Science by the Pint

Our next Science by the Pint will feature

Dr. Alan Grossman

Bacterial sex, contraception, and the spread of antibiotic resistance

Meet us July 13th at 7pm at The Burren in Davis Square!
Click here for directions.

Bacteria are everywhere. Some cause infections, and these bacterial pathogens are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, threatening our ability to treat disease. Other bacteria are beneficial and essential for human health. They populate almost every surface on our body, and many within. Our bodies contain more bacterial cells than human cells. Bacteria are also important in the production of many foods (e.g., yogurt and cheese) and can help decompose all types of organic matter – for example, decomposing dead plants in forests.
Despite being single-celled organisms, bacteria are remarkably complex. They are capable of communicating with each other. They can transfer genes to other bacteria, conferring new traits onto their neighbors. The rampant spread of antibiotic resistances in bacterial populations is due to this “sharing,” or transfer of genes from one organism to another. The ways in which bacteria acquire new genes, including those of antibiotic resistance, are topics of fervent study in microbiology research. Among many other important problems, Dr. Alan Grossman and his lab at MIT are interested in understanding: how bacteria talk to each other; how they transfer genes from one organism to another (sex); and how they prevent or minimize transfer of genes (contraception).

Grossman Lab website: https://biology.mit.edu/people/alan_grossman

Check out our summer schedule below: