Bacteria are characterized by their ability for interacting and become adapted to their surrounding environment. To this aim, they have developed various mechanisms to detect both chemical and physical stimuli and to respond in very different ways to these stimuli. Nowadays we know quite well the molecular basis of most of these detection and response mechanisms. However, very little is known on whether bacteria are able to detect and respond to one of the most common physical stimuli present in the environment, i.e., the sound waves in the audio frequency range (20 to 20000 Hz). Therefore, this project aims to develop different experiments to elucidate precisely and reproducibly the effects of audible sound waves in bacteria, as well as the molecular mechanisms underlying the detection and response to these stimuli. The few previous data on the effects of audible sound waves in the development of microorganisms are not sufficiently supported and, in any case, the underlying molecular mechanisms used to detect these stimuli are not known. Therefore, this project will develop firstly a working method to certifying the existence of this effect using perfectly controlled and reproducible acoustic devices, and employing different bacteria and culture media. Once the effect of the sonic waves is confirmed, we will determine the molecular basis of the mechanism of action using omics and genetic engineering technologies. Although the heterodoxy and project risks are high, the profits can be very large from different points of view, i.e., biotechnological, clinical and environmental. If it is demonstrated that bacteria have developed specific molecular mechanisms to detect and respond to the sound waves, the use of these sonic stimuli will facilitate to modify and control the bacterial metabolism by using very simple and safe acoustic devices.

This project was supported by the program EXPLORA of MINECO.