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Chapter 8 : Bacteria Battling for Survival
For bacteria, survival means weathering periods when no food is available—which is the majority of the time—and reproducing when conditions permit. Rapidly growing bacteria typically form large colonies within a day or two, while weeks are required before some of the small colonies formed by slow-growing bacteria are visible. Research from the author’s laboratory group supports a model for trade-offs in the central flow of information in cells the translation of RNA into protein by ribosomes. This is where cells spend the majority of their energy, linking amino acids together to form a functional protein. And so if there is selection for efficient energy utilization, it makes sense for selection to act on the ribosome. The author found basic difference in the rate at which ribosomes synthesize protein. The rapidly growing bacteria synthesize proteins much faster, but they appear to do so less efficiently. This offers the prospect of a fundamental mechanism that could help explain the distribution of microbes in natural and managed ecosystems. Although it was not immediately obvious how Charles Darwin’s ideas would apply to the microbial world, we are beginning to understand some basic differences in microbes and how the environment may select for survival of the fittest—even in the world of single-celled organisms.