Bacteria crawl into your mouth like caterpillars

Bacteria crawl into your mouth like caterpillars

Caterpillar-like bacteria can spread in your mouth, a study involving the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) made public on Tuesday.

Like humans, bacteria are constantly evolving. So, to do their job better, the “Neisseriaceae” bacteria, which usually look like wide-splitting rods, have found another way to multiply.

“During evolution, by reworking the processes of elongation and division, the shape of the cells changed, perhaps to adapt to the oral cavity,” noted Professor Frédéric Verrier, bacterial geologist at INRS.

Actually sticking to the mouth, these bacteria attach to each other before splitting longitudinally. At the end of this cell division, they join together to form caterpillar-like filaments.

‘Multicellularity enables cooperation between cells, for example in the form of division of labour, and therefore helps bacteria survive nutrient stress,’ explained the research team.

A joint study by the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) and the University of Vienna sought to show how and why bacteria carry out this cell remodeling.

“In addition to helping us understand the evolution of cell shape, multicellular Neisseriaceae are useful for studying how bacteria have learned to live on the surface of the oral cavities of animals, the only place so far discovered. In fact, half of us have it in our mouths,” explained Professor Silvia Bulgeresi, an expert in environmental cell biology at the University of Vienna.

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