Sci. Signal., 10 June 2008
Microbiology Foresight Among E. coli
Science, AAAS, Cambridge CB2 1LQ, UK
Many natural signals progress in a readily predictable sequence. For instance, after being eaten, a bacterium will perceive a sudden temperature rise followed by a drop in oxygen levels. Tagkopoulos et al. (see the Perspective by Baliga) investigated Escherichia colis predictive powers in a combination of in silico and chemostat experiments. On exposure to a large temperature change, E. coli can shift from aerobiosis to anaerobiosis even in the presence of 18% oxygen. This might seem maladaptive, but it means that the organism will have a competitive edge as soon as it encounters the zoo of microorganisms in the oxygen-starved lower gut. Furthermore, the authors were able to "train" the organisms to adapt metabolically to "unnatural" sequences of events, e.g., elevated temperature followed by high oxygen.
Citation: C. Ash, Foresight Among E. coli. Sci. Signal. 1, ec217 (2008).
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