Tag Archives: MIT News

MIT scientists discovered an amazing amount of diversity among a population of marine microbes living in a few drops of water. Each subpopulation of the marine microbe Prochlorococcus is characterized by a shared genomic "backbone." The figurative backbones are depicted in this artist's rendering.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live in the oceans, forming the base of the marine food chain and occupying a range of ecological niches based on temperature, light and chemical preferences, and interactions with other species. But the full extent and characteristics of diversity within this single species remains a puzzle. Continue reading

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For the Good of the Colony

For some microbes, the motto for growth is not so much “every cell for itself,” but rather, “all for one and one for all.”

MIT researchers have found that cells in a bacterial colony grow in a way that benefits the community as a whole. That is, while an individual cell may divide in the presence of plentiful resources to benefit itself, when a cell is a member of a larger colony, it may choose instead to grow in a more cooperative fashion, increasing an entire colony’s chance of survival.

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