The purpose of this blog is to share our appreciation for the study of microbial viruses, the viruses that infect Eubacteria (also known as bacteriophage), Archaea, and microbial Eukaryotes. They dominate our planet’s ecosystem, serve as a profoundly useful model system for understanding life at its simplest, possess a dizzying array of powerful molecular tools we can borrow, and make steadfastly vicious allies in our fights with problematic microbes. Our name is based on the nursery rhyme “The Siphonaptera,” which eloquently describes a beautiful phenomena found more clearly in the viruses that infect microbes than anywhere else.
Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.
And the great fleas, themselves, in turn
Have greater fleas to go on;
While these again have greater still,
And greater still, and so on.
The rhyme is based closely on a section of “On Poetry: a Rhapsody” by Jonathan Swift,
The vermin only teaze and pinch
Their foes superior by an inch.
So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Thus every poet, in his kind,
Is bit by him that comes behind:
Who, though too little to be seen,
Can teaze, and gall, and give the spleen;
Call dunces, fools, and sons of whores,
Lay Grub Street at each other’s doors;
Extol the Greek and Roman masters,
And curse our modern poetasters;
Complain, as many an ancient bard did,
How genius is no more rewarded;
How wrong a taste prevails among us;
How much our ancestors outsung us:
Can personate an awkward scorn
For those who are not poets born;
And all their brother dunces lash,
Who crowd the press with hourly trash.