Bacteria were traditionally thought to have a symmetrical binary fission without a clear distinction between soma and germ-line, being thus considered as immortal biological entities. Yet it has been recently described that bacteria also undergo replicative aging (RA). That is, they exhibit finite replicative abilities under good conditions to growth. The apparently initial indistinguishability of sibling cells after cytokinesis is broken. After division, the daughter cell that inherits the “old” pole present in the “mother cell” progressively exhibits a decline in its proliferative capacity with increasing cell pole age. This is a clear hallmark and phenotypic manifestation of a bona fide RA phenomenon in toto. While the exact molecular mechanism(s) underlying to this lost of replicative potential are not yet fully understood, the “old pole cell” is considered as an aging parent that in a repeatedly manner is able to produce rejuvenated offspring which inherit a resetting of the biological clock. On the order hand, bacteria exhibit in addition to this “mandatory” RA the dubbed conditional senescence (CS). CS is defined as a decline in cellular viability observed in arrested-growing bacteria populations, a phenomenon apparently not related to RA under growing active conditions. To understand bacterial aging, it is necessary to put it within the socialitymulticellularity framework. This is a new conceptual paradigm that expresses the natural reality of the bacterial world. From this more ecological perspective these bacterial aging phenomena probably should represent an insurance/bethedging anticipative survival strategy. This is underpinned in a self-generation of an appropriate level of populational phenotypic diversity. That is, bacterial aging could be considered a communitarian adaptive response to cope with different environmental stresses and threats. I have highlighted the necessity to construct an integrative conceptual framework to achieve a unified view of bacteria aging to answer this fundamental question: what are the reasons of bacterial aging?
Keywords: Bacterial aging, replicative aging, conditional senescence, aging in multicellularity, phenotypical diversity, aging in pathogens, insurance/bet-hedging strategy, evolutionary theory of aging, trade-off, stochasticity, programming, mandadory thermodynamic, reactive oxygen species (ROS), superoxide radicals, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), peroxi-dase, amplifica-tive damage loop, Escherichia coli, long-term stationary phase, heat shock sigma factors, OxyR, protein stuttering, ribosome modulation factor, methylates isoaspartyl, Caulobacter crescentus, large polar aggregate, quorum sensing, SOS, (LexA), RecA, Bacillus subtilis, Vibrio cholerae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococ-cus aureus, antagonistic pleiotropy
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