Navigation Links
DNA: Bacteria's survival ration

The ubiquitous bacteria E. coli rank among nature's most successful species for lots of reasons, to which biologists at the University of Southern California have added another: in a pinch, E. coli can feast on the DNA of their dead competitors.

A research team led by Steven Finkel, assistant professor of molecular and computational biology in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, had already shown that DNA is an acceptable source of nutrients for bacteria.

The team's latest study, presented in the June 1 issue of the Journal of Bacteriology, finds that DNA is a critical food source in the battle of the fittest. Bacteria that stay alive just a little longer than their counterparts get a double reward: the competition for food lessens, and the supply of nutrients increases.

"The bacteria actually eat the DNA, and not only that, they can use the DNA as their sole source of nutrition," Finkel said.

In hindsight, it should come as no surprise that DNA can serve as a meal for microbes.

"You're surrounded by living things, and living things die," Finkel said. "Where does all that stuff go? Why aren't we up to our ears in DNA, in ribosomes, in plant protein?

"A lot of decay is microbial, and nobody ever thinks about it."

Finkel calls this phenomenon "nutritional competence" to distinguish it from natural competence, defined as the ability of cells to assimilate waste DNA in order to mutate or repair their genomes.

Natural competence is potentially risky, Finkel said, since bad mutations can result, "but there should be no genetic cost to eating [the DNA]."

The study identified eight genes in E. coli that are necessary for nutritional competence. Without any one of these genes, the bacteria cannot consume DNA and lose their competitive advantage.

"The gene family is found in many other species," the authors reported, "suggesting that the use of DNA as a nutrient may be a widespread pheno menon."

The concept of nutritional competence could have applications to medical research, as the DNA from dead cells in the human body may be sustaining harmful bacteria.

One of the pathogens implicated in cystic fibrosis is suspected of feeding on DNA in lung tissue, Finkel said. Biofilms, which have been linked to chronic infections, also may harbor nutritionally competent germs.

If researchers succeeded in turning off nutritional competence in such pathogens, as Finkel did in E. coli, the advance might lay the groundwork for a new class of genetic antibiotics.

The study did not prove that all DNA decay is microbial. But Finkel discounted the significance of inorganic processes, citing the chemical stability of genetic material. If a thick layer of DNA were exposed to the sun, he said, only molecules at the top would break down chemically, while bacteria would eat the rest from the bottom up.

Nevertheless, Finkel said, DNA remains a backup nutrient for bacteria, being harder to digest than glucose and other simpler food sources.


Source:University of Southern California

Related biology news :

1. The Bacterias guide to survival
2. Boosting HIV screening can increase survival and is cost effective
3. Researchers identify protein crucial for survival of Lyme-disease bacterium
4. Novel protein complex enables survival in hostile environment
5. BiovaxID?yields 89 percent survival in patients with aggressive non-Hodgkins
6. UCI researchers discover key factor for survival of human embryonic stem cells
7. Rhinos clinging to survival in the heart of Borneo, despite poaching
8. New research promising for improving brain cell survival after brain injury
9. AIDS vaccine research offers new insights on survival
10. New path from estrogen to survival in breast cancer cells described
11. Singing for survival
Post Your Comments:

(Date:4/17/2017)... , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K ... Commission. ... 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of the Company,s ... the SEC,s website at . 2016 Year ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 According to a new ... Authentication, Identity Analytics, Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication Type, Deployment Mode, ... IAM Market is expected to grow from USD 14.30 Billion in 2017 ... (CAGR) of 17.3%. ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global ... ... at a CAGR of 30.37% during the period 2017-2021. ... based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. ... the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... Surgical Wound Market with the addition of its newest module, US Hemostats & ... market for thrombin hemostats, absorbable hemostats, fibrin sealants, synthetic sealants and biologic sealants ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... NJ (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... Personal eye wash is a basic ... one eye at a time. So which eye do you rinse first if a dangerous ... have Plum Duo Eye Wash with its unique dual eye piece. , “Whether ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are ... 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by ... in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... For the second time in three years, ... Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to Washington, D.C. Tuesday, October 10th, ... mission is to change the trajectory of STEM education in America by dramatically ...
Breaking Biology Technology: