Adaptable Decision-Making Found in Bacteria Communities

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Adaptable Decision-Making Found in Bacteria Communities

 

 

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Frames from a simulation of interacting agents moving collectively towards the target: A. Simulation step 200 from starting position. B. Zoom in on the group in the left frame. (Credit: Adi Shklarsh, Gil Ariel, Elad Schneidman, Eshel Ben-Jacob. Smart Swarms of Bacteria-Inspired Agents with Performance Adaptable Interactions. PLoS Computational Biology, 2011; 7 (9): e1002177 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002177)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 17, 2011) — Much to humans' chagrin, bacteria have superior survival skills. Their decision-making processes and collective behaviors allow them to thrive and even spread efficiently in difficult environments.

 

Now researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a computational model that better explains how bacteria move in a swarm -- and this model can be applied to human-made technologies, including computers, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Ph.D. student Adi Shklarsh -- with her supervisor Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU's Sackler School of Physics and Astronomy, Gil Ariel from Bar Ilan University and Elad Schneidman from the Weizmann Institute of Science -- has discovered how bacteria collectively gather information about their environment and find an optimal path to growth, even in the most complex terrains.

Studying the principles of bacteria navigation will allow researchers to design a new generation of smart robots that can form intelligent swarms, aid in the development of medical micro-robots used to diagnose or distribute medications in the body, or "de-code" systems used in social networks and throughout the Internet to gather information on consumer behaviors. The research was recently published inPLoS Computational Biology.

A dash of bacterial self-confidence

Bacteria aren't the only organisms that travel in swarms, says Shklarsh. Fish, bees, and birds also exhibit collective navigation. But as simple organisms with less sophisticated receptors, bacteria are not as well-equipped to deal with large amounts of information or "noise" in the complex environments they navigate, such as human tissue. The assumption has been, she says, that bacteria would be at a disadvantage compared to other swarming organisms.

But in a surprising discovery, the researchers found that computationally, bacteria actually have superior survival tactics, finding "food" and avoiding harm more easily than swarms such as amoeba or fish. Their secret? A liberal amount of self-confidence.

Many animal swarms, Shklarsh explains, can be harmed by "erroneous positive feedback," a common side effect of navigating complex terrains. This occurs when a subgroup of the swarm, based on wrong information, leads the entire group in the wrong direction. But bacteria communicate differently, through molecular, chemical and mechanical means, and can avoid this pitfall.

Based on confidence in their own information and decisions, "bacteria can adjust their interactions with their peers," Prof. Ben-Jacob says. "When an individual bacterium finds a more beneficial path, it pays less attention to the signals from the other cells. But at other times, upon encountering challenging paths, the individual cell will increase its interaction with the other cells and learn from its peers. Since each of the cells adopts the same strategy, the group as a whole is able to find an optimal trajectory in an extremely complex terrain."

Benefitting from short-term memory

In the computer model developed by the TAU researchers, bacteria decreased their peers' influence while navigating in a beneficial direction, but listened to each other when they sensed they were failing. This is not only a superior way to operate, but a simple one as well. Such a model shows how a swarm can perform optimally with only simple computational abilities and short term memory, says Shklarsh, It's also a principle that can be used to design new and more efficient technologies.

Robots are often required to navigate complex environments, such as terrains in space, deep in the sea, or the online world, and communicate their findings among themselves. Currently, this is based on complex algorithms and data structures that use a great deal of computer resources. Understanding the secrets of bacteria swarms, Shklarsh concludes, can provide crucial hints towards the design of new generation robots that are programmed to perform adjustable interactions without taking up a great amount of data or memory.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111117144043.htm

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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How do bacteria think? They

How do bacteria think? They don't have brains like god. ROTF

(he straightens himself after the nun cracks him with a ruler)

Perhaps I am not reading the article correctly. But how can the scientist know these communications are occuring? and how can bacteria learn from other bacteria? Where do they store such memories or analytical skills?

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I understand it when

I understand it when scientists say stuff like " created" or "designed" and in this case "decision making".

No no no no no. This is not like a human deciding between Pizza and broccoli. They cannot "think" like a human does it does not have a human brain. The "decision"s they make are merely reactionary, not cognitive.

 

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Quote:Perhaps I am not

Quote:
Perhaps I am not reading the article correctly. But how can the scientist know these communications are occuring? and how can bacteria learn from other bacteria? Where do they store such memories or analytical skills?

 

Observations?  Who knows?  Bacteria is complex in so many ways; bad, good, neutral, the kind we eat, etc.  The growth pattern of some bacteria is so exponentially large in some strains that a pin sized formation of certain types could cover an entire city in a year or less if left unchecked, but the very nature of the world we live in prevents such a thing from happening a majority of the time.  Bacteria are colonies that usually have one goal; to spread/thrive and, in some cases, achieve symbiosis.  They communicate through that simple principle.  Of course, on this crazy, whacked out ball of dirt we live on, everything we know about certain strains could end up being wrong and one could be much more static or dynamic than we once thought. 

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 Talk about human mind in

 Talk about human mind in bacteria or should we say "Bacteria in intelligent human form".


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ex-minister wrote:How do

ex-minister wrote:

How do bacteria think? They don't have brains like god. ROTF

(he straightens himself after the nun cracks him with a ruler)

Perhaps I am not reading the article correctly. But how can the scientist know these communications are occuring? and how can bacteria learn from other bacteria? Where do they store such memories or analytical skills?

Communication doesn't to be written, verbal, or over the Interwebs.  Ants communicate using pheromones and "ant communication algorithms" are now being used to solve computational problems that were previously considered unsolveable.

Bacteria that "do" these things have a survival advantage.  If there are genetic differences between strains of the same species, some which do this, and some which don't, those genetic differences get passed on and the bacteria that don't, die.  Survival of the fittest, Natural Selection, score one for Darwin.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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Fascinating.

Fascinating.

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I read once

 

 

in the past in the wholly bible of procrastination, Science Daily, that brain cells sing to each other in frequencies around 100Hz. I'll see if I can find the story somewhere. Neurology is surely a lot stranger than we think it is and the next 50 years or so will be really exciting. Personally, I think we are colonies of highly specialised cells, practically all of which communicate in the same way bacteria cells do, through biochemical pathways.  

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Hope you find it. You had

Hope you find it. You had mentioned a book in the past about how we are a collection of parasites. Something like trex-parasites. Could it be something along the lines of Carl Sagan's wifes research? Evolution built up larger organism from smaller ones. When one microbe tried to digest another it become a simbiotic merge. And it continued ... Is that too sci-fi?

Religion Kills !!!

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That book was

 

Carl Zimmer's Parasite Rex. It's an awesome book that did reference symbiotic evolution leading to the development of eukaryote cells, as well as discussing the evolutionary pressure of parasites on life. Cj recommended that book to me, I think. I liked it so much that after loaning it to a friend I bought another. 

Abiogenesis is sci-fi from our perspective. It's still a mystery how it all worked out as it did. Last night I read in New Scientist the hypotheses that at some past point the sea was populated by bacteria that formed a single vast organism made up of non-competing cells which used open architecture-style genomes to trade beneficial mutations between themselves.

This 'creature' subsequently split into 3 to form more complex life forms. The splitting point related to growing levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck