Insights into how bacteria "talk" to each other could help scientists halt their growing resistance to antibiotics.

A study by Edinburgh University, in collaboration with Nottingham and Durham universities, has revealed bacteria use a form of communication similar to human language, but employing chemical signals instead of words.

This enables the bacteria to thrive and researchers hope that by interpreting it they can develop new drugs to fight infections without bacteria developing a resistance.

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Scientists say the number of dangerous bacteria becoming resistant to anti­biotics is increasing

Researchers found bacteria recognise their physical and social environment by producing and responding to chemical compounds which act as messages. Bacteria responded differently to a combination of two messages than they did to either by itself.