Cells communicate in chemical techniques, but those from different kingdoms, such as bacteria and yeast, speak dialects almost unintelligible to the other. In a new study, researchers describe the first system that permits two unrelated organisms to communicate.
Many cells send and receive chemical signals in nature. This strategy allows bacteria to regulate their behavior, while fungi to mate and human cells to notify each other of threats. Although some studies have examined micro- or nano-scale particles that communicate with one type of cell, however, the possibility of using particles to facilitate communication between two different kingdoms of life has not been explored.
The researchers discovered that silica nanoparticles were loaded with two molecules, one that responds with glucose and another molecule called phleomycin. The signalling system they developed was divided into two phases, which they then tested independently before being placed together. First, the researchers identified the bacteria that converted the lactose into glucose, which they had been genetically modified to do. These techniques could be used to tell cells to turn off certain things and to alter the activity of human immune cells in order to treat disease.