Zombie Bacteria - How do you choose the best time to return to the world of the living?

When faced with nutrient deficiencies and excess stress, some bacteria go into a state of dormancy, where life processes stop. In the form of the so-called spores (spores) can withstand extreme temperatures, pressure and even the harsh conditions of space. Eventually, they can “wake up” within minutes and return to the world of the living.

Read also: It took 50 years to solve the mystery. We already know how bacteria move

It should be noted that the germs wake up thanks to dehydration and re-metabolism. Until now, scientists didn’t know if bacteria encapsulated in spores could monitor the environment “while they were asleep” without waking up for life. Do dormant bacteria care about environmental conditions and choose the best time to wake up, or do they do it randomly?

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego This puzzle has been solved. They found that germs have the ability to assess their surroundings while remaining physiologically dead – and for this they use stored electrochemical energy. Details are described in the magazine Sciences.

a. Gürol Süel from the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of California, San Diego says:

This work is changing the way people think about germs that were once considered dormant organisms. We show that cells in a state of deep sleep have the ability to process information. We found that spores can release their stored electrochemical potential energy to make calculations about their environment without the need for metabolic activity.

How do bacteria come back to life?

Many types of bacteria form spores (spores) as a survival strategy that allows them to remain dormant for thousands of years. For this reason, the anthrax stick (Bacillus anthracis) is very dangerous because the spores they create are highly resistant to even the harshest environmental conditions.

Professor’s team. Suela decided to check whether the spores of straw cane (Bacillus subtilis) able to sense short-term environmental cues that weren’t strong enough to bring them back to life. It turned out that the spores were able to “count” the input signals, and if the sum reached a certain threshold, it was possible to “wake up”.

The micrograph reveals the spores with their electrochemical potentials marked in color depending on the strength of the signal/image. swell lab

The scientists developed a mathematical model to help explain this process and found that the spores use a mechanism known as exponential integration and firing models based on fluxes of potassium ions to assess the surrounding environment. They found that germs respond even to short-term cues that aren’t enough to trigger recovery from dormancy. Instead of waking up, the spores released some of their accumulated potassium in response to each little cue, then added successive positive cues to determine if conditions were right to get out. This signal processing strategy prevents conflicts from jumping into the realm of unfavorable conditions.

a. Gul Sol adds:

The way spores process information is similar to the way neurons in our brain work. In both bacteria and neurons, small and short signals are added together over time to determine if a threshold has been reached. Once the threshold is reached, the spores begin to come back to life, while the neurons release the actual potential to communicate with other neurons.

Interestingly, spores can perform this signal integration without any metabolic energy, while neurons are among the most energy dependent cells in our bodies.

Read also: Common bacteria help fight cancer. It should be ultrasonic heated

New spore research is changing common ideas about cells in highly dormant states that appear to be dead. These findings have implications for assessing life on things like meteors as well as for space missions looking for evidence of life.

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