In this Ted Talk, molecular biologist, Bonnie Bassler, talks about how microscopic, single-celled bacteria can act collectively to influence their environment. Since we are 90% bacterial (there are 10X as many bacterial cells as there are human cells in and on our bodies at any time), they are actually influencing us and this bacterial influence can benefit or harm us, depending on what type of organism it is.
Bacteria have a chemical language. They produce species-specific communication chemicals that allow them to work collectively. They can even communicate across bacterial species.
Dr. Bassler proposes that this chemical language could be an area to explore to get around the growing problem of bacteria becoming resistant to our current stable of antibiotics.
Species-specific chemicals could be developed that would jam the communication receptors for particular disease-causing pathogenic bacteria only. They would then be unable to communicate and work together to cause virulent disease. Such chemicals would leave the beneficial bacteria in our bodies unaffected.
The currently utilized, wide-spectrum antibiotics can kill a wide swathe of bacterial species, not only the ones that have made the patient ill. This broad spectrum action can have many unintended and negative consequences for health, such as antibiotic resistance, obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies and even perhaps auto-immune disorders. This is a terrifically exciting area of medical research!