
invertebrates, plants, fungi, protista & bacteria, it will take rather
more than 5 years to have such a complete database! Perhaps our
colleagues in other fields (in this case, genetics) remain unaware of
how much remains to be done in systematics before such a database can be
completed?  --Alan Kabat (Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian Institution).


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