The Web of Life (36-5-1) Work Uniform

 Work Uniform

Blue light is most prevalent in the open oceans, as it penetrates into deep waters — whereas in warm equatorial and coastal waters there is more green light, and in estuaries the light is often red. ~ David Scanlan

Cyanobacteria live off the light: converting sunshine into usable energy. These primary producers are the base of the ocean’s food web – upon their productive fecundity life in the ocean depends.

Synechococcus is one such photosynthesizer, widely found in well-lit waters of the tropical to temperate oceans. These picoplankton don’t just sit around sunning themselves. Synechococcus get into uniform to work: changing their pigmentation to match light frequency, to soak up as much energy as possible.

Synechococcus are planktonic ‘chameleons’: dynamically changing their pigment with the ambient light colour. ~ David Scanlan

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A bacterial cell that’s growing is also constantly shedding parts of its cell wall, similar to how a snake sheds its skin every so often. ~ Chinese American bioengineer Casey Huang

Sometimes losing the work uniform is the only way to survive. Infectious bacteria are subject to attack by host cells, which recognize the invaders by their coat: recognizable portions of the bacterial cell wall. To dodge detection, these bacteria rid themselves of their recognizable cell walls, thereby going undercover as dormant shapeless blobs. Once the coast looks clear, a shape-shifting bacterium rebuilds its cell wall in a process termed reversion.

Many antibiotics, including penicillin, target the cell wall. Having got a sample of an antibiotic, which is ineffective when the cell wall is down (as the chemical has nothing to latch onto), a bacterium analyzes the antibiotic compound to figure a way to thwart it if it reappears. This is one way that antibiotic resistance develops.