The earliest life forms on our planet may have been more animal-like than the science previously believed. A new research has confirmed the evidence that bacteria have the ability to thrive as an embryo. An ancient bacteria that became the first forms of life on our planet, could have the same quality. When they unite, they secrete a slimy formation, with the help of which they protect their common conditional home.
As it developed, such a dense colony became known as a biofilm. A colony of microorganisms is actually more powerful than it might seem at the first glance. To protect itself from the effects of the external environment, such a biological environment has a common collective memory, and thus behaves like a single multicellular organism.
An international group of researchers is studying its features. A geneticist Momir Futo of the Rujer Boskovic Institute in Croatia discovered that the biofilm develops as a multicellular organism, incorporating programmed cell death and self-knowledge into its processes. In the laboratory, the scientists examined the bacterium Bacillus subtilis.
They were able to plot gene expression across the entire biofilm as it grew and developed over the course of two months, from the initial cells to their adulthood. The scientists have also traced the gene products of bacteria, comparing them with those of other bacteria, revealing evolutionary relationships.
As it turned out, evolutionarily young genes were expressed at late stages of biofilm growth. The geneticists believe that the order of gene expression during biofilm growth somehow reflects the timing of gene development in the same way as gene expression in developing animal embryos.
And it is not the only way to simulate the development of an animal embryo. It was also observed as a significant enhancement of communication between the cells in the middle of embryonic development.
The conclusion of the scientists is that bacteria are complex multicellular organisms, which in their structure are similar to the cellular development of not only animals, but also humans.