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[Challenge Topic] Design microbial systems to perform social behaviors

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Posted at 2012-5-3 21:18:10 | All floors |Read mode
It may be interesting to make the bacteria or yeasts to have more communication and behave like social groups. There are some sythetic systems investigating the predator-prey model and altruism behavior. Perhaps more concepts can be learned from society science and be built into  a synthetic biological system. Competition, mutualism and game theory can be taken into consideration.

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Posted at 2012-5-3 22:10:46 | All floors
Yep, I'm also quite interested in the application of game theory to microbials.
Are there some specific questions that you want to find out the answer?
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 Author| Posted at 2012-5-4 17:12:57 | All floors
Reply zhiyuanli Add Thread


I think there are mainly two difficulties: first is to define a social behavior, and the second is to build them into a real micorbial system. There is a nature paper" Snowdrift game dynamics and facultative cheating in yeast" concerning about game theory, but I have not completely read it.   

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Posted at 2012-5-6 16:22:38 | All floors
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      I think the social behaviour is very common in microorganism, such as the resistance to the bad environment. Maybe because it is too difficult to defend itself or do other relatively complex reflex for a single simple bacteria. And there are several known interaction signals  such as LuxI, which will help building the curcuit into real microbial system.  I think what really counts is to think of an interesting function or behavior (such as conditioned reflex in E.coli) which can be realised in the level of population~~
   
   

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Posted at 2012-5-6 18:39:46 | All floors
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Yep. Definition of function is the most important and difficult. In fact, social behavior is not limited to population level. It is also true in a cell level. The world inside a cell is really like a tiny society. Every single molecular behaves like a social member in human society, executing its function to make the cell world better. Also they assemble together to form a compartment just like a group in human world and each group has its specific function.  As to a social behavior, what I am interested is what makes them group together? Is it stochastic or deterministic? One possible explanation in human relation, as we all know, is that people are willing to be friends with those resemble themselves.  Is the mechanism or the concept apply well to all these societies, no matter that of human, microbe or the inner cell?  Some other plausible explanations? I feel there exist a magic power that pulls them together, but I am not sure what it is. It reminds me of pattern formation and the concept of emergency... Is it possible to study on the microbe?
   

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Posted at 2012-5-6 18:53:20 | All floors
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I am also wondering why some microbes are gregarious, while others are not? Can we reverse this behavior?

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Posted at 2012-5-6 21:54:37 | All floors
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    Actually, all these microbial behave "good" only when it is surrounded by its relatives -- these who are genetically similar to themselves so they are basically "one organism". It is very difficult to find out any cases in these single cell organisms that they do benefit to the public without "kin selection ".
     We primate indeed do lots of foolish things, but seems that it is where the "giving without receiving" happens between groups that are genetics separated.  
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Posted at 2012-5-6 23:49:11 | All floors
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       Maybe there is a balance inside cells. That is when the cell measures the cost to execuate a function is too high for itself, the cells wil tend to be gregarious and have cooperation to lower each cell's cost. Just like  the win-win-win (all win) stratagy. But how do they achieve such a balance? And what's the evaluation system exactly? I think it of great significance to elucidate them~~

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Posted at 2012-5-7 13:32:40 | All floors
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     That's true, and I think it also may be interesting to use microbial systems and microfluildic systems to study the dynamic properties of epidemic spreading.

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Posted at 2012-5-7 16:28:20 | All floors
Reply YuanYuan Add ThreadThe Peking iGEM 2009 team had built a gene circuit in E. coli to function like the behavior of classical conditional reflex(Pavlov). It is interesting to simulate this behavior in single E.coli based on the combination of different logic gates. I think more complex behavior may be build on the population level.


   

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 Author| Posted at 2012-5-8 11:49:05 | All floors
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Yep. Definition of function is the most important and difficult. In fact, social behavior is ...
QX_Cai replied at 2012-5-6 18:39

It is great ideas. How to form a stable group or network that functions well is a basic question in systems biology, and so is in ecology and evolution. Perhaps after some kind of abstraction and good definition, this problem can be addressed in one term: self-organization. Moleculars in a cell, individuals in a group, person-person communication in society, all these examples face one question, how can they be stable and what is the principle they obey.
From the sense of ecology, the function can be defined well, which is just a larger fitness. Perhaps there exists design principles.

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 Author| Posted at 2012-5-8 11:52:42 | All floors
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        Maybe there is a balance inside cells. That is when the cell measures the cost to e ...
YuanYuan replied at 2012-5-6 23:49

I think we can build a system which cells can survive only when they have each other in the culture and in a proper proportion. For instance, each of them can produce some kind of small moleculars that can be used for all cells to persist with some antibiotic.

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Posted at 2012-5-8 14:48:30 | All floors
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   I truly dout the scientific meaning of such job....it's interesting indeed...then what?
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Posted at 2012-5-9 21:37:04 | All floors
does scientific researches have to be meaningful?

However, social behavior is hard to investigate in higher animals. In microbes which are uneasy to distinguish and manipulate individually, it will be a terrific task.

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 Author| Posted at 2012-5-10 16:04:08 | All floors
Reply Fleo Add Thread

Yes, the number of individuals in a micobial system is too much larger than a real population. So this system can be used to study the steady state in the  limitation of large population. It is very possible that some social behaviors depend on the pertubations or local interactions of the group, so the synthetic microbial system can be a control of the real system. This way can be viewed as some kind of real model of the social system, but in a larger population. Differences betweet the model and the real system can give rise to what really matters to the social behavior.
   

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Posted at 2012-5-14 17:44:57 | All floors
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   I think this is a great topic too, because the biofilm formation is receiving increased attention in recent years for its relevance for bacterial infections. Though i don't know much about the mechanism inside this process, it is a bacteria society we discussed here, and maybe there is some self-organization.

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Posted at 2012-5-15 16:39:40 | All floors
this reminds me of the origin of multicellular organism~
the increased communication & social behaviour among single cellular individuals of the same species might give rise to the first multicellular one.
the meaning of such study can be as insignificant as "just for fun", however, it can also be magnificent, in my opinion.
what if we build a new multicellular organism from some single ones?! it will be such an exciting & marvelous job, though it's a little difficult ……
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Posted at 2012-5-15 17:14:40 | All floors
u got some references?@yscao
is there anyone who used to do such researh to build a multicellular organism by artificially increase the communication& coorperation among monocellular cells?
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Posted at 2012-5-15 23:11:51 | All floors
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   Hi, if you want this to be one of the topics in the team challenge, it's the time to start to focus on what kind of specific goal we can finish in 4 days
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Posted at 2012-5-15 23:28:08 | All floors
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I think it requires an environment that the public good is limited only to nearby neighbors, and nearby neighbors always has higher genetic similarities than the distant ones. Then the problem is how to construct such an environment
   
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