Sleeping Microbes

Your thoughts probably have not wander towards that zone, it’s a microscopic world where you care less about, but surprisingly I care, and its my business-career wise.
So, the question is, “do microbes sleep?”.

The term “microbes” can mean a lot of wildly different organisms but lets specifically look at bacteria.

Bacteria lack a central nervous system, so they don’t experience sleep like we do, but some exhibit circadian cycles tuned to the 24-hour day/night cycle, just like plants and animals. The best-known examples are cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, which are aquatic bacteria that, like plants, photosynthesize their own food.

It makes sense that these critters should follow a daily cycle to take advantage of the best time to make food and the best time to run other physiological processes. But how possible can this be?, for any bacteria to exhibit circadian rhythms when their generation time is too short. Bacteria might live and die in less than 24 hours, which makes it seem unlikely that they would synchronize to a 24-hour day. Also, are they as complex and complicated as to require an internal clock?

Interestingly, Researchers in their studies had shown in the mid-eighties that cyanobacteria have such cycles.
More recently, researchers at the Center for Chronobiology at the University of California, San Diego (CCB) have been looking at the process more closely, untangling the expression of specific genes and the way that the circadian cycle controls cell division and metabolism. They have genetically engineered the bacteria to light up at certain times of day. They did this by borrowing the light from fireflies, adding genes from the insects that express an enzyme called luciferase. The genes that control the luciferase activated during different parts of the circadian cycle, providing a bright cue for a process that is otherwise invisible. The light helped the scientists monitor the cyanobacteria clock to figure out when the genes were on and off, and they used both normal cyanobacteria and mutant versions with faulty circadian clocks to help pinpoint which genes were directly responsible for the clock.

These cyanobacteria metabolisms are profoundly influenced by the circadian clock. But what about bacteria that do not photosynthesize their own energy?
It isn’t clear whether these have circadian cycles, but recent research suggests such a clock exists for all major life groups, and some scientists think the rhythms are specifically present in non-photosynthetic bacteria.

I think that now we know they are not i-robot.


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