The Cell as a Thermostat: How Much does it Know?

Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 736)

Abstract

How does bacterial thermotaxis compare to a simple wall thermostat? Elements with similar function can be found in the two, including a temperature-sensing element, an output switch, and an external control. But they differ in their origins. A thermostat is designed and made by humans and embodies their understanding of seasonal fluctuations in temperature and how these affect room comfort. By contrast, the bacterial system is self-contained and assembles according to information in its genome acquired by evolution. This information is far richer than anything carried by a thermostat and closer to the ‘knowledge’ that higher animals have about the world.

Keywords

Phosphoryl Group Flagellar Motor Output Switch Control Lever Watson Computer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank Matthew Levin, Ralph Linsker, Jim Shapiro, Kate Storey and Yuhai Tu for insightful comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Development and NeuroscienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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