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Discovery of mechanism that enables bacteria to elude antibiotics

The Molecular Microbiology Research Group in the UAB’s Department of Genetics and Microbiology describes for the first time, in a work published in PLOS ONE, a model of behaviour of a bacterial colony that shows how the colony protects itself against toxic substances, like antibiotics, during the colonisation process.

The researchers have determined that alteration of the equilibrium between two proteins of Salmonella enterica in the presence of antibiotics leads to the disorganisation of the structures that allow the population to spread, which in turn stops the progress of the cells in the bacterial colony that are nearest to harmful concentrations of antibiotic, while the rest spread into areas with lower concentrations.

Bacterial populations move over surfaces in coordinated way known as swarming, which allows them to spread further over organs and tissues and increases the virulence of the infection. This movement is driven by the action of the flagella and the chemoreceptors, the systems responsible for identifying chemical compounds in the environment and which are anchored at the poles of their cells, forming highly organised structures, of which the protein CheW forms part.

Model of the behaviour of a bacterial colony of Salmonella enterica due to the presence of antibiotics
Model of the behaviour of a bacterial colony of Salmonella enterica due to the presence of antibiotics
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona