Cells (and that includes bacteria) are remarkably intelligent! Dr. Bonnie Bassler from Princeton University presents a beautiful TED talk on how bacteria communicate with each other by forming words out of simple molecules. She also explains…

  • How bacteria strategize together on how to ‘take down’ their host
  • Elegant systems of bioluminescence
  • Symbiotic relationships between organisms
  • Cells speak multiple languages

For further depth...

Check out Barbara McClintock’s paper “The Significance of Responses of the Genome to Challenge.”


See what her cells and plants did in real time in real experiments and decide for yourself. But in any case, look at the original data. It’s all out there for everyone to examine.

A few articles from Science Daily.

"Biologists watch speciation in a laboratory flask"
The evolution of a new species can occur rapidly enough for them to observe the process in a simple laboratory flask, biologists have discovered. In a month-long experiment using a virus harmless to humans, biologists documented the evolution of a virus into two incipient species -- a process known as speciation that Charles Darwin proposed to explain the branching in the tree of life, where one species splits into two distinct species during evolution.

"Watching new species evolve in real time"
Sometimes evolution proceeds much more rapidly than we might think. Genetic analysis makes it possible to detect the earliest stages of species formation. For example, a new study investigating rapid speciation in threespine stickleback in and around Lake Constance, shows that a species can begin to diverge very rapidly, even when the two daughter species breed alongside one another simultaneously.

Quotes from Scientists:
Compiled by Perry Marshall

“The ability of a cell to sense these broken ends, to direct them toward each other, and then to unite them so that the union of the two DNA strands is correctly oriented, is a particularly revealing example of the sensitivity of cells to all that is going on within them. They make wise decisions and act upon them.

Time does not allow even a modest listing of known responses of genomes to stress that could or should be included in a discussion aimed at the significance of responses of genomes to challenge.

In addition to modifying gene action, these elements can restructure the genome at various levels, from small changes involving a few nucleotides, to gross modifications involving large segments of chromosomes, such as duplications, deficiencies, inversions, and other more complex reorganizations.

The responses of genomes to unanticipated challenges are not so precisely programmed. Nevertheless, these are sensed, and the genome responds in a discernible but initially unforeseen manner.

A goal for the future would be to determine the extent of knowledge the cell has of itself, and how it utilizes this knowledge in a “thoughtful” manner when challenged.

Induction of such reprogrammings by insects, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, which are not a required response of the plant genome at some stage in its life history, is quite astounding… It is becoming increasingly apparent that we know little of the potentials of a genome. Nevertheless, much evidence tells us that it must be vast.

The stimulus associated with placement of the insect egg into the leaf will initiate reprogramming of the plant’s genome, forcing it to make a unique structure adapted to the needs of the developing insect. The precise structural organization of a gall that gives it individuality must start with an initial stimulus, and each species provides its own specific stimulus. For each insect species the same distinctive reprogramming of the plant genome is seen to occur year-after-year.”

From Barbara McClintock’s 1984 Nobel Prize paper

“Life requires cognition at all scopes and scales. The critical factor in evolution was the moment of instantiation of the self-referential cell. How that occurred is unknown, but the fact that cells are self-aware problem-solving agencies cannot be reasonably disputed. I offer that it is best to consider it as a phase shift derivative of the thermodynamic scale as a state function. As a result, the cell acquires critical participant/observer status, by which physical data becomes information that can be used to solve problems through the attachment to the larger information space. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079610715300109

It proceeds then by differing means. This is best understood as engineering in the sense that Shapiro indicates with his concepts of natural genetic engineering. However, in this circumstance, it is natural cellular engineering (acknowledging the vital importance of all aspects of the crowded, active cellular environment including the cell membrane). It is clear then, that genes are tools and not a dominating agency. This process of cellular engineering is conceptually just like humans making a city though competition and collaboration wherein every individual (cell) is serving its own interests which are then reciprocally linked to all other participants. This is evolution as successive rounds of niche construction, emanating from the cell as the first niche construction, as John Torday has correctly identified. When we, as humans build we use the tools we have according to our abilities. Cells do the same, and their substrate are bioactive materials.”

-William Miller MD author of “The Microcosm Within”

“Cells are cognitive entities possessing great computational power. DNA serves as a multivalent information storage medium for these computations at various time scales. Information is stored in sequences, epigenetic modifications, and rapidly changing nucleoprotein complexes. Because DNA must operate through complexes formed with other molecules in the cell, genome functions are inherently interactive and involve two-way communication with various cellular compartments. Both coding sequences and repetitive sequences contribute to the hierarchical systemic organization of the genome. By virtue of nucleoprotein complexes, epigenetic modifications, and natural genetic engineering activities, the genome can serve as a read-write storage system.”

James A. Shapiro, Genome Informatics: The Role of DNA in Cellular Computations