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Letter from Joshua Lederberg to D. Michael Young

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  • Medicine


Copyright 0 1987 by the Genetics Society of America Perspectives Anecdotal, Historical and Critical Commentaries on Genetics Edited by James F. Crow and William F. Dove GENE RECOMBINATION AND LINKED SEGREGATIONS IN Escherichia CO& N article with this title was published in GENETICS A just 40 years ago’ (LEDERBERG 1947), following soon after the first discovery of recombination in Escherichia coli strain K-12 (LEDERBERG and TATUM 1946). Its appearance coincided with my arrival at the University of Wisconsin to become an assistant pro- fessor of genetics. The work had been completed in E. L. TATUM’S laboratory at Yale University between March 1946 and June 1947. I then spent the summer at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole writing my Ph.D. dissertation and the 1947 article’ (which was its most important chapter). These studies had begun at Columbia University (in the Zoology Department!) in FRANCIS J. RYAN’S laboratory in July of 1945. Although his name does not appear in the authorship, I had benefited enormously from his tu- telage, encouragement and discipline. Homage to Francis has been expressed more fully in my own reminiscences (LEDERBERG 1986, 1987) and by others as well (MOORE 1964; RAVIN 1976). I was equally fortunate to have had TATUM take me in his labora- tory and share the then hard-won auxotrophic mu- tants of E. coli K-l 2 that greatly facilitated the exper- iments (LEDERBERG 1977, 1988). Our first presentation about crossing in K-12 had been to the Symposium on Heredity and Variation in Microorganisms at Cold Spring Harbor in July, 1946. Although it elicited many critical questions, I was most fortunate to have had such an extraordinary forum in which to respond to them. With the notable intransi- gence of MAX DELBR~K aside, I encountered little further entrenched skepticism about the result, except from some few who had not participated in that de- bate. What could be reported that July included: 1. The prod

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