Bacterial cells are singularly long-lived. They keep dividing for what seems like forever. But because they are made of biochemicals, their DNA and proteins should suffer damage similar to what any other cell endures, including animal cells. What keeps bacterial cell components from wearing down?
Microbiologists have been trying to find out how these single-cell organisms handle chemical damage, which relentlessly accumulates due to friction and uncontrolled chemical reactions. So far, the results have been confusing, but a new analysis appears to have confirmed that bacteria have a remarkably well-engineered damage-reduction program.