Should I kill or should I go? Bacteria making decisions

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Many bacteria have a deadly weapon called type 6 secretion system. But having this powerful weapon, how would bacteria know when to use it or not? 

They can’t just fire these arrows randomly all the time. Producing the machine as well as the arrows costs a lot of energy. Hence, bacteria need to make sure they only produce and fire this weapon when required.

Two recent studies looked at four different bacterial species from the Vibrio family and tried to understand whether the species would regulate the production and firing of this weapon in a similar manner.

They focused on Vibrio cholerae, which is the causative bacterium for choleric diarrhoea; on Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which is a seafood-borne cause for gastroenteritis; Vibrio alginolyticus, another seafood-poisoning cause, and the squid symbiont Vibrio fischeri.

All of these bacteria live in marine environments and can live in or infect fish or seafood, which is why they are being studied in depth. They also contain at least one of the T6SS killer weapons.

In the two studies, that I also explain in depth, the researchers used different methodological approaches, but they came to similar conclusions.

Read the whole article here:

Should I kill or should I go?

And the studies here:

Sarah Wettstadt

Science Writer, MicroComms