Bacteria and Sex

by | Feb 25, 2018 | health and well being, sustainable agriculture

Here I go again discussing microbes, one of my most exciting subjects these days.  I was very interested in this article discussing bacterial sex especially the parts of the article that discuss the fluid movement of DNA across their bacterial and viral ecosystems.  As I have discussed in other articles, the new scientific and technical tools enable a much more detailed and deeper view into the ecosystems of these microbes.  Studying them in isolation is no longer good enough to figure out how to improve the health of people and agriculture.  We need to figure out how they interrelate to each other, to us and the environment and what signals change these relationships.  There are so many new and exciting questions we can begin to ask now.  How does our choice of food or water affect the microbes in our bodies?  How does this change or not change the DNA in these bugs and gene expression in humans?  If we use new viral vectors for gene therapy or editing can these clever little guys figure out a way to change things again regardless of the changes we think we are making?  If we give a particular probiotic to a person for a certain medical condition, will it even matter if the microenvironment is not a welcoming place for this bacterial probiotic?  What kind of environment and situations enable a more balanced and healthy state?  What kinds of signals change how these microbes behave and decide to swap DNA with one another?  Do epigenetic signals and the noncoding area of the genome affect the ways these microbes communicate with each other and with us?  The convergence of new technology with new scientific techniques is rapidly changing our understanding of systems biology.  It is a very exciting time.

Bacterial sex: the promiscuous process driving antibiotic resistance