symbiosis

Oscillator

Tag archives for symbiosis

Symbiosis is everywhere. From the Greek for “living with,” symbiosis is simply a close association between two different species in nature. These relationships can be mutualistic, parasitic, or somewhere in between. Bacterial symbionts live inside bodies, like the bacteria that help us and other animals digest our food, and they live inside cells, like the…

Truth Stranger Than Fiction

Yesterday I mentioned Symbiotic Households, an art project imagining genetically engineered mosquitoes that provide mood stabilizing compounds to a population plagued by worries caused by climate change. Today on twitter I saw a link to a US patent application filed by Microsoft about engineering parasites to monitor and maintain human health. The possible engineered parasites…

Bacterial Lightbulb

This year’s Cambridge iGEM team has made a tiny, wireless lightbulb filled with bioluminescent bacteria! There are two main ways of engineering luminescence in E. coli (I assume these are E. coli, correct me if I’m wrong!). One is to express the luciferase gene from fireflies, which adds ATP and oxygen to the chemical luciferin,…

Edible Symbiosis

A delightful lunch conversation about fruits introduced me to what may be my new favorite symbiotic relationship! Figs are not actually fruits but a mass of inverted flowers and seeds that are pollinated by a species of tiny symbiotic wasps. The male fig flower is the only place where the female wasp can lay her…

The Results! Part 2

The past few days I’ve been learning a lot about the bacteria that surround me and realizing just how labor intensive an actually well-controlled handwashing experiment can be! Here is a little bit more of the data I’ve collected about bacteria on everyday objects: Dusty corners (unsurprisingly?) have the most bacteria, followed by chewed gum,…

Bacterial Buddies

Commenter JohnV asked me whether I had let any of my silkworms crawl on an LB plate (what microbiologists use to grow colonies of bacteria) to see what kind of bacteria is living on them in case I ever suffer from catastrophic experiment contamination. I hadn’t thought of what kind of bacteria could be living…

My two great thesis project loves are hydrogen and symbiosis, and as such, the recent news of a multicellular organism that lives in a completely oxygen free environment and gets its energy from hydrogenosomes instead of mitochondria is totally fascinating. Hydrogenosomes are organelles that are evolutionarily related to mitochondria. Mitochondria generate energy for the cell…

Bacterial “Organelles”

Animal cells are made up of many smaller membrane-bound compartments called organelles that perform highly specialized functions necessary for life. Incredibly, several of these organelles have been shown to be evolutionarily related to free-living bacteria, captured and incorporated inside a larger cell billions of years ago in a complex mutually beneficial relationship, known as endosymbiosis…

Cooperation and altruism are widespread in biology, from molecules and genes working together in a cell, to bacterial communities that require coordinated behavior to survive in a tough environment, to human relationships and societies. Our human cultural perspective (perhaps even more specifically our American cultural perspective, focused as it is on individuality, free markets, and…

Solar Powered Leaves That Crawl

I am kind of obsessed with symbiosis and the idea that cooperation between different species can be a driver of evolutionary change. I learned about these symbiotic green sea slugs a while back from a colleague whose mom is a zoologist who studies the evolution of symbiosis between invertebrates and photosynthetic microorganisms. A review article…