Bacterial electrical communication (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, September 08, 2017, 21:37 (43 days ago)

More than chemical quorum sensing, bacterial colonies use electrical impulses to spread messages:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/bacteria-use-brainlike-bursts-of-electricity-to-communic...

"The preferred form of community for bacteria seems to be the biofilm. On teeth, on pipes, on rocks and in the ocean, microbes glom together by the billions and build sticky organic superstructures around themselves. In these films, bacteria can divide labor: Exterior cells may fend off threats, while interior cells produce food. And like humans, who have succeeded in large part by cooperating with each other, bacteria thrive in communities.

***

"Biofilms appear to use electrically charged particles to organize and synchronize activities across large expanses. This electrical exchange has proved so powerful that biofilms even use it to recruit new bacteria from their surroundings, and to negotiate with neighboring biofilms for their mutual well-being.

***

"Süel knew that bacteria also pump ions across their membranes, and several recent papers had reported spikes of electrical activity in bacteria that at least loosely resembled those found in the brain. Could bacteria also be using the action-potential mechanism to transmit electrical signals? he wondered.

"He and his colleagues treated biofilms in their lab with fluorescent markers that are activated by potassium and sodium ions, and the potassium marker lit up as ions flowed out of starved cells. When the ions reached nearby cells, those cells also released potassium, refreshing the signal. The signal flowed outward in this way until it reached the biofilm’s edge. And in response to the signal, edge cells stopped dividing until the interior cells could get a meal, after which they stopped releasing potassium.

***

" Like neurons, bacteria apparently use potassium ions to propagate electrical signals, Süel and his colleagues reported in Nature in 2015.

***

"Despite the parallels to neural activity, Süel emphasizes that biofilms are not just like brains. Neural signals, which rely on fast-acting sodium channels in addition to the potassium channels, can zip along at more than 100 meters per second — a speed that is critical for enabling animals to engage in sophisticated, rapid-motion behaviors such as hunting. The potassium waves in Bacillus spread at the comparatively tortoise-like rate of a few millimeters per hour. “Basically, we’re observing a primitive form of action potential in these biofilms,” Süel said. “From a mathematical perspective they’re both exactly the same. It’s just that one is much faster.”

***

"The first answer came earlier this year in a Cell paper, in which they showed that Bacillus bacteria seem to use potassium ions to recruit free-swimming cells to the community. Amazingly, the bacteria attracted not only other Bacillus, but also unrelated species. Bacteria, it seems, may have evolved to live not just in monocultures but in diverse communities.

"A few months later, in Science, Süel’s team showed that by exchanging potassium signals, two Bacillus biofilms can “time-share” nutrients. In these experiments, two bacterial communities took turns eating glutamate, enabling the biofilms to consume the limited nutrients more efficiently.

***

"The difference between quorum sensing and potassium signaling is like the difference between shouting from a mountaintop and making an international phone call.

***

"The findings form “a very interesting piece of work,” said James Shapiro, a bacterial geneticist at the University of Chicago. Shapiro is not afraid of bold hypotheses: He has argued that bacterial colonies might be capable of a form of cognition. But he approaches analogies between neurons and bacteria with caution. The potassium-mediated behaviors Süel has demonstrated so far are simple enough that they don’t require the type of sophisticated circuitry brains have evolved, Shapiro said. “It’s not clear exactly how much information processing is going on.'”

Comment: Using potassium ions is basic in advanced biology. Not surprising an early form is in bacteria. They are the starting point for evolution. Note Shapiro's comment.

Bacterial electrical communication

by dhw, Saturday, September 09, 2017, 10:30 (42 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: (under “bacterial gene fusion”:) A new study finds it helps with survivability and produces new protein:
https://phys.org/news/2017-09-bacteria-genes-fuse-production-proteins.html

DAVID's comment: This study supports Shapiro's work on bacteria manipulating their DNA. It does not explain the underlying mechanism which I think is existing informational instructions in the genome.

