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A Tale of Two Strategies

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Bacteria are for the most part gregarious organisms, living predominantly in dense communities consisting of multiple strains. In fact, the majority of infectious bacteria occur as multi-layered structures called biofilms, many of which are composed of multiple types of bacteria. As one can imagine, neighbor relations in such complex populations can be tricky. However, since we mostly study pure cultures of individual bacterial strains in the lab, knowledge relating to behavior within a complex population is very scarce. Now Stacy and co-workers elucidated the somewhat thorny relations between two microbial neighbors — one commensal and one pathogenic — in a biofilm community that may be inhabiting your mouth.

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