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Even Bacteria Are Intelligent Beings

Bacteria are tiny living organisms. They are present all around us. Some of them are useful to the human beings. Others are technically called pathogens. Bacteria can be useful or harmful because of their ability to communicate with each other. This knowledge of communication in bacteria, that scientists had until now, was very limited. New research suggests that there are other bacteria which have very complex communication mechanism inherently present in them.

Basics to Appreciate the Research: All living beings on this planet are made up of cells. They are the building blocks of life. Organisms are either single celled or multi cellular. We human are made up of billions of cells. But, bacteria is a living organism which is single cellular.

How Bacteria Communicate With Each Other: Scientists until now have learnt about communication from observing a simple bacteria type called Escheriachia coli. This bacteria is made up of single cell and has a component called receptor on its surface. This receptor generates, sends and receives signals. The naturally present chemical substances in the cell trigger these functions on time. In this way, bacteria communicate with their receptors.

Knowledge Gained from the Research:

  • The research study was conducted at the Cellular and Molecular Biology at Knoxville.
  • Researchers found that there are very few receptors in the standard model bacteria Escheriachia coli.
  • This made knowledge about bacteria communication limited.
  • In the next stage, researchers chose new bacteria Azospirillum brasilence, with 48 receptors, as their model.
  • The study revealed that these receptors play a vital role in the bacteria’s ability to move, get easily and quickly adapted to new surroundings, take decision and spread diseases.
  • Researchers wanted to learn about the receptors in Azospirillum brasilence which provide them the ability to get adapted to surroundings easily.
  • These receptors were particularly chosen since precise knowledge about them can lead to discovery of new drugs to kill bacteria, from medicine to agriculture sector.
  • They found out that a process called Nitrogen fixation plays an important role in receptor functioning.
  • Here, Nitrogen gas from the surroundings is taken in by the bacteria and converted into Ammonium.
  • There are some naturally present chemical substances called enzymes, in the body, which are required for the process of Nitrogen fixation to take place properly.
  • The energy required to carry out this process is provided by Oxygen gas in the surroundings. But these enzymes can get destroyed in the presence of oxygen gas.
  • Researchers successfully identified a particular section of the receptor in Azospirillum brasilence.
  • This section’s function is to precisely sense the amount of oxygen required by the bacteria, to carry out nitrogen fixation, without destroying the essential enzyme.

Presence of such advanced sensory sections and processes like Nitrogen fixation make bacteria intelligent organisms, with abilities like mobility, adaptability, decision-making and spreading diseases more latently.

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