Israeli study rates "bacteria social-IQ score"

09:46, January 25, 2011      

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Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) say they have come up with an "IQ" test for rating how clever bacteria are in exploiting "social intelligence. "

The idea behind the study is to use a so-called "bacterial social-IQ score" rating system to devise new antibiotics and more efficient bacteria-based "green" pesticides for the agricultural industry, according to a TAU press release sent to Xinhua on Monday.

"To better exploit their capabilities and to outsmart pathogenic bacteria, we must realize their social intelligence," said Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU's Department of Physics and Astronomy.

"Bacteria are our worst enemies, but they can also be our best friends," said Ben-Eshel, who heads the international team, which includes researchers from Holland, India and Russia.

Apparently, various strains of bacteria are able to work together in order to communicate and grow.

It turns out that bacteria are not solitary organisms as once thought, but actually communicate, evolve and process information about their surroundings. As well, they are able to make collective decisions and take defensive and offensive actions against competing agents, such as antibiotics.

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