As the year comes to a close, the TED community is busy as ever. Below, a few highlights. Plant-robot hybrids are here. At the MIT Media Lab, researchers Pattie Maes and Harpreet Sareen have developed a new kind of “cybernetic lifeform”: a cyborg plant called Elowan that marries organic and digital technologies. Elowan’s robotic half […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
In 2002, bearing her microscope on a microbe that lives in the gut of fish, Bonnie Bassler isolated an elusive molecule called AI-2, and uncovered the mechanism behind mysterious behavior called quorum sensing -- or bacterial communication. She showed that bacterial chatter is hardly exceptional or anomolous behavior, as was once thought -- and in fact, most bacteria do it, and most do it all the time. (She calls the signaling molecules "bacterial Esperanto.")
The discovery shows how cell populations use chemical powwows to stage attacks, evade immune systems and forge slimy defenses called biofilms. For that, she's won a MacArthur "genius" grant -- and is giving new hope to frustrated pharmacos seeking new weapons against drug-resistant superbugs.
Bassler teaches molecular biology at Princeton, where she continues her years-long study of V. harveyi, one such social microbe that is mainly responsible for glow-in-the-dark sushi. She also teaches aerobics at the YMCA.
What others say
“She's really the one who's shown that this is something that all these bacteria are doing all the time. And if we want to understand them, we have to understand quorum sensing.” — Ned Wingreen, Princeton, on Nova ScienceNOW
Bonnie Bassler’s TED talk
More news and ideas from Bonnie Bassler
Progress for “the blue heart of the planet” and a plan to de-extinct a kayak: A recap of “Planet Dearth,” All-Stars Session 1 at TED2014
By Liz Jacobs and Kate Torgovnick Are we on the brink of a resource crisis? All signs point to yes. As the human population grows, the planet is buckling under the pressure of our needs. In this inaugural All-Stars session, 11 classic TED speakers return to the stage to share their deep concern for preserving […]Continue reading
We love your comments here at TED, and often what our community has to say is as interesting as the talk or post itself. The clever quips, the personal revelations and the hot debates don’t go unnoticed — we read every one. A few of our favorite comments this week: On our home page makeover: […]Continue reading