ISB News

New Study on How Microbes Learn to Predict the Future

Adaptive Prediction of Yeast

July 28, 2017

In a study published in Genome Biology and Evolution, researchers at Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) designed an experiment to evolve novel adaptive prediction capability in yeast by repetitively exposing it to caffeine, followed by a toxin. Remarkably, the yeast cells learned the structure of this novel environmental pattern within as few as 50 generations to use caffeine as a cue for anticipating and mitigating lethal effects of the toxin.

3 Bullets:

  • Like plants and animals, even microbes can anticipate and prepare in advance for future changes in their environment
  • Similar to how Pavlov trained a dog to anticipate food when it heard a bell, ISB researchers trained yeast to anticipate a lethal toxin when it sensed caffeine
  • The study revealed how in a very short period of time yeast can evolve to ‘learn’ and ‘predict’ new patterns in their environment

Read More

Recent Articles

  • Dr. Jim Heath

    ISB Marking 20th Anniversary with Year-Long Celebration

    Letter from the president: Dr. Jim Heath announces the kickoff of a 2020 celebration marking ISB’s 20th anniversary. The year-long celebration will include an ISB-Town Hall Seattle speaker series focusing on some of the most important topics in science and health care.

  • A Scientist-Approved Science-Themed Holiday Gift Guide

    When putting together a science-themed gift guide, you have to go to the source. So we asked ISB’s researchers for their ideas and to share what’s on their lists. Whether you’re buying for a scientist or wanting to give the gift of science, this gift guide is for you.

  • How Old Are You? Your Body Might Disagree With That Answer

    Researchers at ISB harnessed deep molecular and physiological information to determine an individual’s biological age, which they found was reflective of overall health compared to chronological age. The findings were published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A.