Lessons from stressed-out bacteria could help researchers develop cancer therapies. Credit: Eshel Ben-Jacob, Tel Aviv University
SAN DIEGO, March 27, 2012 — When faced with life-or-death situations, bacteria — and maybe even human cells — use an extremely sophisticated version of “game theory” to consider their options and decide upon the best course of action, scientists reported here today. In a presentation at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, they said microbes “play” a version of the classic “Prisoner’s Dilemma” game.
José Onuchic, Ph.D., who headed the research team, said these and other new insights into the “chat” sessions that bacteria use to communicate among themselves — information about cell stress, the colony density (quorum-sensing peptides) and the stress status and inclinations of neighboring cells (peptide pheromones) — could have far-reaching medical applications.
“Using this form of cell-to-cell communication, colonies of billions or trillions of bacteria can literally reach a consensus on actions that impact people,” Onuchic explained. “Bacteria that previously existed harmlessly on the on the skin, for instance, may exchange chemical signals and reach a consensus that their numbers are large enough to start an infection. Likewise, bacteria may decide to band together into communities called biofilms that make numerous chronic diseases difficult to treat — urinary tract infections, for instance, cystic fibrosis and endocarditis.”
Excerpt from a press release at ACS. Continue HERE