Bacteria Harbor Secret Weapons Against Antibiotics

Hidden genetic complexity helps microbes evolve antibiotic resistance in diverse and unexpected ways

Article ID: 572572

Released: 15-Sep-2014 8:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Argonne National Laboratory

  • Credit: Robert Austin/Princeton University

    This image shows two strains of E. coli bacteria (wild-type and GASP) competing with each other as they grow out on a flat surface. The wild-type bacteria appear green on the surface while the GASP bacteria appear red. When researchers added the bacteria to more complex microfluidic devices they observed the rapid evolution of different mutations for antibiotic resistance.

Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C., September 9, 2014 – The ability of pathogenic bacteria to evolve resistance to antibiotic drugs poses a growing threat to human health worldwide. And scientists have now discovered that some of our microscopic enemies may be even craftier than we suspected, using hidden genetic changes to promote rapid evolution under stress and developing antibiotic resistance in more ways than previously thought. The results appear in a new paper in the journal Biomicrofluidics, from AIP Publishing.