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Genetically identical bacteria can behave in radically different ways

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Although a population of bacteria may be genetically identical, individual bacteria within that population can act in radically different ways.

As these bacterial cells divide, chemotaxis machinery (bright blue and red) localize in one daughter cell

This phenomenon is crucial in the bacteria’s struggle for survival. The more diversity a population of bacteria has, the more likely it will contain individuals able to take advantage of a new opportunity or overcome a new threat, including the threat posed by an antibiotic.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Washington showed that when a bacterial cell divides into two daughter cells there can be an uneven distribution of cellular organelles. The resulting cells can behave differently from each other, depending on which parts they received in the split.

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