For the first time, microbiologists have observed how bacteria switch to the L-form and vice versa to avoid the action of antibiotics that destroy their cell walls.
New research reveals how some bacteria can change to continued exposure to antibiotics by altering their shape. In the journal Nature Physics, the work was declared.
The problem of antibiotic resistance
For decades, antibiotics have saved millions of lives by fighting bacterial diseases. However, the battle is not won beforehand. Nature is constantly adapting, and through the use of this type of treatment, bacteria have developed resistance.
As a result, the means of struggle are becoming less and less effective. Researchers recently sounded the alarm, stressing that urgent action is needed to control antibiotic use before they stop working altogether. Ultimately, the WHO estimates that these resistant bacteria could kill up to ten million people by 2050.
Therefore, it is imperative to propose new approaches that can prevent these infections. With this in mind, researchers are carefully analyzing the various strategies employed by the respective bacteria. For example, some of them are already known, for example, lateral gene transfer, which is considered the main mechanism for the spread of resistance in bacteria. A team led by Shiladitya Banerjee of Carnegie Mellon University today describes a new ability to adapt.
As part of this work, the researchers investigated how antibiotic exposure might affect the growth and morphology of Caulobacter crescentus, a widely used model organism. This study showed that when exposed to non-lethal doses of chloramphenicol (a broad-spectrum antibiotic) for several generations, these bacteria can “regain their prestimulating growth rates and undergo dramatic changes in cell shape,” the authors write.
Simply put, these bacteria began to radically change shape, curving inward (after ten generations exposed to low doses of antibiotics). After removing the antibiotics, the cells returned to their original shape after several generations.
Based on single-cell experiments and theoretical simulations, the researchers believe that increasing the cell’s width (and therefore the volume) helps reduce the number of antibiotics inside the bacteria, while the curve and width of the cell can reduce the surface area to volume ratio. Providing fewer antibiotics to move into the cell surface.