Scientists watch as bacteria evolve antibiotic resistance

In summary, the scientists set up a large petri dish that had different concentrations of antibiotics on it. They then watched the bacteria evolve into resistant strains.
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For bacteria, practice makes perfect: Adjusting to ever higher levels of antibiotics preps them to morph into super resistant strains, and scientists can now watch it happen. A new device — a huge petri dish coated with different concentrations of antibiotics — makes this normally hidden process visible, microbiologist Michael Baym and colleagues report in the Sept. 9 Science. The setup gives a step-by-step picture of how garden-variety microbes become antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

“As someone who’s studied evolutionary biology for a long time, I think it has a real wow factor,” says Sam Brown, a microbiologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta who wasn’t involved in the study. The bacteria are “climbing this impossible mountain of antibiotics.” ...
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Great experiment! Thanks for sharing!
This reminds me of a paper I read recently: Antibiotic resistance: a physicist’s view
We believe that this is just the beginning. Many questions remain to be addressed about how bacteria respond (and become resistant) to antibiotics, and physicists have an important role to play in this effort. As a first example, it is imperative to gain better understanding of how bacterial cells interact mechanically with one another and with their environment. Mechanical interactions appear to be very important in bacterial self-assembly50–53, yet our limited knowledge of these interactions prevents us from building accurate models of how spatially structured infections like bacterial biofilms form. As a second example, horizontal gene transfer – the transmission of genes encoding antibiotic resistance between (potentially) unrelated bacteria by direct transfer of DNA – has been little studied in a “physics” context54,55, yet it is very important in clinically relevant antibiotic-resistant infections. It would be very interesting to investigate how physical factors such as the forces existing between adjacent bacterial cells in a colony or biofilm affect the rate of gene transfer56 .

Related to Scientists watch as bacteria evolve antibiotic resistance

1. How do scientists study the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria?

Scientists use a variety of methods to study the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. This includes conducting experiments in controlled environments, analyzing DNA sequences, and observing the spread of resistance in real-world settings.

2. Why is it important for scientists to study the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria?

Studying the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is important because it can help us understand how resistance develops and spreads. This information can then be used to develop new strategies for combating antibiotic resistance and preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics.

3. What causes bacteria to evolve antibiotic resistance?

Bacteria can evolve antibiotic resistance through natural selection. When exposed to antibiotics, some bacteria may have genetic mutations that allow them to survive and reproduce, passing on these traits to their offspring. Over time, this can lead to the development of resistant bacteria.

4. Can antibiotic resistance be reversed in bacteria?

In some cases, yes. Bacteria can lose their resistance if they are no longer exposed to antibiotics. However, this process can take a long time and may not occur in all cases. Additionally, bacteria can also acquire new resistance genes through gene transfer, making it difficult to completely reverse resistance.

5. What can individuals do to help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance?

As individuals, we can help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance by only taking antibiotics when prescribed by a doctor and following the prescribed dosage. It is also important to properly dispose of unused antibiotics and to not share them with others. Additionally, supporting research and development of new antibiotics and practicing good hygiene can also help prevent the spread of resistance.

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