Scientists reveal bacteria have nosesMon, August 16, 2010 - 9:21 AM
In laboratory tests, scientists found that two rival species of soil bacteria, Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformus, both reacted the same way to the smell of ammonia given off by the other. Each bug began to generate biofilm, or "slime", whereby bacteria join together to colonise an area and push out any potential competitor. The response decreased as the distance between the two bacterial colonies got bigger. Ammonia is one of the simplest sources of nitrogen, a key nutrient for bacterial growth.
Professor Grant Burgess, director of the Dove Marine Laboratory at the University of Newcastle, said: "The sense of smell has been observed in many creatures, even yeasts and slime moulds, but our work shows for the first time that a sense of smell even exists in lowly bacteria. "From an evolutionary perspective, we believe this may be the first example of how living creatures first learned to smell other living creatures.
"It is an early observation and much work is still to be done, but nevertheless, this is an important breakthrough which also shows how complex bacteria are and how they use a growing number of ways to communicate with each other. "Bacterial infections kill millions of people every year, and discovering how your bacterial enemies ommunicate with each other is an important step in winning this war. This research provides clues to so far unknown ways of bacterial communication." The research is published today in the Biotechnology Journal.
Dr Reindert Nijland, another member of the team, said although it was clear that the bugs responded to smell, what kind of "nose" they had was still unknown. "The next step will be to identify the nose or sensor that actually does the smelling," he said.
Biofilm is a major source of infection caused by medical devices such as heart valves, artificial hips and breast implants. It also costs the marine industry millions of pounds each year by slowing down ships and wasting fuel. On the other hand certain biofilms thrive on petroleum and can be used to clear up oil spills.
"Slime is important in medical and industrial settings, and the fact that the cells formed slime on exposure to ammonia has important implications for understanding how biofilms are formed," said Dr Nijland.
By John von Radowitz, PA posted on ‘the Independent’ website on Monday, 16 Aug 2010
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Al this shows is - we came from a lowly chemical compound that reacted to chemical stimuli to be the major chemical compound we are that still reacts to chemical stumuli.
But now we have a brain. A blessing or a curse? Depends on what you think.
Most of us have one that works, mostly sometimes, if we remember to turn it on.
Sometimes the f**ker backfires through the carburator causing mayhem and assorted stupidity.
Other times the clutch slips and excretement hits the rotary air mover but it never get evenly distributed.
Now and again, you get to rev it up through all the gears.
Then, you're cookin'!