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The Catch of the Day: Bacterial Lobster Traps

It’s the kind of microbiology that would make Steve Irwin proud: tracking and trapping the wild Pseudomonas aeruginosa to study its habits. In mBio’s latest paper, the authors describe using “bacterial lobster traps”, picoliter-scale, permeable protein cages, to study quorum-sensing among small groups of cells.
Unlike the conditions in most in vitro studies, bacteria in nature often reside in dense clusters of significantly fewer cells. By locking up one cell and letting it replicate into a small clonal population, the authors were able to create more true-to-life situations for their micro-wildlife. When it comes to quorum sensing in the tiny traps, they found that not only does bacterial density play a role in triggering cooperative action, but population size and flow rate of the surrounding medium also come into play.

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