"Bacillus subtilis" by Allon Weiner / Public Domain

The very first forms of life may have been more animal-like than we ever realized

Oct 20, 2020

By Tessa Koumoundouros

Early life may have been far more like animals than we thought, suggests new research that shows bacteria can ‘develop’ like an embryo.

When bacteria band together, they ooze out a protective communal home of slime to form thriving, densely packed colonies known as biofilms. Together these teeny organisms are more powerful.

Within the safety of the biofilm, they can better withstand environmental changescommunicate long-range to cells outside their communities, and even share a collective memory of sorts – essentially behaving like one multicellular organism.

Now an international team of researchers led by evolutionary geneticist Momir Futo from the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Croatia has discovered biofilms develop like a multicellular organism, too.

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