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February 12, 2002

Biofilms Redux

A while back (a long while back, Internet time) I posted a note to my old weblog about biofilms. Now from Honeyguide, a nice naturalist weblog, I've found this, quoted in it's entirety since I don't want to lose the links, and he doesn't have by-article links:

When bacteria touch down on a surface, they count themselves and start building structures.

I've linked it before, but I still highly recommend this

Science News article, which goes into more detail about how bacteria work together to form "biofilms" on a surface. It mentions a soil bacterium that, when it makes a biofilm, turns off the genes that make the flagellum (the propulsive "tail"). Instead it concentrates on making appendages called pili that help it stick to the surface or move along it -- a different mode of propulsion for a different way of life. Free-swimming bacteria forming biofilms are a bit like humans switching from migratory hunting-and-gathering to living in towns -- only imagine that a few years after moving to a city, we all grew a Segway out of our asses.

Bacteria can work together, they can evolve to resist our poisons, they reproduce hundreds of thousands of times faster than we can, they're invisible to the naked eye, and they have us completely surrounded. It's a good thing some of them are on our side.

Posted by dpwakefield at February 12, 2002 01:41 PM