[Best of] The versatile social life of microorganisms
Microorganisms have existed much longer than any other life form on earth and have had time to develop great biodiversity. In fact, bacteria are so genetically different that there may be greater genetic difference between two E. coli bacteria than a human and a corn plant. We are used to studying bacteria and other microorganisms in relation to what we can use them for, but the microorganisms use their neurotransmitters to influence other organisms both as cooperation and competition.
It is not only an arms race between antibiotics, but the organisms also cooperate and help each other to use raw materials better. Some researchers even talk about social microorganisms that communicate with each other in small communities.
Science Journalist Jens Degett talks to Professor Lone Gram from the Center for Microbial Secondary Metabolites at the Danish Technical University DTU (in Danish).