by Andre on 25 March 2006
Seed has some movies from the Xie group showing their bacteria multiplying and flashing. Each burst of photons is from a single fluorescent protein folding into its functional state. They subsequently vanish due to photobleaching.
This brings me to my somewhat related thought of the day. Consider the thousands of cultures of bacteria that scientists study in labs around the world. The scientists are looking for “interesting” behaviour in their cultures and the bacteria are trying to survive. Those bacteria that fit the criteria for interesting are cultured more frequently and also dispersed around the world to other labs that also want to culture them. So, in a way, bacteria that evolve more interesting behaviours are actually evolving the ability to modify the behaviour of the scientists that they rely on to survive. It’s almost like Carl Zimmer’s fascinating discussion of behaviour modifying parasites, but in a less direct and creapy kind of way.