Navigation Links
Study finds that bacteria organize according to 'rich-get-richer' principle
Date:5/9/2013

Bacteria on a surface wander around and often organize into highly resilient communities known as biofilms. It turns out that they organize in a rich-get-richer pattern similar to many economies, according to a new study by researchers at UCLA, Northwestern University and the University of Washington.

The study, published online May 8 in the journal Nature, is the first to identify the strategy by which bacteria form the micro-colonies that become biofilms, which can cause lethal infections. The research may have significant implications for battling stubborn bacterial infections that do not respond to antibiotics.

Bacteria in biofilms behave very differently from free-swimming bacteria. Within biofilms, bacteria change their gene expression patterns and are far more resistant to antibiotics and the body's immune defenses than individual, free-swimming bacteria, because they mass together and are protected by a matrix of proteins, DNA and long, chain-like sugar molecules called polysaccharides. This makes seemingly routine infections potentially deadly.

Gerard Wong, professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, member of the California NanoSystems Institute, and professor of chemistry and biochemstry at UCLA; Erik Luijten, professor of materials science and engineering and of applied mathematics at Northwestern University; and Matthew R. Parsek, professor of microbiology at the University of Washington, led a team of researchers who elucidated the early formation of biofilms by developing algorithms that describe the movements of the different strains of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and by conducting computer simulations to map the bacteria's movements. P. aeruginosa can cause lethal, difficult-to-treat infections, including those found in cystic fibrosis and AIDS patients.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that the individual bacteria that start the formation of micro-colonies have no special, inherent qualities. As bacteria move across a surface, they leave trails composed of a specific type of polysaccharide called Psl. "Some of the bacteria remained fixed in position," Parsek said. "But some moved around on the surface, apparently randomly, but leaving a trail that influenced the surface behavior of other bacteria that encountered it."

Bacteria arriving later also lay trails, but their movements tend to be guided by the trails from the pioneers. This network of trails creates a process of positive feedback and enables bacteria to organize into micro-colonies that mature into biofilms. By being at the right place at the right time, and by using communally produced polysaccharides, a small number of lucky cells often ones that come later become the first to form micro-colonies. Cells in micro-colonies have many survival advantages over other bacteria.

Interestingly, these biofilms develop in accordance with Zipf's Law, which has been used to describe the phenomenon of a small portion of a population controlling the majority of that population's wealth. "It turns out bacteria do something similar," Wong said. "A small number of bacteria have the best access to the lion's share of communally produced polysaccharides."

Wong said the research may provide insight into how to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. "Typically, when we want to get rid of bacteria, we just kill them with antibiotics," he said. "As a result, they develop defense mechanisms and grow stronger. Maybe that's not always the best way to treat biofilms. Perhaps we can regulate bacterial communities the way we regulate economies. Our work suggests that new treatment options may use incentives and communications, as well as punishment, to control bacterial communities."

Luijten said that the group's findings were possible because the researchers drew knowledge from their various individual disciplines. "Only through combination of the totally different types of expertise of three different research groups has it been possible to disentangle what is going on, and how polysaccharides influence the organization of bacteria into micro-colonies."


'/>"/>

Contact: Bill Kisliuk
bkisliuk@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0540
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study finds brain system for emotional self-control
2. Bacteria adapt and evade nanosilvers sting -- new study
3. Clinical Tests Demonstrate Long-Term Effectiveness of Oral Glutathione Supplements - Kyowa Study
4. Study: MicroRNA cooperation mutes breast cancer oncogenes
5. Older US-born Mexican-Americans more physically limited than Mexican-American immigrants: Study
6. Study uncovers mechanism for how grapes reduce heart failure associated with hypertension
7. Study confirms everolimus can overcome trastuzumab resistance in HER-2 positive early breast cancer
8. Study reveals magnitude of variation in gene expression measurements within breast cancers
9. Study opens new prospects for developing new targeted therapies for breast cancer
10. Breast cancer heterogeneity no barrier to predictive testing, study shows
11. BUSM study shows positive impact of mind-body course on well-being of medical students
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market ... 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. Gait ... which can be used to compute factors that ...
(Date:4/13/2016)...  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... standard in telehealth thanks to a new partnership with ... IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health measurements, such ... and, when they opt in, share them with IMPOWER ... local retail location at no cost. By leveraging this ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm ... of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who ... members of the original technical leadership team, including Chief ... President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President ... returned to the company. Dr. Bready served ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... today announced the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in ... to explore the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Durham, NC (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... Odense University Hospital in Denmark detail how a patient who developed lymphedema after being ... (fat) tissue. The results could change the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated to ... medical community, has closed its Series A funding round, ... "We have received a commitment from Forentis ... need to meet our current goals," stated Matthew ... runway to complete validation on the current projects in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the ... the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to finish ... 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following equities: Infinity ... NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ... ). Learn more about these stocks by accessing their free ...
Breaking Biology Technology: