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Crowdsourced Microbes Heading to Station

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When Microbial Conversations Get Physical

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"In a recent Opinion piece in Trends in Microbiology, Gemma Reguera invites us to think outside the box. The box in question harbors the notion that communication between microbes is chemical, and only chemical. Here, the author cuts through the confines of this perspective to point out that microbial communication also takes place via physical interactions."

"By physical, Reguera means sound waves, electromagnetic radiation (mainly light), and electric currents. The latter, thanks to recent work on the function microbial nanowires, is the more familiar one. (Incidentally, this paper’s brief overview of the nanowire business is as clear as any I’ve seen.) Nanowires form grids between cells, clearly constituting an effective mechanism of communication. But further, Reguera proposes that many other microbes may communicate electrically, all being polarizable and many being known to respond to electrical reorientation (i.e., galvanotaxis)."

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