Tag Archives: microbes

Quorum sensing, microbes, and squids

Bobtail SquidAll microbes communicate with members of their own species and between species. This type of communication, called quorum sensing, allows bacteria to form rich social networks with their neighbors. Bacteria use quorum sensing to keep tabs on the density of members of their species in relation to the density of other species in order to perform fantastically synchronous events that they could never accomplish working in isolation–like the successful invasion of a host. And while pathogen-host interactions are incredibly intricate, beautifully structured, and close to my heart (figuratively) I’ll be focusing on a wonderfully evolved symbiotic relationship between a microbe and a squid: Vibrio fischeri and its life partner, the Hawaiian bobtail squid.

In this issue: Manipulative microbes

Ants, mice, and even humans can fall prey to puppetmaster parasites and other sinister bugs. Teresa Lee explores the diversity of microbial manipulation and finds that, while microorganisms are often finely tuned to particular hosts, it’s still a mystery how they can affect behavior. From yeast chemically tricking flies into giving it a lift, to the feline parasite linked to schizophrenia, and the intestinal microbiome that can affect more than just digestion, research at UC Berkeley is shedding light on the interactions – both hazardous and beneficial – between hosts and these invisible invaders. Be sure to check out the article in the BSR, and listen here or watch here for more information.

The latest issue of the Berkeley Science Review is out now! Each week, we’ll publish a preview of the fantastic articles, like this piece edited by Amanda Alvarez, that you can find in this issue.