"Existing informational instructions in the genome" is a fine-sounding piece of science-speak, but if we translate it into terms of Turellian theory, it actually means you believe the mechanism is a form of computer programme that your God planted in cells 3.8 billion years ago. This passed on every single innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder, including bacteria automatically and unknowingly switching on the right part of their own special programme whenever a new problem arose, presumably for the whole of life's history past, present and future. That doesn’t sound quite so scientific, does it? Shapiro on the other hand, who has done all this research and has observed the behaviour of bacteria, is convinced that they are intelligent.

QUOTE: Shapiro is not afraid of bold hypotheses: He has argued that bacterial colonies might be capable of a form of cognition. But he approaches analogies between neurons and bacteria with caution. The potassium-mediated behaviors Süel has demonstrated so far are simple enough that they don’t require the type of sophisticated circuitry brains have evolved, Shapiro said. “It’s not clear exactly how much information processing is going on.'”

DAVID’s comment: Using potassium ions is basic in advanced biology. Not surprising an early form is in bacteria. They are the starting point for evolution. Note Shapiro's comment.

He has argued that bacterial colonies ARE capable of a form of cognition, and anyone who rejects that does so out of “large organisms chauvinism”, but of course that doesn’t mean cognition on a human scale, and it can never be clear just to what EXTENT bacteria are intelligent, since we can’t enter their minds.

Bacterial electrical communication

by David Turell @, Saturday, September 09, 2017, 14:33 (42 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID's comment: This study supports Shapiro's work on bacteria manipulating their DNA. It does not explain the underlying mechanism which I think is existing informational instructions in the genome.

dhw: "Existing informational instructions in the genome" is a fine-sounding piece of science-speak, but if we translate it into terms of Turellian theory, it actually means you believe the mechanism is a form of computer programme that your God planted in cells 3.8 billion years ago. This passed on every single innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder, including bacteria automatically and unknowingly switching on the right part of their own special programme whenever a new problem arose, presumably for the whole of life's history past, present and future. That doesn’t sound quite so scientific, does it? Shapiro on the other hand, who has done all this research and has observed the behaviour of bacteria, is convinced that they are intelligent.

He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!


QUOTE: Shapiro is not afraid of bold hypotheses: He has argued that bacterial colonies might be capable of a form of cognition. But he approaches analogies between neurons and bacteria with caution. The potassium-mediated behaviors Süel has demonstrated so far are simple enough that they don’t require the type of sophisticated circuitry brains have evolved, Shapiro said. “It’s not clear exactly how much information processing is going on.'” [/b]

My bolds point to Shapiro's uncertainty.


DAVID’s comment: Using potassium ions is basic in advanced biology. Not surprising an early form is in bacteria. They are the starting point for evolution. Note Shapiro's comment.

dhw: He has argued that bacterial colonies ARE capable of a form of cognition, and anyone who rejects that does so out of “large organisms chauvinism”, but of course that doesn’t mean cognition on a human scale, and it can never be clear just to what EXTENT bacteria are intelligent, since we can’t enter their minds.

Yes, it is not clear.

Bacterial electrical communication

by dhw, Sunday, September 10, 2017, 13:43 (41 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID's comment: This study supports Shapiro's work on bacteria manipulating their DNA. It does not explain the underlying mechanism which I think is existing informational instructions in the genome.

dhw: "Existing informational instructions in the genome" is a fine-sounding piece of science-speak, but if we translate it into terms of Turellian theory, it actually means you believe the mechanism is a form of computer programme that your God planted in cells 3.8 billion years ago. This passed on every single innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder, including bacteria automatically and unknowingly switching on the right part of their own special programme whenever a new problem arose, presumably for the whole of life's history past, present and future. That doesn’t sound quite so scientific, does it? Shapiro on the other hand, who has done all this research and has observed the behaviour of bacteria, is convinced that they are intelligent.

DAVID: He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!

One can only judge intelligence by outward behaviour. You might as well argue (as some determinists do) that we are also robots.

QUOTE: Shapiro said. “It’s not clear exactly how much information processing is going on.'” [/b]

DAVID: My bolds point to Shapiro's uncertainty.

