Bacteria at war

  • Bacteria respond to conflict much the same as humans do – by going to war with the competition – a study published in Current Biology says.
  • Studying pairs of strains of E. coli, the researchers found that each strain used a toxin to poison the other when it came to competing for space.
  • The toxin produced by one strain would not harm its own members but would be toxic to other strains. Hence this behaviour was seen as a war between the two strains.
  • This is used by the bacteria to establish themselves, for example, in the human gut.
  • Members of different strains varied in the intensity of attacking which varied from hyper-aggressive to passive.
  • While this is known in animals, this is the first such study to see such behaviour among bacteria.


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