Zimmer, no The Loom (curioso que não existem permalinks ali), anota os seguintes artigos científicos sobre o tema :
Other studies suggest that the unpredictable noisiness in E. coli’s cellular machinery is also responsible for persistence, hairy coats, selfless suicide and vulnerability to viruses. The big question for many scientists is why E. coli has evolved so that noise can produce such drastic changes in its biology.
Mathematical models suggest E. coli uses noise as a way to hedge its bets. A colony of E. coli can’t simply wait until they’re doused with antibiotics to slip into persistence. They’d be killed before they were done. Instead, noise causes a fraction of them to be persisters. If they do get hit with antibiotics, at least a few of them will survive. If the antibiotics never come, the majority of the bacteria can continue to grow and divide.
E. coli appears to follow a universal rule. Other microbes exploit noise, as do flies, worms and humans. Some of the light-sensitive cells in our eyes are tuned to green light, and others to red. The choice is a matter of chance. One protein may randomly switch on the green gene or the red gene, but not both.
In our noses, nerve cells can choose among hundreds of different kinds of odor receptors. Each cell picks only one, and evidence suggests that the choice is controlled by the unpredictable bursts of proteins within each neuron. It’s far more economical to let noise make the decision than to make proteins that can control hundreds of individual odor receptor genes.
É interessante pensar nas colônia de E. Coli como proto-organismos multicelulares, cujo mecanismo de diferenciação celular é estocástico (um mecanismo presente mesmo nos organismos multicelulares, como o exemplo dos neurônios receptores de odor mostra). Se assim é, essa diferenciação poderia ser otimizada em sistemas perto de bifurcações, pois é onde o ruído faria diferença, jogando o sistema de uma bacia de atração fenotípica para outra.
Mais um possível exemplo ilustrando a fé do Santa Fe Institute?