His uncertainty concerns the degree. I pointed that out in my next comment:
dhw: He has argued that bacterial colonies ARE capable of a form of cognition, and anyone who rejects that does so out of “large organisms chauvinism”, but of course that doesn’t mean cognition on a human scale, and it can never be clear just to what EXTENT bacteria are intelligent, since we can’t enter their minds.

DAVID: Yes, it is not clear.

So I hope it is clear to you that Shapiro, who has spent a lifetime studying the subject, believes in bacterial intelligence.

Bacterial electrical communication

by David Turell @, Sunday, September 10, 2017, 15:15 (41 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID's comment: This study supports Shapiro's work on bacteria manipulating their DNA. It does not explain the underlying mechanism which I think is existing informational instructions in the genome.

dhw: "Existing informational instructions in the genome" is a fine-sounding piece of science-speak, but if we translate it into terms of Turellian theory, it actually means you believe the mechanism is a form of computer programme that your God planted in cells 3.8 billion years ago. This passed on every single innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder, including bacteria automatically and unknowingly switching on the right part of their own special programme whenever a new problem arose, presumably for the whole of life's history past, present and future. That doesn’t sound quite so scientific, does it? Shapiro on the other hand, who has done all this research and has observed the behaviour of bacteria, is convinced that they are intelligent.

DAVID: He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!

One can only judge intelligence by outward behaviour. You might as well argue (as some determinists do) that we are also robots.

QUOTE: Shapiro said. “It’s not clear exactly how much information processing is going on.'” [/b]

DAVID: My bolds point to Shapiro's uncertainty.

His uncertainty concerns the degree. I pointed that out in my next comment:
dhw: He has argued that bacterial colonies ARE capable of a form of cognition, and anyone who rejects that does so out of “large organisms chauvinism”, but of course that doesn’t mean cognition on a human scale, and it can never be clear just to what EXTENT bacteria are intelligent, since we can’t enter their minds.

DAVID: Yes, it is not clear.

dhw: So I hope it is clear to you that Shapiro, who has spent a lifetime studying the subject, believes in bacterial intelligence.

My comment above still fits the argument:

"DAVID: He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!"

So, of course how they respond implies intelligence underlying those responses. At what level, primary or secondary?

Bacterial electrical communication

by dhw, Monday, September 11, 2017, 13:10 (40 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: So I hope it is clear to you that Shapiro, who has spent a lifetime studying the subject, believes in bacterial intelligence.

DAVID:He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!"
So, of course how they respond implies intelligence underlying those responses. At what level, primary or secondary?

See my final comment below:

DAVID’S comment (under "Ant colony"): Makes good organizational sense. Certainly doing it by instinct at this point. Originally guided by God?

dhw: [...] My speculation would be originally guided by their own intelligence. God may come into it when we ask where their intelligence came from.

DAVID: The other issue is the origin of the different classes of ants to set up their societal arrangement. God again?

dhw: Amazing how your God creates all these variations when his prime purpose is to produce the brain of homo sapiens. I would suggest ant intelligence again. Different species and different classes of species work out their own social arrangements – a talent inherited by us humans.

DAVID: Did the ants invent their own classes of societal level?

Of course. Do you think humans were the first social organisms? Every society from insects to animals, including us, has different levels. Or are you saying that your God has to preprogramme or dabble with every social organism except humans, who follow the same pattern as other social organisms but don’t need God to work it out for them?

DAVID: (under “plant memory”) New research into plant memories:

QUOTE: "In the study of the plant kingdom, a slow revolution is underway. Scientists are beginning to understand that plants have abilities, previously unnoticed and unimagined, that we’ve only ever associated with animals. In their own ways, plants can see, smell, feel, hear, and know where they are in the world. One recent study found that clusters of cells in plant embryos act a lot like brain cells and help the embryo to decide when to start growing

DAVID (comment juxtaposed): He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!

I wonder why you are always so desperate to deny intelligence to organisms that have no brain or only a small brain. These findings present no threat to your God, who would have designed the mechanisms in the first place. They only threaten your theory that he is a control freak who won’t allow any organism (except humans) to work out its own way of life.

