Microcosm E.coli and the New Science of Life

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Microcosm:E.coliand the New Science of Life

Microcosm:E.coli and the New Science of Lifeby Carl Zimmer

Inthe book, Carl Zimmer explores the critical role of E.colibacteria in all living things in their history, DNA and thecontinuous biological advancements. E.coliis a tiny, rod shaped type of bacteria that has proven to surpass allthreats to its survival by way of building microbial cities as wellas practicing chemical warfare (Zimmer, 2008). An E.colibacterium has sophisticated defense mechanisms that can be comparedto that of human beings. This paper will discuss Zimmer’s insighton E.coliin evolution, energy and growth, communication and its sophisticatedinteractions on biological systems.

AnE.colibacterium has flagellum that plays an important part in the evolutionprocess as well as ecology. It has numerous adaptation strategieswhich have safeguarded its survival for many years, flagellum beingone of them (Zimmer, 2008). E.colibacteria have been seen to survive and retain their multi-cellularstructural set up even after many thousands of years ago. E.colihas provided scientists with innumerable knowledge about the innerworking of a cell, the basic unit of life (Zimmer, 2008).

Consequently,scientists have been able to know how genes function, how they can beregulated and how they coordinate within their subtle networks.Evolution is a natural process that involves gene duplication andmutation that which is present in an E.colibacterium. It is the constant behavioral changes among living thingsand E.colibacterium has proved to possess such adaptations that can easily berelated to human beings (Zimmer, 2008). This indicates that E.colibacterium has been closely been observed by scientists detailing themany challenges it faces just as those faced by all organisms.

AnE.colibacterium has rich adaptations such as the two membranes that playcritical role in retaining energy and its growth. These two membranestypically provide barriers for materials going in and out of thecell. However, the inner membrane is structured in such a way that itobtains its energy from the locomotive functions of the protons thatforces their way in. this is completely different from the outermembrane that must obtain its energy from the inner membrane (Zimmer,2008). The energy is crucial for the movement of important elementsthat are needed for critical functions of a cell.

Therefore,there exists protein type of systems in an E.colicell whose fundamental function is transferring energy from the innermembrane to the outer membrane (Zimmer, 2008). It is worth notingthat these two types of protein systems normally have a complexsystem embedded in the walls of inner membranes that is responsiblefor harvesting energy. These are the Toland Tonsystems of an E.colicell that ensure continuous growth and survival (Zimmer, 2008).

AnE.colibacterium has complex storage, retrieving and information processingsystem in their cellular set up. The bacteria normally navigateenvironments that have complex chemicals for the purposes aidingtheir information systems (Zimmer, 2008). They normally possesspowerful molecular motors that are solely responsible for processinginformation from their environments. In addition, there are a type ofE.colibacterium that normally have specialized systems of recognizingimportant chemicals from their environments which are normallylocated in their outer membranes (Zimmer, 2008).

Theseare the receptor proteins that are typically clustered into oneanother for the purposes of interaction and thus communication. Inthis case, it has been observed that these receptor proteins interacteffectively with another set of proteins. The interaction in turnoffer directional information and thus, the movement of the cell(Zimmer, 2008). It is important to note this type of adaptation thathas made an E.colibacterium an important case of investigation by scientists.

Thereis yet another complex system in an E.colibacterium that is responsible for the interaction between differentsystems in the cell. This complex system is made up of about 6,000different protein components which are agents of communications. Thebiological systems in an E.colicell are entirely made up of protein components as they onlycommunicate among each other (Zimmer, 2008). In my opinion, it istheir structure that makes them accurate in their functionality.According to Zimmer, “E.coliis does not fall victim to false alarms, however, because it hasextra loops in its generic circuit” (Zimmer, 2008, p 32). In myview, the bacteria contain a versatile production system that isspecifically functioned to produce proteins. In addition, there areother systems known as protein expressions that are continuouslydeveloped within the cell allowing easy production of a combinationof protein structures, each designed to play specific role within thecell (Zimmer, 2008).

Zimmerhas successfully been able to demonstrate the close behavioralfunctions that E.colibacteria have depicted as observed in all other organisms. They havea complex and well mapped out communication system that ensures thatthe cell’s fundamental functions are carried out effectively. Theyare able to adapt fast to new environments making them an ideal modelorganisms for research purposes by scientists. In addition, he hasindicated that although it is considered harmful and also fatal inmany instances it is a life saving bacterium with a complex systemsthat can be engineered with new science to save many human lives.


Zimmer,C. (2008). Microcosm:E.coli and the New Science of Life. NewYork: Pantheon Books

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