Bacteria communicate to play the 'Prisoner's Dilemma' game in deciding their fate
When faced with life-or-death situations, bacteria use a sophisticated version of ‘game theory’ to consider their options and decide on a course of action, scientists reported at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. José Onuchic, who headed the research team, said these insights into how bacteria communicate among themselves -- information about cell stress, colony density and the stress status and inclinations of neighboring cells -- could have many medical applications. "Using this form of cell-to-cell communication, colonies of ... bacteria can literally reach a consensus on actions that impact people," Onuchic explained. "Bacteria that previously existed harmlessly on the skin, for instance, may exchange chemical signals and reach a consensus that their numbers are large enough to start an infection. Likewise, bacteria may decide to band together into communities called biofilms that make numerous chronic diseases difficult to treat ..."