home Building science Dr. Director & Duflo: Dogs Dropping Doody Do Digestive DNA Data Duty 

Dr. Director & Duflo: Dogs Dropping Doody Do Digestive DNA Data Duty 

OK I could not help it with the alliteration, since I just had to top the headline in the NY Times.

Source: Dogs Do Their Duty for Science – The New York Times

The article is about the work of Jane Carlton (full disclosure – I used to work with her at TIGR) and their efforts to get dog and cat poop samples for studies of microbiomes, with a particular focus on eukaryotic microbes (also known generally as protists).

The project sounds important and worth contributing your animals’ poop to (attention everyone in the NYC area).

However I do have one big quibble. The NY Times writes:

Her work is focused on the kingdom of parasites known as protists, a higher order of cell life than bacteria or viruses.

Oh for the love of evolution. First, protists are not all parasites. Second, they are not a kingdom (the five kingdom tree of life is an old, outdated concept and regardless, protists are not a single group but are many different groups). And third, and most importantly, they are not a “higher” order of life than bacteria and viruses. The whole concept of “higher” and “lower” forms of life is non scientific and outdated and has no place in the NY Times or any other science based discussion of biology.

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David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

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