The Physical Microbe

The Physical Microbe

An introduction to noise, control, and communication in the prokaryotic cell

Stephen J. Hagen
ISBN: 9781681745282 | PDF ISBN: 9781681745299
Copyright © 2018 | 111 Pages | Publication Date: December, 2017

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The new field of physical biology fuses biology and physics. New technologies have allowed researchers to observe the inner workings of the living cell, one cell at a time. With an abundance of new data collected on individual cells, including observations of individual molecules and their interactions, researchers are developing a quantitative, physics-based understanding of life at the molecular level. They are building detailed models of how cells use molecular circuits to gather and process information, signal to each other, manage noise and variability, and adapt to their environment.

This book narrows down the scope of physical biology by focusing on the microbial cell. It explores the physical phenomena of noise, feedback, and variability that arise in the cellular information-processing circuits used by bacteria. It looks at the microbe from a physics perspective, to ask how the cell optimizes its function to live within the constraints of physics. It introduces a physical and information-based (as opposed to microbiological) perspective on communication and signaling between microbes.

The book is aimed at non-expert scientists who wish to understand some of the most important emerging themes of physical biology, and to see how they help us to understand the most basic forms of life.

Table of Contents

1. Why the physical microbe?
2. Introduction
3. Growth
4. Gene regulatory networks
5. Stochastic gene expression
6. Phenotypic switching
7. Communication
8. Bacillus subtilis competence and sporulation - the whole package

About the Author(s)

Stephen J. Hagen, University of Florida
Steve Hagen is Professor of Physics at the University of Florida. He began his scientific career in experimental condensed matter physics, studying high temperature superconductivity. He then switched to biological physics, studying first protein folding dynamics and then bacterial communication. Most recently his research work has focused on unravelling noisy regulatory pathways in quorum sensing bacteria. He has published numerous scientific papers in all of these areas, as well as book reviews of physics textbooks for professional journals, and he recently edited a book on the physics of bacterial communication. His interests also include physics education and public policy. Prior to working at the University of Florida he worked at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland and he was also a congressional science fellow with the American Institute of Physics.

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