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Title:Mixed Signals
Author(s):Cassidy, Keith
Contributor(s):Schulten, Klaus
Abstract:The ability of all living things to sense, interpret, and respond to environmental signals is central to life. Animals, such as ourselves, have exquisite organs including eyes and ears for taking in information and a brain for processing it all and directing movements. Bacteria, though not in possession of such structures, have nevertheless evolved sophisticated protein networks, which they use to survey the environment and make decisions. Serving as a type of bacterial brain, the chemoreceptor array (shown) is a remarkably ordered supramolecular protein complex, which not only detects chemicals in the environment, but also processes this information to determine swimming behavior. Hence, bacteria are able to swim towards things they like, such as food, and away from things they don't. My research aims to understand, at the molecular level, how this amazing biological computer works. My image attempts to represent the complexity and restlessness of the many amorphous environments in which these minute organisms, the oldest and most numerous inhabitants of our planet, live. What is life like at this scale? As one looks at the image, it is literally through the eyes, or perhaps more accurately, the nose of a bacterium that one perceives these mixed signals.
Issue Date:2014-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Keith Cassidy
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-13

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