Microbiology

Some Bacteria Smell ER have a Sense of Smell



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As if humans have too little to worry about, a convocation of mirobioligists recently published data indicating that some bacteria possess the facility of olfaction. Bacteria have long been held responsible, in olfactory terms, for creating a multitude of malodorous bouquets. Some of the more horrible stenches known to noses originate from bacterial activity. The miniscule but nevertheless mighty stinkers crop up everywhere to offend the human nostril with unpleasant redolent fragrances.

Now scientists have unearthed a strain of bacteria that has the ability to smell out sources of nutrient. Unbeknownst to the average person, these bacteria, so say the laboratory guys, can detect the presence of amonia. Now it just so happens that amonia contains nitrogen from which proteins and nucleic acids spring. These bacteria not only have an acute sense of smell, they know good eats when they detect it, just like the truck driver honing in on a great roadside hamburger joint. Well, it stands to reason that the bacteria having the greatest ability to detect a vital nutrient source would have a leg up on other microorganisms. Talk about survival of the fittest! Follow that truck driver!

The researchers claim the discovery an accidental serendipity byproduct of other investigations, which may let them off the hook should anyone question their conclusions. They maintain the studies were designed to determine how bacteria produce a substance known in scientific circles as biofilm. Some bacteria colonies produce this slimy substance (leave it up to bacteria!) to enable them to stick to each other and glue themselves to convenient surfaces while waiting to waylay passing nutrients. It takes little imagination to hear the microbic proclamation: "The bacteria that glue together chew together." (Okay okay, as far as scientific research can say, bacteria do not have teeth! Yet.) Anyway, while spying on these biofilm-producing organisms, the scientists stumbled upon the group that could smell out amonia and forthwith published learned papers on their findings.

Well, there you have it. Some strains of bacteria have a sense of smell by which they can detect the presence of amonia. Good for them. In the meantime, the greatest concern amongst most humanoids has to do with the rotten smell those no-seeums produce, especially certain body odors that can cause extreme embarrassment in confined quarters.

On a lighter note, one imagines the hard-working scientist explaining to his wife that the foot odor she complains about comes from bacterial acitivity. "Bacteria, macteria!" he hears. "Either you wash your stinking feet or you and your bacteria can sleep on the couch!"

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/olfaction
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nature.com/news/2010/100816/full/news.2010.411.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://suite101.com/article/olfaction-in-bacteria-sensing-other-species-through-smell-a374869