Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Discovery that bacterium is a phosphate gourmet provides key clue to what makes it the most social of bacteria

09.09.2005


New research into one of the world’s most social bacteria - Myxococcus xanthus, has discovered that it has a gourmet style approach to its consumption of phosphates, which provides a key clue to what makes it the most "social" of bacteria.



Myxococcus xanthus is amazingly social and co-operative for a bacterium. It "hunts" as a pack, it makes a collective decision with other M. xanthus whether to go dormant or not, and it even has methods of policing the behaviour of individual bacteria that to try to "cheat" in the collective activity of the group. Now Dr David Whitworth from the Biological Sciences Department of the University of Warwick has also discovered that it appears to seek out and consume phosphate in a "gourmet" manner, providing important evidence as to how such a relatively simple organism is able to act in such a social manner.

Dr Whitworth looked at the signalling pathways used by the bacterium to process information to switch actions on or off. Myxococcus xanthus has an unprecedented number (around 150) of the signalling pathways known as "two component switches" which dramatically increases the level of complexity of information that can be processed by the bacterium. Dr Whitworth focussed on three previously described signalling pathways that were known to be similar to phosphate utilisation pathways (all organisms needs to consume phosphate to thrive). Until now most researchers believed that all bacteria only required one phosphate dependent signalling pathway to find the phosphate needed for consumption, and so the other two pathways found in M. xanthus simply did something else. In collaboration with Prof Mitchell Singer of the University of California at Davis, Dr Whitworth found that in fact the bacterium was using all three pathways and part of a further fourth pathway in combination, to detect and utilise phosphates, making it a very sophisticated consumer of phosphates - the bacterial equivalent of a gourmet diner.


That the 3 pathways act in concert probably enables the organism to find phosphates in different chemical states or environmental conditions, or even to exploit the phosphates found in other M. xanthus cells or those of potential prey organisms. Dr Whitworth found that:

The potential complexity of the information on phosphate levels the bacterium can process is significantly increased by the findings that there are three phosphate signalling pathways, with considerable interaction between the three pathways.

A further additional partial pathway also acts as a phosphate level detector - giving the bacterium even more tools to employ as a phosphate gourmet.

Dr Whitworth also has evidence that the surprising extent of interaction between the three and a half phosphate signalling pathways is also found among the other 140 plus signalling pathways of the bacterium. If three and half pathways are enough to make it a phosphate gourmet, the level of interactions between up to 150 pathways will easily be enough to give Myxococcus xanthus its precocious social skills.

Peter Dunn | alfa
Further information:
http://www.warwick.ac.uk
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/NE1000000118277/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>