I do not normally write too much here about non Open Access publications but this one is so good I had to. Everyone with access to Trends in Microbiology should check out Julian Parkhill‘s rebuttal to an article written by David Whitworth in the same issue. Whitworth’s article is “Genomes and knowledge – a questionable relationship? ” and it is in my opinion, filled with some unsuppoerted and over the top statements. In essence, he is arguing that we should stop genome sequencing because there are a bunch of genomes out there already and after all, all that matters is work on model organisms so if you have enough genomes related to your model organism you should move on. Alas I do not have time to detail them here. But fortunately, Parkhill does a great job of responding in his article Time to remove the model organism blinkers. The end of his article reflects how I feel too:
In the end, when faced with the astonishing diversity of microorganisms, if all we manage to do is to describe a few random organisms in painstaking detail, then we will have failed to understand microbiology. To suggest we curtail the remit of microbial genomics is bad enough; to suggest it now, when we are on the brink of finally being able to truly study genomic diversity, is absurd.
So sure, sometimes we in genomics oversell the benefits of genome sequence data (and in fact, I give out a little award here for those people). But Whitworth is at the other end of the spectrum, wearing, as Parkhill states “blinkers” to the benefits of genome sequence data. As a reflection of how much I disagree with most of Whitworth’s implications, I am giving him my first “Underselling Genomics Award”.