Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Bacteria Have Ability to 'See,' Eye-Opening Study Finds


by Maggie Fox
Feb. 9, 2016

Bacteria can see, using their entire one-celled selves as a tiny camera lens to focus light, researchers reported Tuesday.

The ability goes beyond just a vague sense of where the light is, and allows the one-celled organisms to find just the right spot, the team reported in the journal eLife.


"Spherical cyanobacteria are probably the world's smallest and oldest example of a camera eye."

They calculate that the bacteria can focus much like a human eye, although the image would be much blurrier.

"Our observation that bacteria are optical objects is pretty obvious with hindsight, but we never thought of it until we saw it," Mullineaux said.

"And no one else noticed it before either, despite the fact that scientists have been looking at bacteria under microscopes for the last 340 years."

Other bacteria probably do it, too, the researchers added.

Genome entrepreneur Craig Venter reported in 2004 that he had found genes in oceanic bacteria that are similar to the genes that control vision in people.

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