Navigation Links
When faced with some sugars, bacteria can be picky eaters
Date:7/8/2014

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Minnesota have found for the first time that genetically identical strains of bacteria can respond very differently to the presence of sugars and other organic molecules in the environment, with some individual bacteria devouring the sugars and others ignoring it.

"This highlights the complexity of bacterial behaviors and their response to environmental conditions, and how much we still need to learn," says Dr. Chase Beisel, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work. "This is one additional piece of the puzzle that could help us understand the behaviors of bacterial pathogens or the population dynamics of the micro-organisms that live in our guts."

The researchers grew a non-pathogenic strain of E. coli in liquid culture, with each culture rich in a different type of sugar. Bacteria produce different protein pumps and enzymes that are dedicated to taking in and breaking down specific types of sugar, but only when the relevant sugar is present.

To explore how individual bacteria respond to different sugars, the research team genetically modified the bacteria to create fluorescent proteins whenever they produced the pumps or enzymes. These fluorescent proteins acted as visual cues that the researchers could use to see how individual bacteria responded to the presence of a particular sugar.

The researchers tested the E. coli's responses to eight different sugars. For four of those sugars, all of the bacteria responded identically, increasing consumption in response to greater concentrations of sugar molecules in the culture.

But the bacteria responded differently to the other four molecules, exhibiting a wide range of behaviors.

"The behaviors were all over the place," Beisel says.

"While this is the first time we've seen such divergent behavior from bacteria regarding sugars, it's consistent with 'bet-hedging' behaviors that have been reported for bacteria in other contexts," he adds. "Bet hedging means that at least some of the bacteria will survive when faced with new environments."

The researchers also performed mathematical modeling, which found that the bacteria's diverse behaviors could be traced to the production of pumps and enzymes in the presence of sugar.

One question this study raises is whether this bet-hedging behavior is exhibited by bacteria used to convert sugars into biofuels. If it is, that would mean that a percentage of the bacteria aren't converting the sugar which would mean the system wasn't working at peak efficiency.

"But this work raises a lot of other questions as well," Beisel says. Why does this happen in the presence of some sugars but not others? What are the circumstances in which this bet-hedging behavior actually helps the bacteria? What happens in the presence of multiple sugars? And what does this mean for bacteria in real-world conditions? For example, how would this behavior impact the introduction of probiotics or pathogens into the human gut?

"These are all questions we'd love to answer," Beisel says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Fresh faced: Looking younger for longer
2. Two-faced cells discovered in colon cancer
3. Mechanism that prevents lethal bacteria from causing invasive disease is revealed
4. Bringing the bling to antibacterials
5. A first: Scientists show bacteria can evolve a biological timer to survive antibiotics
6. Marine bacteria are natural source of chemical fire retardants
7. Slaying bacteria with their own weapons
8. Sequencing efforts miss DNA crucial to bacterias disease causing power
9. New material improves wound healing, keeps bacteria from sticking
10. Biology of infection: A bacterial ballistic system
11. Invention prevents contamination of food packaging by bacterial biofilms
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
When faced with some sugars, bacteria can be picky eaters
(Date:1/25/2016)... , Jan. 25, 2016  Glencoe Software, the world-leading ... and publication industries, will provide the data management solution ... (NPSC). ... Phenotypic analysis measures the ... organisms, allowing comparisons between states such as health and ...
(Date:1/20/2016)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... research, is pleased to announce the attainment of record-setting ... result of the company,s laser focus on (and growing ... it,s comprehensive, easy-to-use and highly affordable cloud-based technology platform. ... MedNet growth achievements in 2015 include: , ...
(Date:1/13/2016)... , January 13, 2016 ... the addition of the  "India Biometrics ... & Forecast (2015-2020)"  report to ... ) has announced the addition of ... Market - Estimation & Forecast (2015-2020)" ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/5/2016)... 5, 2016 Australian-US drug discovery and development company, ... appointment of a new Chairman, Mr John O,Connor , ... immediately. James Garner , has also been ... former Acting CEO, Mr Iain Ross , will resume ... --> James Garner , has also been formally appointed ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... Shimadzu Scientific Instruments will showcase ... demos and poster sessions, and present on the analysis of mycotoxins and medical ... 6 to 10 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... PARK, Calif. , Feb. 4, 2016   DelMar ... biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of new ... 18 th Annual BIO CEO & Investor Conference ... in New York, NY . ... an update on the ongoing clinical trial of VAL-083 ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016 Sinovac Biotech Ltd. ... leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in China ... its board of directors received on February 4, 2016 ... from a consortium comprised of PKU V-Ming ( ... Co., Ltd., CICC Qianhai Development ( Shenzhen ...
Breaking Biology Technology: