The recent study shows that everyday pathogenic bacteria are not so smart: their S-IQ score is just at the average level. But the social intelligence of the Vortex bacteria is at the "genius range": if compared to human IQ scores it is about 60 points higher than the average IQ at 100. Armed with this kind of information on the social intelligence of bacteria, researchers will be better able to outsmart them, says Prof. Ben-Jacob.
This information can also be directly applied in "green" agriculture or biological control, where bacteria's advanced offense strategies and toxic agents can be used to fight harmful bacteria, fungi and even higher organisms.
Tiny biotechnology factories
Bacteria are often found in soil, and live in symbiotic harmony with a plant's roots. They help the roots access nutrients, and in exchange the bacteria eat sugar from the roots.
For that reason, bacteria are now applied in agriculture to increase the productivity of plants and make them stronger against pests and disease. They can be used instead of fertilizer, and also against insects and fungi themselves. Knowing the Social-IQ score could help developers determine which bacteria are the most efficient.
"Thanks to the special capabilities of our bacteria strain, it can be used by researchers globally to further investigate the social intelligence of bacteria," says co-author Sirota-Madi. "When we can determine how smart they really are, we can use them as biotechnology factories and apply them optimally in agriculture."
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University