Category Archives: Microbiology

Bacteria Sacrifice Themselves For The Community

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that large clusters Pseudomonas aeruginosa send out anti-respiration signals to members of the cluster to induce suicide.  The dead bacteria then become part of the bacteria’s notoriously tricky antibiotic defense system – its biofilm.  While industrial researchers have found that bacterial biofilms have potential as coatings for boats (to decrease fiction moving through the water),  the biofilms cause infections to better resist treatment and increase the odds of patient relapse.   This bacteria often hits patients hospitalized for an extended time hardest (called nosocomial infection) and also causes infection in particularly moist environments lung and urinary tracts.   By understanding the cell suicide mechanism and the chemical responsible for causing it and the resulting biofilm, the hope is that new treatments can be developed to better fight the infection.  How might biofilms be actually helpful (where are slick, robust surfaces important)?