Presented by Imperial College London

Adam MacLean
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London

Siobhan McMahon
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London

John Pinney
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London

Sarah Fillipi
Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London

Further reading

All living organisms need to find food and respond to dangers in their environment. Bacteria are single-celled organisms: they don’t have brains, but still need to make decisions based on information about their surroundings. Molecular pathways within bacteria are responsible for this process of sensing and responding.

See the scientists explain the science behind their exhibit in the video above, produced by students from Imperial College: Isobel Lawrence, Lucy Leigh-Pemberton

How it works

This exhibit will explore the science of signal transduction, the process that enables living cells to respond to information from the environment around them. The molecules that make up the bacterial sensory system work together to process this information and produce an appropriate response. The pathways constructed by these molecules can intersect and be combined in various ways depending on the situation.

Signal transduction is present in all cells, from bacteria through to human cells, which can be hundreds of times larger. Understanding signal transduction is therefore a fundamental part of understanding how cells work.

Using an integrated approach, we are combining experimental analysis with mathematical and computational modelling to explain and predict the behaviour of different bacteria. With current global health threats such as antibiotic resistant bacteria, we need to understand these cellular processes in order to help devise new methods of fighting bacterial infections.

Lead Image: Staphylococcus aureus bacteria escaping destruction by human white blood cells.