Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Community Property

Insight into how microbial communities maintain their diversity

08 March 2022

Community Property

A welcoming community accepts that some people are more sociable than others – it seems the same is true for bacteria. Here different species (with genetic tweaks to make them glow in different colours) are thriving together. Their ‘structured’ living environment – a tiny ecosystem full of nooks and crannies – gives them a choice of privacy and society, helping local communities (rounded shapes) to bloom. Using mathematical models, researchers predict designs that allow social bacteria to exchange chemical signals, while others enjoy isolation – the overall community grows in population and diversity. Along with the alarming conclusion that bubble-like crevices in kitchen sponges make ideal bacterial homes, researchers can use these insights to grow vibrant microscopic communities, potentially spotting ways to tackle harmful biofilms in public spaces like hospitals.

Written by John Ankers

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