Saturday, September 17, 2005

Bacteria Secrete Vesicles!

Last week's Nature had a very interesting article about how the bacterium (aka prokaryote) Pseudomonas aeruginosa sends messages to it's neighbors. Now these "messages" are nothing new and have been described by many such as Bonnie Bassler. Usually bacteria need to change the types of genes that get turned on, when they start getting crowded. By sending messages and sensing messages (aka quorum signals) from their neighbors, bacteria can judge how dense the local bacteria population is.

What's new is that many of these signals are not freely diffusing around but are "packaged" into vesicles (see picture)!

First off I did not know that bacteria even made or secreted vesicles, but apparently some do, and this has been described before. And now these vesicle contain packets of information? Wow, those bacteria are more sophisticated than I'd ever imagined.

Ref: Lauren M. Mashburn and Marvin Whiteley Membrane vesicles traffic signals and facilitate group activities in a prokaryote. Nature 437, 422-425