I just read an article published in Nature by Nigel Goldenfeld and Carl Woese entitled “Biology’s next revolution”.
I think it’s understandable for those working with eukaryotic cells to have a bit of a “static” concept
of words such as genome and species even though these genomes and species have arised from exchange events and fluid interactions with their environment and cohabitants. It’s not acceptable for microbiologists to embrace this point of view which, as they clearly state in their article, is far from being true.
I think the way bacteria and archaea trade with their genomic legacies is more similar to the way indiviuduals develop our opinion in politics, religion, etc. When you define an organism as belonging to a certain species is the same as calling somebody republican, democrat, religious, etc. Knowledge and data is giving us a clearly blurred gradient between individual cells and their respective species.
I know it’s handy to put tags on things, that allows our brain to clearly recognise and allocate what we’re talking about, but, as this paper stresses is starting to be a bit a burden for scientific advance.
So I think we should keep our tags for our -80 C stocks but not to our way of thinking and comprehending the world that surrounds us; unless you want a frozen mind.