Industrial Engineering

Not Just a Human Instinct

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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 44: NUMBER 02

Bacteria use just-in-time strategy for stickiness
Did you hear the one about the bacterium who installed just-in-time manufacturing processes? According to a recent study from Indiana University Bloomington, some bacteria- including the freshwater bacterium caulobacter crescentus and the agricultural pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens – connect first to a surface with their propelling flagella at one end and their holdfast pili at the other. Right after this reversible contact, the bacterium synthesizes a sticky glue. Placing this composition of polysaccharide sugar molecules at the right place at the right time avoids wasteful and problematic production, the scientists said.

Interesting to note for industrial engineers and other manufacturing/logistics types, microbiologists study bacterial adhesion and how bacteria form microbial communities called biofilms. The biofilms can clog pipes, slow down ships and establish antibiotic-resistant infections.