Last year, a paper from Microbial Genomics described how scientists used molecular detective work to get to the bottom of an outbreak across Europe. In June 2014, there was an outbreak of Salmonella at a hospital in Birmingham. Thirty-two people were affected, and one patient sadly died as a result of infection. Over the following weeks, more outbreaks began…
Controlled experimental evolution during antibiotic treatment can shed light on the processes leading to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Recently, intermittent antibiotic exposures have been shown to lead rapidly to the evolution of tolerance, i.e., the ability to survive under treatment without developing resistance. However, whether tolerance delays or promotes the eventual emergence of resistance is unclear. Here, we used in vitro evolution experiments to explore this question. We found that in all cases tolerance preceded resistance. A mathematical population-genetics model showed how tolerance boosts the chances for resistance mutations to spread in the population. Thus, tolerance mutations pave the way for the rapid subsequent evolution of resistance. Preventing the evolution of tolerance may offer a new strategy for delaying the emergence of resistance.
There has been much recent talk about how to target the rising tide of antibiotic resistance across the world, one of the biggest threats to global health today. While there is no doubting the size of the problem facing scientists, healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, there are innovative ways we can target antibiotic resistance in the short term.
Normal human skin is colonized by a variety of bacteria, which typically do not perturb the host. However, Staphylococcus aureus is known to aggravate symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Nakatsuji et al . report that other strains of Staphylococcus residing on the skin of healthy individuals produce a novel antimicrobial peptide that can inhibit S. aureus growth. Colonization of pigskin or mice with these protective commensals reduced S. aureus replication. Autologous bacterial transplant in a small number of atopic dermatitis patients drastically reduced S. aureus skin burden. This commensal skin transplant is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with a clinical trial underway.
by Kostas Konstantinidis and Roberto Kolter | The second part of the question in the title of this post is relative easy to answer; the first part is much more challenging. Defining bacterial species is not only an important academic exercise but also has major practical consequences. For example, infectious disease diagnoses, regulations involving the transport of bacteria, and educating the public regarding bacteria that are beneficial to humans, animals or plants are all deeply-rooted in naming bacterial species.
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