bacterial intelligence: they signal electrically in biofilm (Animals)

by dhw, Saturday, March 17, 2018, 12:18 (460 days ago) @ David Turell

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

QUOTE: "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. (dhw’s bold)

QUOTE: "But Süel and other scientists are now finding that bacteria in biofilms can also talk to one another electrically. 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.” (dhw’s bold)

QUOTE: 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.'” (dhw's bold)

DAVID’s comment: I'm with Shapiro. This activity is certainly managed in some layer of genome control. But it also fits my key point that God uses patterns to develop upon as He conducts the process of evolution. Note my bolded sentences above.

I’m also with Shapiro, who elsewhere is unequivocal in his support for the hypothesis that bacteria are (I don’t know why the article says “might be") cognitive, intelligent beings, which does not mean that their intelligence is anything like that of humans. That is why they don’t require the “sophisticated circuitry” of brains. The article focuses on the material means by which bacteria communicate (just as we humans communicate through materials). But cooperation, recruitment and negotiation are clear indications that the material means are guided by a form of cognition. If God exists, then of course he would have been the designer, and yes indeed, evolution shows clear patterns, which would still be the case if your God allowed the whole process to evolve through organisms’ autonomous use of the mechanisms he had designed.


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