Bacterial electrical communication

by David Turell @, Monday, September 11, 2017, 17:43 (40 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: The other issue is the origin of the different classes of ants to set up their societal arrangement. God again?

dhw: Amazing how your God creates all these variations when his prime purpose is to produce the brain of homo sapiens. I would suggest ant intelligence again. Different species and different classes of species work out their own social arrangements – a talent inherited by us humans.

DAVID: Did the ants invent their own classes of societal level?

dhw: Of course. Do you think humans were the first social organisms? Every society from insects to animals, including us, has different levels. Or are you saying that your God has to preprogramme or dabble with every social organism except humans, who follow the same pattern as other social organisms but don’t need God to work it out for them?

Our society is settled at a level where everyone is a being like every other. Ants differ in expression of their genome into different forms of body and activity. Different formation of a society.

DAVID (comment juxtaposed): He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!

dhw: I wonder why you are always so desperate to deny intelligence to organisms that have no brain or only a small brain. These findings present no threat to your God, who would have designed the mechanisms in the first place. They only threaten your theory that he is a control freak who won’t allow any organism (except humans) to work out its own way of life.

Never desperate. No threat to God. My knowledge of biochemistry and biology tell me there are designed epigenetic responses for adaptation.

Bacterial electrical communication

by dhw, Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 12:03 (39 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Did the ants invent their own classes of societal level?

dhw: Of course. Do you think humans were the first social organisms? Every society from insects to animals, including us, has different levels. Or are you saying that your God has to preprogramme or dabble with every social organism except humans, who follow the same pattern as other social organisms but don’t need God to work it out for them?

DAVID: Our society is settled at a level where everyone is a being like every other. Ants differ in expression of their genome into different forms of body and activity. Different formation of a society.

Nobody would claim that ant society and human society are the same! But ants have different societal levels and so do humans. That is the pattern they and other animal societies, including our own, follow. Theirs is tailor-made by them to suit their needs, and so is ours (though theirs works a darn sight more efficiently than ours). Once again, the real question you are raising boils down to the problem discussed below.

DAVID He knows they appear intelligent. I agree. With provided instructions the outward appearance is the same!

dhw: I wonder why you are always so desperate to deny intelligence to organisms that have no brain or only a small brain. These findings present no threat to your God, who would have designed the mechanisms in the first place. They only threaten your theory that he is a control freak who won’t allow any organism (except humans) to work out its own way of life.

DAVID: Never desperate. No threat to God. My knowledge of biochemistry and biology tell me there are designed epigenetic responses for adaptation.

I don’t know how your knowledge of biochemistry and biology can tell you that 3.8 billion years ago a God preprogrammed (or later dabbled) every innovation, lifestyle, and natural wonder, including the activities of plants, bacteria and ants, but he did NOT give them intelligence, even though you point out that there is no way you can tell the difference between intelligent behaviour and programmed behaviour.

Bacterial electrical communication

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 15:16 (39 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Never desperate. No threat to God. My knowledge of biochemistry and biology tell me there are designed epigenetic responses for adaptation.

dhw: I don’t know how your knowledge of biochemistry and biology can tell you that 3.8 billion years ago a God preprogrammed (or later dabbled) every innovation, lifestyle, and natural wonder, including the activities of plants, bacteria and ants, but he did NOT give them intelligence, even though you point out that there is no way you can tell the difference between intelligent behaviour and programmed behaviour.

Looking into cells, one can see that all the processes act automatically as the molecules scurry about and interact. This activity is wildly complex, beyond any possibility of chance formation. It is easy to conceive of a planning mind as the designer of life. I know you can't see it, but lots of us can.

Bacterial electrical communication

by dhw, Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 13:19 (38 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Never desperate. No threat to God. My knowledge of biochemistry and biology tell me there are designed epigenetic responses for adaptation.

dhw: I don’t know how your knowledge of biochemistry and biology can tell you that 3.8 billion years ago a God preprogrammed (or later dabbled) every innovation, lifestyle, and natural wonder, including the activities of plants, bacteria and ants, but he did NOT give them intelligence, even though you point out that there is no way you can tell the difference between intelligent behaviour and programmed behaviour.

