TED Talk: Social Bacteria

We have 10x bacteria cells on or in our bodies as human cells. By far most of those protect us. Soap which kills 99% of bacteria kills both the good and the bad. This video by far gives an idea as to how cool bacteria can be.

Bonnie Bassler here says bacteria use produce chemicals which attach to receptors to communicate with each other to know when they have enough presence to do their joint action called quorum sensing. The human brain acts similarly. Vasopressin, oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline, cortisol, etc. all influence brain cells with the right receptors. Really most if not all human cells are operate in unison by chemicals attaching to receptors. Of course, our cells are super-specialized descendants of bacteria, so why not use a known efficient communication method?

It seems like bacteria intending to attack a human would have been selected for two contradictory points:

  1. Large enough numbers to overwhelm the body.
  2. Small enough numbers to prevent white blood adapting and increasing their own numbers to fight off the infection.

Interrupting the quorum sensing used by bacteria to delay the attacks ought to violate that second selection point. If so, then this might create selection pressure for bacteria which launch their attacks with smaller numbers. This might be even better for us?

I also like how she gave credit to her team of people who did the real work.


One response to “TED Talk: Social Bacteria”

  1. Lorenia Avatar

    I like this post. You’re so thorough – love the related links. haha

    But yeah, it kind of drives me crazy when I see people using antibacterial hand sanitizer. Just go wash your hands with some soap, yo.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: