Bacteria also can get lonely

Not only humans can go crazy when they're been locked up. Scientists from New Mexico and New Hampshire are reporting that bacteria locked in solitary confinement know they are locked up, talk to themselves, and try to break free of their imprisonment.

The research could have important health implications, from how an individual bacterium can trigger full-blown infections to how a single human cancer cell can metastasize into a deadly tumor.

A human locked up in solitary confinement can see the walls around them, touch their rough surfaces, hear their pleas and curses echoing around the cell. Bacteria lack these senses, but they do have excellent noses. They smell the walls around them, using a chemical process known as quorum sensing.

Quorum sensing is how bacteria communicate with each other, and with the world around them. Bacteria send out specific chemicals, often called autoinducers, that diffuse away, their concentration decreasing the farther away the chemical travels. Low levels of autoinducers usually means that a bacterium is alone. High levels of autoinducers means there are many bacteria.

Once the signal reaches a certain threshold, or quorum, the bacteria change their behavior, turning some genes on, turning other genes off. The bacteria become an organized pack, known as a biofilm, instead of lone wolves. In a biofilm, certain bacteria are responsible for protection, others for food, and still others for replication. A biofilm can be anything from the brown scum on river rocks to the yellow mucus hacked up during a lung infection.

Via - Discovery News

Categories: ,


Hmmmmm... interesting find here.

Post a Comment