Caterpillars get viruses? From wasps, no less. Well stranger things have happened. The fact that this “hostile cognitive takeover” and indoctrination (of a caterpillar!) to get it to feed your larvae and fiercely protect them after they’re done destroying your body seems to be the most natural thing, you know – nature following its normal course, is somewhat genius baffling.
How do bacteria know when to attack a human body system? How do the bacteria such as the Vibrio fischeri (found in the Hawaiian bobtail squid) know when to create light (bioluminesence) in unison?
In a fascinating study, Bonnie Bassler and her team of researchers at her Molucular Biology lab, discovered that bacteria are able to communicate with each other (intra- and inter- species) and effectively coordinate group behaviors using a process dubbed quorum sensing. The bacteria secrete signaling molecules (autoinducers) that are picked up by neighboring bacteria using their receptors. This process allows them to “turn on” group behaviors by “voting” on group actions and performing a chosen action (e.g. launching a virulent attack, glowing in the dark etc.) in unison.
So what if the chemical signals were sufficiently obfuscated so that the bacteria can’t talk to each other? Could this mean that new medicines modeled in this fashion could effectively prevent the harmful microbes from coordinating with each other and therefore pathogenesis?
Apparently another group of researchers has found a way to successfully disrupt quorum sensing in Vibrio cholerae (cholera-causing) and E. Coli (food contaminant).
A very promising breakthrough that could help with the prevention and/or development of a cure for many diseases.