Episode Summary

Phages eavesdrop on bacterial communications to attack at the perfect moment!

Thanks to Justin Silpe and Dr. Bonnie Bassler for their contributions!

Microbe of the episode

Artichoke Aegean ringspot virus 

Jesse's takeaways

Even organisms as small as bacteria can, and often do, communicate with each other through a process called quorum sensing, in which each cell releases a small amount of a certain chemical into their surroundings. When the population is large enough that the concentration of this chemical builds up to a certain level, the cells in the population change their behavior. The specifics of this change depend on the species and the situation.

But since this chemical signal is released into the environment, anything around that can sense it can listen in on the communications of a bacterial population. In this study, Justin Silpe and Dr. Bonnie Bassler find a type of virus that uses such a chemical communication as a signal to come out of stasis and hijack a whole population of bacteria at once!

News discussed

Biologists turn eavesdropping viruses into bacterial assassins

Journal Paper

Other interesting stories

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