Bacteria use 'sophisticated language' to communicate

Biochemist Natalia Sandetskaya places bacteria onto a petri dish at the Frauenhof Institute for Cell Therapy, 2013. Credit: PA/Peter Endig

Common bacteria found in water and soil talk to each other using language in much the same way as we do, scientists have discovered.

The bugs display a level of "combinatorial" communication previously thought to be unique to humans and certain other primates, which involves using two signals together to transmit a message that is distinct from them both.

Until now this type of communication had only been observed in humans and their closest relatives. However, the study published in the Public Library Of Science ONE found that the Psuedomonas aeruginosa microbe is similarly capable using chemicals instead of words.