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When faced with some sugars, bacteria can be picky eaters
Date:7/8/2014

ent behavior from bacteria regarding sugars, it's consistent with 'bet-hedging' behaviors that have been reported for bacteria in other contexts," he adds. "Bet hedging means that at least some of the bacteria will survive when faced with new environments."

The researchers also performed mathematical modeling, which found that the bacteria's diverse behaviors could be traced to the production of pumps and enzymes in the presence of sugar.

One question this study raises is whether this bet-hedging behavior is exhibited by bacteria used to convert sugars into biofuels. If it is, that would mean that a percentage of the bacteria aren't converting the sugar which would mean the system wasn't working at peak efficiency.

"But this work raises a lot of other questions as well," Beisel says. Why does this happen in the presence of some sugars but not others? What are the circumstances in which this bet-hedging behavior actually helps the bacteria? What happens in the presence of multiple sugars? And what does this mean for bacteria in real-world conditions? For example, how would this behavior impact the introduction of probiotics or pathogens into the human gut?

"These are all questions we'd love to answer," Beisel says.


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Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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