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Bacterial Colonies Under Stress

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Bacteria find strength in numbers, especially when times are tough. Faced with the prospect of death by starvation or antibiotics, colonies of bacteria form new patterns that help them cope with stressful environments. By studying these patterns, researchers have learned that cells throughout a colony communicate with each other. Some species use chemical and genetic signals to “redesign” their genes and resist antibiotics.

The images below illustrate the complex behavior and cooperative interactions between bacterial cells among microbes such as Paenibacillus dendritiformis and Paenibacillus vortex. Researchers at the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University, Israel, created the images.

Bacterial colonies of P. dendritiformis and P. vortex under stress. Some of the images were subject to computerized image processing.

More images of bacterial colonies can be viewed here.

Birgit Reinert

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