TED2009 minutes from Ethan Zuckerman: Bonnie Bassler on bacteria communicating

Posted by:


Ethan Zuckerman is liveblogging TED2009, posting on all the great moments as they happen. His newest entry is on the talk given by molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler, who explains that bacteria communicate. Here’s a little of what Ethan had to say:

“But here’s what’s really cool – bacteria talk to each other. They can conspire and cooperate.

She’s studied a bioluminescent bacteria called Vibrio Fischeri. In loose concentrations, the bacteria doesn’t glow – tightly packed, it does. The reason is that the bacteria emits a chemical signal – if the cell density is high enough, the molecules can sense each other and know to glow in synchrony.”

Ethan also has updates on all of this morning’s other speakers. His post on Thelma Golden, executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, speaks to her experience of a life spent curating and studying art. He has blogged on Jennifer Mather and her theory on octopus intelligence., as well as Nalini Nadkarni and her fight for the trees. There’s also a piece on Nathan Wolfe, virus hunter, and his work on catching viruses before they can reach us.

All in a morning’s work.

Photo: TED / Asa Mathat