Tuesday 21 January 2014

Genetically identical bacteria can behave in different ways

Although a population of bacteria may be genetically identical, individual bacteria within that population can act in radically different ways, according to a new study.

The authors suggest that this phenomenon is important in the bacteria's struggle for survival. The more diversity a population of bacteria has, the more likely it will contain individuals able to take advantage of a new opportunity or overcome a new threat, including the threat posed by an antibiotic.

The study was carried out by University of Washington researchers, who showed that when a bacterial cell divides into two daughter cells there can be an uneven distribution of cellular organelles. The resulting cells can behave differently from each other, depending on which parts they received in the split.

For further details see:

M. Christen, H. D. Kulasekara, B. Christen, B. R. Kulasekara, L. R. Hoffman, S. I. Miller. Asymmetrical Distribution of the Second Messenger c-di-GMP upon Bacterial Cell Division. Science, 2010; 328 (5983): 1295 DOI: 10.1126/science.1188658

Posted by Tim Sandle

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