Thursday, 11 October 2012

Bacterial warfare -- perhaps not

A paper about bacteria forming (perhaps) socially cohesive colonies made up of related but distinct species, and then waging war against each other (well, 'perhaps' again). Would not have picked this up, had it not been the subject to the JC the next door in zoology.

It is a fascinating description of how different species of bacteria can form what look like colonies, with within colony resistance to each other's antibiotics emerging, which in turn keeps the other colonies away. Not clear whether there really is group-level behaviour, though some features (stable populations, horizontal gene transfer among species which harmonises the poison production within each colony) are suspect. For if these guys are not doing social action, then perhaps some human groups aren't either...

Anyway, worth a read. Here is the link.

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