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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required. Constituent cells of an organism communicate with each other through chemical signals to coordinate growth and differentiation. Cells also perish along the way, their programmed death benefiting the organism's survival. Bacteria also "talk" to each other through chemical signals and, on occasion, kill themselves. This suggests that they are capable of multicellular behaviors. In this Perspective, Kolter discusses how Kolodkin-Gal et al. show that the bacterium Escherichia coli releases a signaling molecule that activates a programmed cell death pathway, supporting the concept that multicellularity is a general bacterial trait.
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