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Bacteria are able to see the world like we do

Posted on Wednesday, 10 February, 2016 | Comment icon 6 comments

Bacteria can turn their whole body in to a camera-like lens. Image Credit: NCI/NIH
Scientists have revealed that bacteria are not that dissimilar to us when it comes to sensing light.
These microscopic organisms, which can be found absolutely everywhere, have remained at the center of a scientific mystery spanning over 300 years - how does an organism that relies on sunlight to survive know where to look if it doesn't have any eyes ?

The answer, as it turns out, is that bacteria are able to see by turning their entire body in to a camera-like lens which is capable of focusing sunlight on to a particular spot.

The discovery ties in with previous observations demonstrating that bacteria can pin-point the position of a light source and orient themselves towards it.

"The idea that bacteria can see their world in basically the same way that we do is pretty exciting," said lead researcher Professor Conrad Mullineaux. "Our observation that bacteria are optical objects is pretty obvious with hindsight, but we never thought of it until we saw it."

"And no-one else noticed it before either, despite the fact that scientists have been looking at bacteria under microscopes for the last 340 years."

Source: Belfast Telegraph | Comments (6)

Tags: Bacteria

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by GreenmansGod on 10 February, 2016, 13:22
Wow, that is interesting.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Lucas Cooper Merrin on 10 February, 2016, 13:33
I cant help but think that this is 99.9% assumptions and guesswork
Comment icon #3 Posted by questionmark on 10 February, 2016, 14:20
sensing light certainly is not equal to seeing, that requires much more complex actions than what a unicellular being can muster. So we have a headline written by the intern again, who will get a letter of recommendation saying that he/she has a great future... but sadly not in journalism.
Comment icon #4 Posted by questionmark on 10 February, 2016, 14:22
I cant help but think that this is 99.9% assumptions and guesswork Sensing light is about right, as many bacteria that can move on their own do so to protect themselves from direct sunlight as that would destroy them really fast.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Max A. on 10 February, 2016, 14:52
Great, now I feel uncomfortable getting my old boy out to take a whiz
Comment icon #6 Posted by Realm of Unknown on 10 February, 2016, 16:31
Pretty neat, though I think the whole light thing was pretty known to begin with.. I think the article's title is a little misleading, but still a really cool discovery on science's behalf.

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