CEXS-UPF: The bacterial origin of neuron communication is discovered

CEXS-UPF: The bacterial origin of neuron communication is discovered

News from CEXS-UPF

One of the main assets of our body is its nervous system. Our thoughts, our intelligence, how we perceive the world through our senses and how we act on it through our muscles, depend on the electrical communication between specialized cells, the neurons. Every millisecond, large amounts of charged atoms (ions) enter and leave our neurons leading to small electrical currents whose propagation allows different parts of the body (especially in the brain) to communicate very efficiently. But, how did this form of cellular communication arise?

To date, electrical communication had only been observed in relatively complex cells, starting with paramecia. But research led by Jordi García Ojalvo, director of the Dynamical Systems Biology lab of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (DCEXS), in close collaboration with Gürol M. Süel, associate professor at the Department of Molecular Biology of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), shows that such simple cells as bacteria use electrical signals to communicate with each other.

More information:

Arthur Prindle, Jintao Liu, Munehiro Asally, San Ly, Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo & Gürol M. Süel. Ion channels enable electrical communication within bacterial communities. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature15709, Octo ber 2015.