Navigation Links
Recalculating cell sensing

Mobile biological cells may be twice as good at following chemical signals as previously believed possible, according to Princeton researchers publishing in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters. The revelation offers new insight into the ability of microscopic, single-celled entities such as bacteria, amoebae, immune cells and sperm to find their way to their intended destinations.

Biological sensors, including the retina in our eyes, typically evolve to operate very nearly at the ultimate limits allowed by physics. The main things that prevent them from achieving absolute perfection are random fluctuations known as noise. Determining the amount of noise inherent to a cell's detection scheme lets biologists know how well a cell can respond to a signal. In the case of microscopic cells and creatures that follow chemical trails, organisms have two tracking methods at their disposal. For larger microorganisms like amoeba, the relative amount of a chemical on one side of the cell compared to the other side indicates which direction to travel in order to move to higher concentrations of desirable chemicals. Smaller cells, like those of the bacterium E. coli, instead monitor changes in the total chemical concentration, and they find their way by moving in the direction that increases the overall signal of chemicals they find appealing.

For the last thirty years, researchers have believed they had a good handle on the noise that chemical-sensing cells were faced with, but the new analysis shows that the noise may be low enough for some cells to do twice as well at following chemicals as long-standing estimates suggested. More research will be necessary in order to tell if cells are as sensitive to chemical signals as the recent study proposes. In any case, the work should help guide scientists who are developing synthetic sensors modeled on cells that follow chemical trails. Sima Setayeshgar of Indiana University offers an overview of chemical sensing in cells, and a look at old and new estimates of their sensitivity limits, in a Viewpoint article in the current issue of APS Physics (


Contact: James Riordon
American Physical Society

Related biology news :

1. New insight into the mechanisms of voltage sensing and transduction in biological processes
2. Northwestern study looks at sensing, movement and behavior
3. Pervasive environmental sensing a possibility
4. Rice scientists make breakthrough in single-molecule sensing
5. Biosensing nanodevice to revolutionize health screenings
6. Too hot to handle! Scientists identify heat sensing regulator
7. UV-B light sensing mechanism discovered in plant roots
8. Common herbicides and fibrates block nutrient-sensing receptor found in gut and pancreas
9. Sensing disasters from space
10. Kent State receives $2.7 million NSF training grant for environmental aquatic resource sensing
11. Using remote sensing to track invasive trees
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/2/2015)... , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International has ... to provide preclinical development services to the National Cancer ... SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and support ... of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate potential ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... -- Daon, a global leader in mobile biometric authentication ... version of its IdentityX Platform , IdentityX v4.0. ... have already installed IdentityX v4.0 and are seeing ... UAF certified server component as an option and ... These customers include some of the largest and most ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... OXFORD, Connecticut , October 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused on the ... Wocket® smart wallet announces that StackCommerce, a leading ... will be featuring the Wocket® smart wallet on ... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... A long-standing partnership ... Professionals (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. ... OPBAP leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, November 24, 2015, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... FAR HILLS, N.J. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... University, as the recipient of the 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since ... of golf through his or her work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... event of the year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical ... ran from 8–11 November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model ... Group (SIG), MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View ... years. Many AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several new model ...
Breaking Biology Technology: