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Too much of a good thing: Extra genes make bacteria lethal

We, as most animals, host many different . Being beneficial to the host often pays off for the bacteria, as success of the host determines the survival and spread of the microbe. But if bacteria grow too much they may become deadly. In a new study published in the latest edition of the scientific journal PLOS Biology*, a research team from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC; ) found that a single genomic change can turn beneficial bacteria into , by boosting bacterial density inside the host.

Cells of the Fruit Fly with Wolbachia Bacteria
This image shows small yellow dots surrounding bright yellow cell nuclei in each cell are Wolbachia. The cytoskeleton (in red) allows seeing the shape of the cells.
Credit: (IGC)


This research was carried out at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (Oeiras, Portugal). This study was funded by Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia (Portugal) and the Wellcome Trust (UK).

* Ewa Chrostek and Luis Teixeira (2015). Mutualism Breakdown by Amplification of Wolbachia Genes. PLOS Biology.Published: February 10, 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002065

Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia