Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Social Networking
03 November 2013

Social Networking

Just as you communicate more regularly with certain friends in your social network, genes also choose with whom they associate. During the myriad biological processes that occur inside this bacterium (pictured as a CGI) – which causes a deadly tropical disease called melioidosis – genes (represented by white dots) 'talk' to each other, creating a vast web of over 60,000 communication channels (represented with grey lines linking individual genes). This complex network shows that clusters of genes (coloured), – like friendship groups – maintain strong communication links and activity patterns during specific tasks, such as energy generation or detoxification. By testing the bacterium's activity in over 80 environments, scientists built a picture of how genetic regulation changes in different conditions. This is not only important for finding ways to treat the illness – with a mortality rate of up to 50 per cent – but can shed light on the shared mechanisms that underlie bacteria adaptation.

Written by Jan Piotrowski

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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