DAVID: Looking into cells, one can see that all the processes act automatically as the molecules scurry about and interact. This activity is wildly complex, beyond any possibility of chance formation. It is easy to conceive of a planning mind as the designer of life. I know you can't see it, but lots of us can.

You have said yourself that it is impossible to distinguish between intelligent behaviour and automatic behaviour. Shapiro and others have looked into cells and concluded that their behaviour is intelligent, but you insist that it is automatic. I don’t know why you contrast this with chance formation. The argument is not about how cells acquired their intelligence (it may well be that a god gave it to them) but WHETHER they are intelligent.

Bacterial electrical communication

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 14, 2017, 01:19 (38 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Looking into cells, one can see that all the processes act automatically as the molecules scurry about and interact. This activity is wildly complex, beyond any possibility of chance formation. It is easy to conceive of a planning mind as the designer of life. I know you can't see it, but lots of us can.

dhw: You have said yourself that it is impossible to distinguish between intelligent behaviour and automatic behaviour. Shapiro and others have looked into cells and concluded that their behaviour is intelligent, but you insist that it is automatic. I don’t know why you contrast this with chance formation. The argument is not about how cells acquired their intelligence (it may well be that a god gave it to them) but WHETHER they are intelligent.

The point for me is where did the intelligent information came from. It obviously exists. For me it is evidence for God, especially since I think they act automatically.

Bacterial electrical communication

by dhw, Thursday, September 14, 2017, 13:13 (37 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Looking into cells, one can see that all the processes act automatically as the molecules scurry about and interact. This activity is wildly complex, beyond any possibility of chance formation. It is easy to conceive of a planning mind as the designer of life. I know you can't see it, but lots of us can.

dhw: You have said yourself that it is impossible to distinguish between intelligent behaviour and automatic behaviour. Shapiro and others have looked into cells and concluded that their behaviour is intelligent, but you insist that it is automatic. I don’t know why you contrast this with chance formation. The argument is not about how cells acquired their intelligence (it may well be that a god gave it to them) but WHETHER they are intelligent.

DAVID: The point for me is where did the intelligent information came from. It obviously exists. For me it is evidence for God, especially since I think they act automatically.

It is your interpretation of how evolution works that is under discussion. I have agreed a thousand times that intelligence of whatever kind is evidence for God, and so I put on my theist hat and challenge your hypothesis that your God preprogrammed or dabbled every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder, all for the sake of producing Homo sapiens and his brain. I propose a different hypothesis that does away with all the anomalies and contradictions and illogicalities of your own, but depends on the (God-given?) intelligence of all organisms. I do not expect you to accept it, and I myself accept that there is a question mark over the potential range of cellular intelligence, but I do not expect you to reject it on the grounds that you know more about cells than Shapiro, Margulis, McLintock, Bühler & Co.

Bacterial electrical communication

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 14, 2017, 15:52 (37 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The point for me is where did the intelligent information came from. It obviously exists. For me it is evidence for God, especially since I think they act automatically.

dhw: It is your interpretation of how evolution works that is under discussion. I have agreed a thousand times that intelligence of whatever kind is evidence for God, and so I put on my theist hat and challenge your hypothesis that your God preprogrammed or dabbled every innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder, all for the sake of producing Homo sapiens and his brain. I propose a different hypothesis that does away with all the anomalies and contradictions and illogicalities of your own, but depends on the (God-given?) intelligence of all organisms. I do not expect you to accept it, and I myself accept that there is a question mark over the potential range of cellular intelligence, but I do not expect you to reject it on the grounds that you know more about cells than Shapiro, Margulis, McLintock, Bühler & Co.

I will stick to my position that with my education and training in human biology, I have the right to my own interpretation of their findings and opinions. I know what they have found and I differ with their interpretations, as previously described.

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