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MWV Episode 67 - The Secret Language of Bacteria

No bacterium lives alone – it is constantly encountering members of its own species as well as other kinds of bacteria and diverse organisms like viruses, fungi, plants and animals. To navigate a complex world, microbes use chemical signals to sense and communicate with one another.

Filmed live on January 28th, 2013, at ASM's headquarters, catch a glimpse into the fascinating language of bacteria with discussions by Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University, and Steven Lindow, University of California, Berkley.

Dr. Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University

Bonnie Bassler Ph.D. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. The research in her laboratory focuses on the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use for intercellular communication. This process is called quorum sensing. Bassler’s research is paving the way to the development of novel therapies for combating bacteria by disrupting quorum-sensing-mediated communication. Dr. Bassler was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2002. She was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2002 and made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2004. Dr. Bassler was the President of the American Society for Microbiology in 2010-2011; she is currently the Chair of the American Academy of Microbiology Board of Governors. She is also a member of the National Science Board and was nominated to that position by President Barak Obama. The Board oversees the NSF and prioritizes the nation’s research and educational priorities in science, math and engineering.

Dr. Steven Lindow, University of California, Berkeley

Steven Lindow Ph.D. is a Professor at the University of California, Berkley where his research focuses on various aspects of the interaction of bacteria with the surface and interior of plants. Dr. Lindow’ s lab uses a variety of molecular and microscopy-based methods to study the ecology of bacterial epiphytes that live on the surface of plants as well as certain bacteria that are vascular pathogens of plants. They also study bacteria that live in and on plants that are fostered by consumption of the alkaloids produced by endophytic fungi. The longer-term goal of their research is to improve plants’ productivity by achieving control of plant diseases through altering the microbial communities in and on plants. Dr. Lindow is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and was elected to fellowship in both the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1999.

Image credit for video thumbnail - Lyngbya Gathering by Barry Rosen, U.S. Geological Survey

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