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Discovery

Scientists Eavesdrop on Bacteria Conversation

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Photo showing a petri dish swabbed with a culture of bioluminiscent marine bacteria.

Molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler studies how bacteria communicate using a chemical language, a process known as quorum sensing. Pictured here is a petri dish swabbed with a culture of bioluminescent marine bacteria. The shapes at the left side of the dish are sketches of the four RNA molecules that control quorum sensing in these talkative bacteria.

Credit: Dr. Jennifer Henke, Princeton University


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Scanning electron micrograph depictintg two Vibrio cholerae bacteria about to separate.

A scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts two Vibrio cholerae bacteria photographed as they were about to separate after having undergone cellular division. Cholera bacteria count their numbers using quorum sensing in order to mount a coordinated attack on their host organisms.

Credit: Encyclopedia of Life/Public Health Image Library; Janice Carr


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Photo of Bonnie Bassler who discovered the quorum sensing process by which bacteria communicate.

Bonnie Bassler, a molecular biology professor at Princeton University, discovered the quorum sensing process by which bacteria communicate.

Credit: Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University


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