food poisoning researchScience Daily reports that eavesdropping can sometimes be a good thing. Researchers are learning how to listen to a wide range of bacterial conversations — the chemical signals bacteria use to communicate with each other — in an effort to design new compounds to thwart deadly infections, particularly those involved in the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, according to an article scheduled for the Oct. 23 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN associate editor Sarah Everts shows that researchers have made significant strides in decoding bacterial conversations, also known as quorum sensing, a phenomenon first discovered in the 1970s by a group of biologists who were exploring bioluminescent bacteria found in squid.