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Video Shows How Bacteria Invade Antibiotics And Transform Into Superbugs (npr.org) 87

guises writes: By making a giant petri dish out of bands of increasingly antibiotic-laced agar, a couple of microbiologists have created a means to watch bacterial evolution as it happens: colonies introduced to the dish expand to fill the areas in which they can survive and then mutate and spread into the areas in which they can not. It takes only eleven days for the bacteria to evolve sufficient resistance to survive in an area with a thousand times the concentration of antibiotics that would have killed the original colonies. And it makes a pretty neat video.
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Video Shows How Bacteria Invade Antibiotics And Transform Into Superbugs

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  • Title is incorrect (Score:2, Informative)

    by UPZ ( 947916 )
    Bacteria "evade" and not "invade" antibiotics.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday September 09, 2016 @09:28PM (#52860311) Homepage

      Bacteria do not evade antibiotics, they die and quite simply those that are not affected by the particular anti-biotic survive and reproduce. As the bacteria are relatively simple and they DNA is also relatively simply, they can only be resistant to a limited number of potential antibiotics, so new anti-biotics mixes can simply be many older ones mixed together, don't kill the bacteria with one, kill it with the other, they could also add in immune system supplements to power up the immune system in conjunction with the anti-biotic mix. As the anti-biotic mix could be quite a large dose, it would be better that side affects do not compound but impact the body in different ways, so many smaller side affects rather than compounding side affects.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        True to some extent, sadly there aren’t that many classes of antibiotics kown. Resistance to a single class is developed relatively easily, and can work against tens of brands of antibiotics.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        A symposium on new vaccine techniques, interesting in light of TFA (could be adapted to work against some bacteria as well as viruses):

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        Starts in a ways, IIRC at about 12 minutes.

    • The didn't invade or evade the antibiotic, they just became resistant to it. But yes, I agree, the article has a poorly written title.
    • Just read the article and watched the video. The video has areas that have no antibiotics that's where the bacteria start. Further in areas have higher concentrations of antibiotics. The bacteria colonizes into the antibacteria areas they are literally invading the antibiotic material / area.

      • Re:Title is Correct (Score:5, Informative)

        by guises ( 2423402 ) on Saturday September 10, 2016 @02:58AM (#52861141)
        It's not the title I submitted: "Scientists create invincible super bacteria in order to make a cool video"

        Oh well, it bothers me more that they changed "couldn't" to "can not." Let it be known: I got the tense right.
        • by tomhath ( 637240 )

          colonies introduced to the dish expand to fill the areas in which they can survive and then mutate and spread into the areas in which they can not

          You mixed present and past tense. To be consistent:

          "... expand to fill the areas in which they can survive and then mutate and spread into the areas in which they can not survive without the mutation"

          "... expanded to fill the areas in which they could survive and then mutated and spread into the areas in which they could not prior to the mutation."

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      Bacteria "evade" and not "invade" antibiotics.

      They did indeed invade the part of the petri dish that was laced with antibiotics. After developing resistance there was no need for them to evade it.

  • DNA analysis? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ceo2 ( 51736 ) on Friday September 09, 2016 @09:10PM (#52860221)

    has anyone compared the DNA of the final generations to determine if they are genetically identical or radically different?

    • Re:DNA analysis? (Score:5, Informative)

      by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Friday September 09, 2016 @09:54PM (#52860423)
      That has been done before and they are different. Also, there's not just one mutation that can occur to create antibiotic resistance, they've cataloged a large number of them that can each result in resistance.
    • has anyone compared the DNA of the final generations

      Yes they did. It's in the Science paper at http://science.sciencemag.org/... [sciencemag.org] (Sci-hub at http://science.sciencemag.org.... [sci-hub.cc]) They sequenced several hundred of the mutant strains, plus, of course, multiple isolates of the wild-type strains (as wild types drift, even without deliberately applied evolutionary pressures).

      to determine if they are genetically identical or radically different?

      To no-one's surprise, when they sequenced up to a dozen isolates in a l

  • Now this is cool! (Score:5, Informative)

    by McLae ( 606725 ) on Friday September 09, 2016 @09:53PM (#52860421) Homepage
    A very graphic way of showing selection in action.

    Now you know why your doctor says take all the pills in the prescription. You want to be at 1000, not 1.

    • Would also be curious to see a video where the first stripe was 10 or 1000. If they're not allowed to develop resistance gradually how long does it take?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Either the colony will evolve the mutation allowing it to spread or it will exhaust the nutrients provided in the agar and die.

      • Your question is answered in the paper. Unfortunately I've closed that tab so you'll have to look upthread to where I give the links to it.
    • A very graphic way of showing selection in action.

      Now you know why your doctor says take all the pills in the prescription. You want to be at 1000, not 1.

      .. and probably mutation as well.

      How to test that? Perhaps add the original culture to the final agar mix and observe that none survive. Do the same for the final bacteria mix and observe that they thrive

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Notice the insanely fast way evolution can occur when given the opportunity? See all that plastic you have? It's full of energy, if you burn it it makes a lot of heat. It's not a lot more complicated than cellulose to digest.

    So bacteria will evolve to eat it and already are:
    http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-bacteria-eat-plastic-20160310-story.html

    So we had antibiotics for 100 years, and plastics for about the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Saturday September 10, 2016 @10:38AM (#52862399)

    it's a good thing that nobody's dumb enough to routinely dose cattle and chicken and other livestock with anti-biotics. that would enable resistant bugs to evolve and spread everywhere.

  • Nature deals with the evolution of bacteria around the toxins of natural organisms. Now they must ask how does penicillin mold deal with the evolution of the bacteria its toxin destroys.
  • I see nothing in the researcher's methodology that verifies the traits for resistance were the result of random mutations. The antibiotic resistance traits could have always been present, but recessive. More importantly, there were no tests for actual fitness -- a requirement for evolution. Antibiotic resistance may come at the expense of other traits more important to long-term survival, such as, for example, the ability to tolerate seasonal temperature changes. Like the silly Dawkins Weasel Shakespeare i
    • by matija ( 27014 )

      Wrong. First of all, recessive genes only happen when you have sexual reproduction, where two sets of genes combine, not in bacteria, where the gene is either there when the bacteria splits into two almost-identical bacteria, or not.

      Second, if some of the bacteria originally possessed the genes which enabled it to survive 1000x concentration of the antibiotic, you would see a streak as that bacterial strain immediately spread into all the bands. The pauses at each concentration boundary show that no strain

    • there were no tests for actual fitness -- a requirement for evolution.

      The "landscape" of different concentrations of antibiotics in the MEGA-dish provides the test of thickness. The bacteria don't (on the timescale involved) diffusively move by more than a few millimetres on this metre-scale Petri dish. So the spread of colonies by tens of millimetres to tens of centimetres is accomplished by mummy (or daddy) bacteria loving other bacteria very much ... oh, sorry, no - completely ignoring each other ... and

  • OK, I can see how this could be used to create strains of bacteria resistant to a large number of antibiotics. Don't see that as a practical activity for most people.

    As I have no current plans to become a bio-terrorist, this technique isn't terribly useful to me in its current form.

    Could it be adapted somehow, perhaps to turn federal judges and/or bureaucrats and other such life-forms into productive members of society?

    If I come up with something, I'll post it here. K?

    [mutters] Take a really big petri

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