Bacteria can tell time through internal biological clocks

Bacillus subtilis bacterium sheds light on indoor clocks. Loan Professor oskos Kovács, Technical University of Denmark

People have them, just like any other animal or plant. Studies now show that bacteria also have internal clocks that are in line with the 24-hour life cycle on Earth.

The research answers a long-standing biological question: Can it have implications for drug delivery time, biotechnology, and how we have developed timely crop protection solutions?

Biological clocks or circadian rhythms are subtle mechanisms of time that are widespread in nature, enabling living organisms to cope with major day-to-night changes, even during the seasons.

These molecular rhythms inside cells use external signals, such as daylight և temperature, to synchronize biological clocks into their environment. That is why we feel the incomprehensible effects of reactive deceleration, as our internal clocks are temporarily misaligned until a new cycle of light and darkness enters the destination.

Increasing research over the past two decades has shown that these molecular metronomes can be used for basic processes such as sleep, cognitive activity in humans, and the regulation of water in plants and photosynthesis.

Although bacteria make up 12% of the planet’s biomass – potential for health, ecology, industrial biotechnology – little is known about their 24-hour biological clocks.

Previous studies have shown that photosynthetic bacteria that need light to receive energy have biological clocks. But in this sense, free-living non-photosynthetic bacteria remain a mystery.

In this international study, researchers found free-flowing circadian rhythms in the non-photosynthetic soil Bacillus subtilis.

The team used a technique called luciferase reporting, which involves the addition of a bioluminescence-producing enzyme that allows researchers to visualize how active the gene is inside the body.

They focused on two genes. First, a gene called ytvA, which encodes a photoreporter of blue light; second, an enzyme called KinC, which is involved in the production of biofilms and spores in bacteria.

They observed the level of genes in constant darkness compared to 12 hours of light և 12 hours of dark cycles. They found that the regularity of the ytvA level was adjusted with the light cycle, dark, the levels increase during the darkness և decreases in the light. There was a cycle in the dark all the time.

Researchers have observed how the stable pattern lasted for several days; if the conditions were reversed, the pattern could be reversed. These two observations are common features of circadian rhythms and their ability to “trigger” environmental signals.

They performed similar experiments using daily temperature changes; For example, as the daily cycle intensity or strength increases, t ytvA և kinC rhythms are found to be adjusted to be in line with the circadian rhythms, not just toggle ատ on in response to temperature.

“We first discovered that non-photosynthetic bacteria can tell time,” says Martha Merrow, a professor at the LMU (University of Ludwig Maximilians) in Munich. “They adapt their molecular work to the time of day by reading cycles in light or at room temperature.”

“Apart from medical and environmental issues, we want to use bacteria as an exemplary system to understand the mechanisms of the circadian clock. “The laboratory tools of this bacterium are obvious, they should allow rapid progress,” he added.

This research can be used to help with questions such as: Can Bacterial Exposure Time Be Indicated for Infection? Can industrial biotechnological processes be optimized taking into account the time of day? And it may be time for antibacterial treatment.

“Our study opens the door to studying circadian rhythms through bacteria. “Now that we have established that bacteria can tell the time when we need to figure out what processes these rhythms cause, we need to understand why having a rhythm favors bacteria,” says Dr. Anthony Dodd :

Professor oskos Kovács, co-author of the Danish Technical University, adds that “Bacillus subtilis is used in the production of detergents to protect crops in various applications, in addition to the recent use of humans and animals as probiotics, thus turning the biological clock mechanism into a bacterium.” in different biotechnological areas. “

Reference. “Circadian clock in non-photosynthetic prokaryote” January 8, 2021 Advances in science,
DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abe2086:

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