This month, Journal of Applied Microbiology publishes a ground-breaking study demonstrating that bacteria which are physically separated can transmit information through the air. It is well documented that bacteria can exchange messages by releasing substances into a surrounding liquid culture medium, but this new study is the first to demonstrate signalling between physically separated bacterial cells.
Professor Alan Parsons and Dr Richard Heal of QinetiQ ltd, have shown that physically separated colonies of bacteria can transmit signals conferring resistance to commonly used antibiotics. The discovery is thought to have direct application against the growing problem of the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics - in particular in preventing the growth of biofilms, which often cause infection associated with surgical implants.
Professor Parsons and Dr Heal conducted their experiments using a Petri dish divided into two compartments, connected by a five-millimetre air gap between the top of the wall and the lid. In one compartment they placed drops of the bacterium Escherichia coli, together with the antibiotics. When the other compartment was empty, the bacteria were killed. However, if thriving colonies of E.coli were placed in the other compartment, the first colony of bacteria not only survived, but also multiplied. Yet, if the gap between the compartments was sealed, the bacteria in the first compartment died. Professor Parsons and Dr Heal concluded that the bacteria must have been responding to some kind of airborne signal from the adjacent culture probably in the form of a volatile chemical.
Anna Van Opstal | alphagalileo
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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