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Featured Scientists

Dr. Bonnie Bassler

Read about Bonnie Bassler, Ph.D., in the October 2004 issue.

Bacterial Geneticist
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ

Bacteria aren’t the silent, asocial creatures biologists once thought. Instead, they use a communications system that allows them to detect when they’ve reached a critical mass and organize for a group attack.

Geneticist Bonnie Bassler studies this phenomenon, which is called quorum sensing. She’s discovered that each strain of bacteria communicates with its own chemical vocabulary but that there’s also a universal language understood across species. By learning to interpret and block these signals, Bassler hopes to thwart the bugs causing ailments from tuberculosis to tooth decay.

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This page last reviewed on July 19, 2011