tubes species cropped

Figure(d) Tubus sp. from left to right; Tubus grandis, T. eppendorfis, T. minieppendorfis, T. pcr spp. flatlid and T. pcr spp. roundlid. Botton right; aggregates of T. pcr


Labs are usually ‘crawling’ with tubes – ranging from the larger, more common Tubus eppendorfis spp. microcentrifungus to the smaller Tubus pcr spp. flatlid and the closely related spp.roundlid (see Figure(d), above). The former has a remarkably varied diet and will sustain itself on many everyday lab solutions such as NaCl, buffers, BSA protein, and sometimes even DNA and RNA. The latter, however, survives in more specialised molecular ecological niches and relies on specific amounts of magnesium chloride, DNA polymerase enzyme and plasmid DNA. If caught and tamed T. pcr is more gregarious than T.eppendorfis – enjoying Master Mix cocktails, tube tickling sessions, and can be lost for hours on long hot cycling trips. On the other hand, T.eppendorfis likes nothing better than the rigour of a right good vortexing to mix up it’s lab ‘soup’.

Some Tubus sp. are on the endangered list with numbers of T. grandis (top left, Figure(d)) markedly declining – presumably as a result of extreme competition in the ‘consumables jungle’. Concerns about the future of Tubus sp., and the growing  awareness of their benefit to Science, has led international consortia – led by a group in Tübingen – to propose the whole plastic sequencing of Tubus (employing the new, next-gen ‘Plast-seq’ platform). Here, the omnipresent Tubus eppendorfis is mooted as the ‘reference’ Tubus ‘plast-ome’. Intense research has sought to identify the last common ancestor of Tubus sp. and recent indications point to the emergence of Tubus from around 1953 in the area around The Eagle pub in Cambridge, UK, although there also seems to have been several major duplication events around 1975 (known as the ‘Sanger-ian Epoch’), and a decade later in California (known as the ‘Mullis-oic Age’).

PCR tubes red tray

Fig(ed) An example of domesticated Tubus pcr corralled into a rack, ready to join a HighThroughput community


Tubus eppendorfis can usually be easily spotted roaming labs, not uncommonly in ‘packs’ of 500, but can also be found in smaller groups – typically on the Savannahs of exposed bench tops, and can be tamed or corralled into ‘racks’ (see Fig (ed), above).  Recent evolutionary adaptations has seen T. pcr develop the ability to aggregate in groups of 8 ‘strips’ (see also Figure(d)) thereby gathering as defined communities, known as HighThroughput communities. Politically this has led to some tensions within groups of the Tubus species, with the LowThroughput community complaining of marginalization from opportunities to advance the case for Science.

The future for Tubus sp.? Climate change…population explosion…er…flooding….mmm…Armageddon… thing is needed ….drum roll…….drum roll….More Research Needs To Be Carried Out !

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