Slimy Bacteria Can See and Move Like Eyeballs With Legs

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

We often talk about how spy agencies like GCHQ and NSA are a bunch of slimeballs, but we never expected to learn that actual slimeballs are also capable of watching everything around them. Scientists have discovered that bacteria act as weird, all-seeing eyeballs, which are able to sense light and move towards it.

A team of biologists from the UK, Germany and Portugal carried out experiments on single-celled pond slime, which was able to bend light rays, focusing them in a single spot, and subsequently pinpoint the source of the light and shuffle towards it. According to the scientists, the bacteria work in the same manner as human eyes or camera lenses.

"It has a way of detecting where the light is; we know that because of the direction that it moves," said study co-author Conrad Mullineaux, from Queen Mary University of London. "We noticed it accidentally, because we had cells on a surface and we were shining light from one side, in order to watch the movement towards the light. We suddenly saw these focused bright spots and we thought, 'Bloody hell!' Immediately, it was pretty obvious what was going on. It seemed really, really obvious afterwards."

That means that every inch of you is essentially covered in tiny cameras. I’m already imagining a future in which the government demands access to the bacteria’s footage. [BBC, eLife]

Image: Federico R Grosso via Flickr