Researcher Sosuke Ito of Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Associate Professor Takahiro Sagawa of the University of Tokyo, elucidated the mechanism of information processing when Escherichia coli searches for food.Information processing in the cell is performed at the molecular level.It was pointed out that its work resembled Maxwell's demon, which was conceived in the 19th century.

 Maxwell's demon is a fictitious entity that "observes phenomena at the molecular level and manipulates molecules according to their state."For example, normally, if hot air (fast molecule velocity) and cold air (slow velocity) are mixed, the temperature will be in the middle value and cannot be separated into the state before mixing.But if a little devilish being observes the velocities of molecules in the air and sorts them into fast and slow ones, that impossible thing will happen.

 The demon itself was conceived as completely fictitious, but as research on the cells of living organisms progressed, it became clear that there was a phenomenon like this demon that controlled differently depending on the state of the molecule.For example, Escherichia coli has been found to move in the direction of higher nutrient concentration.It is said that it "records the concentration of surrounding nutrients in the cell at the molecular level" and "determines the direction to go based on the result".This is exactly the same as the demon's function of deciding its behavior according to the state of concentration.A detailed analysis of this function revealed that E. coli processes information very efficiently.
 If the mechanism of what kind of information processing organisms perform in cells can be completely elucidated, it will be possible to artificially utilize it.Perhaps the future will come when computers that perform efficient information processing that apply the mechanism of E. coli will appear.

Source:[Tokyo Institute of Technology] Elucidating the function of "Maxwell's demon" hidden in E. coli-The first step toward analysis of biometric information processing by fusing information and thermodynamics-

Tokyo University

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The University of Tokyo was established in 1877 (Meiji 10) by integrating the Tokyo Kaisei School and the Tokyo Medical School.Since its establishment, it has developed education and research in a unique way in the world as a leading university in Japan and an academic center for the fusion of East and West cultures.As a result, many human resources have been produced in a wide range of fields, and many research achievements […]

Tokyo Institute of Technology

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Tokyo Institute of Technology was established as the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1881 (Meiji 14), when modernization of industry was an urgent need.Since its establishment, it has continued to produce excellent research results with excellent science and engineering human resources, and is still at the top of Japan's science and engineering universities.Tokyo Institute of Technology requires not only a high degree of specialization but also liberal arts […]

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