Superbug bacteria found to DEVOUR rivals, then assimilate their genetic code to become RESISTANT to all known antibiotics

Sunday, January 7, 2018
By Paul Martin

by: Russel Davis
Saturday, January 06, 2018

The current superbug epidemic may take a turn for the worse as recent research showed that certain bacteria not only develop resistance to antibiotics, but may also copy and assimilate characteristics from their rival microorganisms that may further strengthen their immunity. The study published in the journal Cell Reports shed light on how certain bacteria species fortify their defenses against antibiotics.

Researchers at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel observed that certain species of bacteria were equipped with two special skills. The scientists noted that the first skill entails the bacteria’s ability to attack their competitors by injecting them with toxic proteins known as effectors using a poison syringe called type VI secretion system (T6SS). This then leads to cell lysis and death, the scientists added. The experts further explained that the second skill is the bacteria’s ability to uptake and reuse the released genetic material from their competitors.

“The T6SS, as well as a set of different effectors, can also be found in other pathogens such as those which cause pneumonia or cholera. We have also been able to identify the corresponding immunity proteins of the five toxic effectors in the predator cells. For the bacteria it makes absolute sense to produce not only a single toxin, but a cocktail of various toxins with different effects. This increases the likelihood that the rivals can be successfully eliminated and in some cases also lysed to release their DNA,” researcher Professor Marek Basler told Science Daily online.

The scientists based their research on a model organism called Acinetobacter baylyi, a close relative of the Iraq bug. The experts were able to identify five various bacterial effectors, some of which can effectively kill bacterial competition without destroying the cells, while others can severely damage the rival bacteria’s cell envelope and result in lysis and release of DNA fragments. The researchers cautioned that if the DNA fragments of the rival bacteria contain drug resistance genes, the specific resistance may be passed on to the predatory bacteria. This would render the predatory bacteria more resistant to antibiotics, the health experts concluded.

WHO recommends ways to stop antibiotic resistance

Marc Sprenger, director of the World Health Organization‘s (WHO) secretariat for antimicrobial resistance, explained that biology may be behind this resistance to some extent. According to Sprenger, many infections are quickly becoming resistant to life-saving drugs as these medications will inevitably lose their potency over time.

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