New research in the field of microorganisms has revealed that bacteria are much more advanced organisms than we thought before. Up to now, research has shown that bacteria can communicate via chemical signals through their quorum sensing capabilities. Bacteria who communicate with their own species using this personal language can coordinate their attacks or advocacy on this issue.
New research in this area has revealed that bacteria can communicate not only with their own species but also with different types of bacteria. Bacteria that use chemical signals to communicate with their species use electrical signals to communicate with other species.
Jintao Liu, a researcher who has been studying the biofilms of bacterial colonies, made this important breakthrough after noticing oddities in the development of biofilms. Discovering the existence of a phylum from a period of two hours during biofilm expansion followed by a two-hour inactivity period, Liu noticed that this expansion and pause cycle benefited all types of bacteria in the biofilm.
If the outer cells continued to expand uncontrollably, the bacterium in the center could not get enough nutrients and the biofilm skeletal structure would collapse from the center. Liu realized that the bacteria were working together to prevent this situation. This meant that different types of bacteria could somehow communicate with each other. Because biofilms contain many different types of bacterial colonies.
Knowing that bacteria can not communicate with different species using quorum-detection, researchers have begun to investigate how bacteria interact with other species. At this point, Arthur Pringle, another researcher on Jianto Liu’s team, found that bacteria used electrical signals to communicate with different species.
According to the article published in the Nature magazine of the team, including Jintao Liu and Arthur Pringle, bacteria can open pores used as ion channels. Bacteria then send positively charged potassium ions from these pores. Neighboring cells feel these molecules, open their pores and send more positively charged ions. Thus, electrical signals can be transmitted to the outer cells of the biofilm.