Israeli scientists claim that bacteria are hardwired to anticipate future, and gear up to meet it.
While analysing microorganisms' genetic networks, researchers from Tel Aviv University have found that bacteria can 'foresee' the sequence of events and prepare themselves to respond to the new state of affairs before its onset.
For instance E. coli bacteria, normally harmless bacteria, come across different environments on their way. They find that one type of sugar - lactose - is invariably followed by a second sugar - maltose - soon afterward, reports Nature.
During the study, Pilpel and his team examined the bacterium's genetic response to lactose, and found that, in addition to the genes that enable it to digest lactose, the gene network for utilizing maltose was partially activated.
But when the researchers gave the bacteria maltose first, there was no corresponding activation of lactose genes.
This suggests that bacteria have naturally 'learned' to get ready for maltose after a lactose serving.
Citing another example of wine yeast, the team showed as fermentation takes place, levels of sugar and acidity also change, alcohol levels rise, and the yeast's environment heats up.
They found that as the wine yeast feels the heat, they turn on genes dealing with the stresses of the next stage.
The researchers believe that the ability to foresee and respond accordingly is an evolutionary adaptation that increases the organism's chances of survival.