Colonies 1 and 2

No one likes to be in crowded spaces, so when colonies reach a critical cell density, cells within the colony begin to lyse, dramatically changing the architecture of the colony. The colony on the left is a wild-type colony, while the colony on the right is a genetic mutant that exhibits an autolytic phenotype, that is the bacterium’s own enzymes “eat up” its cells. The … Continue reading Colonies 1 and 2

Colonies on a Plate

A single bacterial cell is invisible to the naked eye. As that single cell grows and divides into new cells, however, it forms a visible pile of bacteria. In microbiology, we call this pile of bacteria a colony. A colony’s appearance can indicate a lot about the bacterial cells within, such as how they utilize nutrients, if they carry genetic mutations, and how the bacterial … Continue reading Colonies on a Plate

Pseudomonads

The adaptation of the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa often produces phenotypic diversity. Here, mutants isolated from a genetic screen show notable differences in phenotype: the production of pigments, size, shape, and texture. The blue-green pigmentation seen in some mutants results from the production of pyocyanin, an excreted toxin that kills other microbes and mammalian cells. Whereas, the brown pigmentation is caused by the exocellular pigment, pyomelanin, which … Continue reading Pseudomonads

Nature’s Living Magnets: An unexpected tool to treat disease

by Saman Hussain figures by Daniel Utter All living organisms have developed ways to move to places that are beneficial for them. Even tiny organisms like bacteria need to move towards food sources. Finding food becomes much easier if information from the environment is used to help in the search. For example, if you are looking for free pizza in your workplace, relying on randomly … Continue reading Nature’s Living Magnets: An unexpected tool to treat disease

Antibiotic Resistance: Old genes, new problems

by Alexandra Cantley figures by Joy Jiao and Shannon McArdel Over the last several years, antibiotic resistance has gripped the attention of the public. Recently, newspapers have alerted us to a “superbug” in China and detailed the struggles of Daniel Fells, a Giants team member who is facing surgery for a persistent MRSA infection [1,2]. Yet, a recent survey conducted by the World Health Organization … Continue reading Antibiotic Resistance: Old genes, new problems

Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble: A medieval drug raises cautious hope in the fight against MRSA

A 1000-year-old Anglo-Saxon recipe for eye stys in Bald’s Leechbook directs the reader to take the ingredients and “pound them well together” before letting them stew for nine days. A group from Nottingham University followed Bald’s recipe and their close attention to the medieval text paid off when they saw that the garlicky slime produced by their efforts killed 90% of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) on … Continue reading Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble: A medieval drug raises cautious hope in the fight against MRSA

New Weapons in the Fight against Germs: A Technique to Find More Anti-bacterial Compounds

Certain types of life-threatening bacteria are no longer killed by current antibiotics, creating a need to develop new compounds to fight them. Scientists have been studying proteins produced by animals and humans, called cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs), that the body uses to fight off infections. Recently, scientists developed a new method to identify CAMPs, and they hope the method can uncover CAMPs that are effective … Continue reading New Weapons in the Fight against Germs: A Technique to Find More Anti-bacterial Compounds