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Thinking ahead: Bacteria anticipate coming changes in their environment
Date:6/18/2008

ponse of these gastronomically savvy bugs peaked just when food was offered, says Tagkopoulos.

When the researchers examined a number of fit virtual bugs, they could at first make little sense out of them. "Their biochemical networks were filled with seemingly unnecessary components," says Tagkopoulos. "That is not how an engineer would design logic-solving networks." Pared down to their essential elements, however, the networks revealed a simple and elegant structure. The researchers could now trace the different sequences of gene and protein interactions organisms used in order to respond to cues and anticipate mealtimes. "It gave us insights into how simple organisms such as bacteria can process information from the environment to anticipate future events," says Tagkopoulos.

The researchers say that their findings open up many exciting avenues of research. They are planning to use similar methods to study how bacteria exchange genes with one another (horizontal gene transfer), how tissues and organs develop (morphogenesis), how viral infections spread, and other core problems in biology.

"What is really exciting about our discovery is that it brings together and establishes deep connections between the traditionally separate fields of microbial ecology, network evolution, and behavior," says Tavazoie.


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Contact: Steven Schultz
sschultz@princeton.edu
609-258-3617
Princeton University, Engineering School
Source:Eurekalert  

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