Biologists Discover Bacteria Communicate Like Neurons in the Brain
Biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that bacteria —often viewed as lowly, solitary creatures — are actually quite sophisticated in their social interactions and communicate with one another through similar electrical signaling mechanisms as neurons in the human brain.
In a study published in Nature, the scientists detail the manner by which bacteria living in communities communicate with one another electrically through proteins called “ion channels.”
“Our discovery not only changes the way we think about bacteria, but also how we think about our brain,” said Gürol Süel, an associate professor of molecular biology at UC San Diego who headed the research project. “All of our senses, behavior and intelligence emerge from electrical communications among neurons in the brain mediated by ion channels. Now we find that bacteria use similar ion channels to communicate and resolve metabolic stress. Our discovery suggests that neurological disorders that are triggered by metabolic stress may have ancient bacterial origins, and could thus provide a new perspective on how to treat such conditions.”
Image: Bacteria within a biofilm (in background and close up in right hemisphere inset) have similar electrical signaling mechanisms as neurons in the human brain.
Credit: Suel lab #neuroscience #brain #bacteria #research