Berkeley Lab Research Review Winter 2000

A modern microchip is a wonder, a tiny crystalline object packed with an integrated array of resistors, capacitors, inductors, amplifiers, and more-a network that can perform prodigies of signal processing and computation, as long as a manageable number of electrons flows through the system. Yet the circuitry of a single-celled organism-even tinier, common as dirt-is more wonderful still. Microbes adapt to changing environments, respond with versatility to threat from within and without, and replicate themselves in profusion. Simple viruses perform tricks almost as impressive; cells in complex organisms can do even more.
A stained E. coli bacteria [above] reveals its intricate internal mechanism. Using innovative computer analysis programs, scientists are studying the biochemical switches in the DNA of such infectious microorganisms in order to better understand their developmental pathways.
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