Our CEO’s perspective on microorganisms continues. While we wait for the next one, read the article below:
For those without a scientific background, the word “molecule” might seem to be an abstract concept: something so small that we cannot see it, and it is likely irrelevant in everyday life. But, many interactions in nature are based on the recognition of molecules. For example, plants make brightly colored molecules to attract pollinators, or use bitter-tasting ones to deter herbivores. Animals, from insects to mammals, recognize their kin by “seeing” molecules.
Indeed, two of our own five senses, smell and taste, are essentially based on recognizing molecules that enter our nostrils or mouths. These two senses are probably not used as much as they could be: it is easier to read the ingredients in a packaged food than to establish by smell and taste what it contains! However, with adequate training, people can learn how to recognize certain types of molecules: think about connoisseurs of wine, honey or perfumes.
It is probably safe to say that important interactions of all living creatures with their environment involve sensing molecules. Do microorganisms make molecules? Of course, and they make lots of them! After all, they are the oldest living organisms on the planet and have learned how to make molecules over the course of a few billion years of practice. Microorganisms use molecules to interact with their own kind, to fend off competitors, to establish beneficial relationships with other living beings and for other reasons we do not yet know. In the environment, microorganisms live in a “molecular world” and need to make the best of it.