Here is how dormant bacteria figure out the right time to become active again


He further added, “Mechanistically, the threshold in spores corresponds to potassium content. When spores lose sufficient potassium, they trigger a return to life.” This whole process that enables dormant spores to study their environment via the flux of their stored potassium ions before becoming active is referred to as the integrate and fire mechanism.

The researchers believe that their model is similar to the integrate and fire neuron model, a popular approach for studying the function and behavior of neurons in a neural network. Similar to how a neuron releases an action potential when its membrane potential reaches the threshold value, dormant spores also trigger activity as soon as their potassium ion flux arrives at the threshold.

However, a key difference between neurons and dormant spores is that while the former is super-active and requires a lot of energy to fire the action potential, the latter performs the same task while being in a physiologically dead state.

Dormant bacteria could help us better understand aliens

According to the researchers, it is very important to study dormant bacteria because spore formation is actually a survival technique that allows some of these microorganisms to even stay alive for thousands of years. This makes it difficult for us to eliminate harmful bacteria that contaminate the environment and spread diseases. For example, Bacillus anthrax, a bacteria that causes the deadly anthrax disease in farm animals, can survive for decades as dormant spores in the soil.