Draft post cleanup #6 from 2005: Hydrogen producing microbe mea culpa

Yet another post in my “draft blog post cleanup” series.  Here is #6. From 2005. (Yes, the bottom of my draft list).  In fact, this would have been my second blog post if I had posted it …

I had written

OK, so a few months ago we published a paper on a hydrogen producing microbe and issued a press release. I think the paper we published was pretty cool – lots of interesting science.

Then we (me and our public affairs person) wrote a press release about the project. We were fortunate enough to have the press release picked up by all sorts of bloggers and web commentary groups. Examples include Softpedia (article here) and probably most importantly Slashdot.

So – what was wrong?  Well, I was starting to get more and more jaded with bad press releases about science papers.  And I felt ours had at least one really lame part – my quote

So if you’re interested in making clean fuels, this microbe makes an excellent starting point.

Well, WTF?  I have never done anything with biofuels and I really knew nothing about them then.  That quote should never have been in the press release and I am not sure I even said it.

Other parts of the PR are OK I think but I wish that quote had never been in there.  I note – I do like the end though

What we want to have is a field guide for these microbes, like those available for birds and mammals,” Eisen says. “Right now, we can’t even answer simple questions. Do similar hot springs , a world apart, share similar microbes? How do microbes move between hot springs? Our new work will help us find out.

I agree with that.   I have indeed been obsessed with a Field Guide to the Microbes for a long time …

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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