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New UT Knoxville research finds new ways to understand bacteria's 'thinking'

It's not thinking in the way humans, dogs or even birds think, but new findings from researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, show that bacteria are more capable of complex decision-making than previously known.

The discovery sets a landmark in research to understand the way bacteria are able to respond and adapt to changes in their environment, a trait shared by nearly all living things, and it could lead to innovations in fields from medicine to agriculture.

In the long-term, the researchers think that scientists will be able to take the findings, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and use them to tailor medicines in new ways to fight harmful bacteria or to find enhanced ways to use bacteria in agricultural or other applications.

Biology typically looks at the common bacteria Escherichia coli as the model for bacteria's ability to move actively and independently, but Gladys Alexandre, an associate professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology at UT Knoxville, decided to look at the more complex soil bacterium, Azospirillum brasilense.
 
 

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