Plasmid poem and other ditties

A tradition of earlier conferences on plasmid biology was the creation and recitation at the conference banquet of the plasmid poem. 

1978, Berlin
Genetic Kapers (S. Levy, D. Clewell, K. Ippen-Ihler and contributors)
When plasmids carne into this world
Who’d have known that they would be
A problem for the doctors
and a research grant for me
We see them keep on growing
World widely they abound,
Collecting genes like garbage
And passing them around.
When I was just a little gene
Upon the chromosome
A plasmid sat down next to me,
Said: “Don’t be a stay at home.
Excise with me, I have the stuff
My tra genes are intact
The time has come for you to learn
About the mating act.”
I am a lonely pilus
On the surface of a cell
I have a reputation
as a sexy organelle.
Its my good luck I’m not Fin+
I’m always out to play
When I attach, oh what a match
I have a holiday.
I am a special entity
Oh happy, happy me
My life is full of fun and games
And promiscuity.
Who else can flit so easily
From one mate to the next
No care about the species
And even less the sex.
I’m still transposon number 10
Though I can’t name my ends,
I think I’ll have to sequence them
Before I make amends.
Were they once IS3? Oh well,
Until just recently
I guess that for the moment
They’ll be called IS – SC.
Conjugation, penetration, consumation
Oh that’s great
Deprepress your inhibition
Find a mate and aggregate.
Now, penetrate the membrane
Right on to the chromosome
If you miss, you’re just a plasmid
Try to be an episome!
Illegitimate recombination, transformation
Are just two
Of the acts that we do daily
In and out of each of you.
We are Nature’s way of giving
Special functions which you’ll use
To survive the contamination
In the stuff they call their foods.
One day it carne without a word
It took away our fun
And in the dark it left behind
A memorandum.
Do this it said, do not do that
For we know what is best
And those who always live in fear
Will be the ones who’re blessed.

1981 Gordon Conference
There are new circles on the block
That we would like to meet.
They hang around eukaryotes
In sites that are discrete.
Let’s have a blast with a chloroplast
Lets teach them how we play,
They’re more complex, but do love sex
At least that’s what they say.
Give me water, give me sunlight
Give me you and C02,
It may not be conjugation
But I’ll give my all for you.
I’ll expand and fill my belly
With lamelli, oh so sweet,
When I’m green you know I’m ready
And mature enough to eat.
I am a mitochondrion
My job is ATP
Which I can make when I am grande
But not when I’m petit(e).
In days of yore, I used to score
But now I must depend
On my gross host, who can but boast
Of fusion in the end.
ATATATATATATATA, (etc entire chorus, follows)
ATATATATATATATA
Now I’ve learned to read a plastid
In the eukaryotic way.
ATATATAT, Will I ever find my way
To a more exciting sequence
‘Fore I get to TAA.

1983 Gordon Conference
A horny streptococcus
Encultured with a male
Exudes her sexy pheromone
And leaves a perfumed trail
He likes her smell, it turns him on
He sprouts a fuzzy coat
Once they begin, their friends join in
A gang-coccal love boat!
Stimulation, titulation
CIA will turn you on,
You’ll become a hairy fellow
What a joy to gaze upon.
It’s a positive experience
For an E. faecalis male
Forget it, you gram-negatives
You’re only doomed to fail!
I’m losing my stability
My vector’s in arrears
My cop is low, my rep is gone
I fear the end is near.
Don’t hold me back, I’ve got to go
It’s clear I have two P,
My neat repeat, provides a seat
It’s in or out for me.
When you’re in a bad position
Transposition is the thing
Look around for a new target
Grab a hold and move right in.
Though you’re needy, don’t be greedy,
Just one copy is enough.
If you amplify your genome
You will just Muc up the stuff.
(also, special verse & chorus for S.Levy’s wedding)

Urbana, 1984
I am a binding protein
Though my domains are few,
Expose me to a protease
And I’ll split into two.
If you need me for a footprint
Just don’t disturb my pleats,
You can have my alpha helix
Slip twixt my beta sheets.
Cut me up and rearrange me,
Up my cop and probe me too.
If you fuse me don’t confuse me
With another gal that’s blue!
If you must tinker, add a linker
For example, pro-X-gly.
If you prove yourself a thinker
I will give you perfect pi!
I was just a quiet gene
In total self control,
I hid behind a fig leaf
With my regulation soul.
Now my partisome is parted
And I am in a jam,
But I don’t give a dcm
And I don’t give a dam.
Naomi kicked the meeting off,
Her plasmids are just smashing.
Then she put her glasses on
And shocked us all by flashing!
She impressed us with her super
Com pa ti bil i ty.
Though she’s retiring to Chiswick
She leaves a legacy,
Inc ABC D E and F (I, II, III, IV)
G H I J K L
M Nap Q R S T
UVWXYZ.
We heard from Kurt about Rl
And Rownd of replication,
Mike brought in a Clepsydra
To help the situation.
The speakers had blue ribbons on,
Jim gave large mammals caution.
Don’s a mere terrestrial
But he works with a Martian!
Reiterate your sequences,
Invert a large repeat,
Transcribe in both directions
And let your transcripts meet.
Add in a kil or kor or two
Three oris, inc’s and par,
And you’ll be a biologist
Who’s quite molecular.

Gordon Conference 1986
Within the fold back family
Funding should corne with ease,
Now that we know transposons
Are a sexual disease.
Look out for body snatchers
And killer chromosomes
They will scramble up your ARSes
And screw up your genome.
Killer Kappa, killer bases,
Killer cords on microphones,
Killer boxes without pointers,
Sub molecular life forms.
Now that I am epistatic
I would like to sing my way
From ATATATAT
To CGCGC!
Our NIH proposal
Is to sequence man’s genome,
We plan to have a raffle
To choose those chromosomes.
We could sequence someone living
Or even someone dead.
You won’t even have to read it,
We can play its tune instead.
We could do a Mensa Man
But the Arabs could give more,
A senator or president
Might lack the IQ score.
Neil has volunteered a Y
Just in case we do the queen,
We could even clone from Howard
If Hughes Institute was keen.
Although alcohol denatures me
Tonight I feel just great!
Instead of food I’ll substitute
3 Molar Acetate.
I’m ready to transform
But I’d rather conjugate
Hurry up and do it now
Lest I precipitate.
Conjugation, penetration, consummation.
Oh that’s great!
Derepress your inhibition
Find a mate and aggregate.
Now, penetrate the membrane
Right on to the chromosome
If you miss you’re just a plasmid
Try to be an episome!