Fun Science FRIEDay – Drug Resistant Bacteria, The Movie

In today’s FSF we bring you both a jaw dropping, and somewhat terrifying cinematic visualization of how bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics, and overtime can become super bugs immune to any antibiotic treatment.  A concise and detailed description is presented below:

This stunning video of evolution in action captures how bacteria with no resistance to an antibiotic can in a very short time become resistant to concentrations of more than a thousand times the initial concentration. Other scientists have documented this phenomenon before, but never with such vivid clarity as that provided by Michael Bay and Roy Kishony of Harvard University.

The device Bay and Kishony use is essentially a giant agar plate (a plate with nutrients used to culture microorganisms), modified so that bacteria growth can be readily visualized through video. It is known as the Microbial Evolution and Growth Arena plate or MEGA-plate. The beauty and ingenuity of the MEGA-plate is it provides a vivid depiction of a very real problem: it shows just how easily and readily bacteria can flout our medicines, and serves as a warning about the challenges modern medicine faces to combat ever evolving bacteria.

Depiction of bacteria evolution to antibiotics (Photo Credit: Michael Baym)

Depiction of bacteria evolution to antibiotics (Photo Credit: Michael Baym)

Fortunately, work by Bay, Kishony, and others can help us better understand bacteria evolution to drugs in the hopes of being able to develop more efficient methods of treatment as the bacteria become more resistant.

This work was recently published in the journal Science, and is well worth a read.

Happy FSF!