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Bacteria develop resistance from rivals - study
The overuse of antibiotics may not be exclusively responsible for antibiotic resistance.

Research works to tackle antibiotic resistance

The overuse of antibiotics may not be exclusively responsible for antibiotic resistance, according to new research.

The study by the University of Basel found that bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics from their competitors.
Writing in Cell Reports, researchers show that some bacteria inject a toxic cocktail into their rivals leading to cell lysis and death.

Researchers also found that if the released material contains certain drug-resistant genes, the specific resistance can be bestowed upon the new owner. As such, the antibiotic is no longer effective and the bacteria can reproduce.

“Some of these toxic proteins kill the bacterial competition very effectively, but do not destroy the cells,” explained Professor Marek Basler, who led the research. “Others severely damage the cell envelope, which leads to less of the attacked bacteria and hence the release of its genetic material.”

In the study, the researchers analysed the drug-resistant bacterium Acinetobacter baumanni - a typical hospital germ that originated during the Iraq war. The bacteria is also known as the ‘Iraq bug’ because it was spread by American soldiers returning home from combat.

The team found that the emergence and spread of multidrug resistance could be attributed - amongst other things - to the skills of certain bacteria. First, the bacteria combat their rivals by injecting them with toxic proteins - or effectors - using the type VI secretion system (T6SS), a poison syringe. Second, they are able to uptake and reuse the released genetic material.

In the model Acinetobacter baylyi, a close relative of the Iraq bug, Professor Basler’s team identified five differently acting toxic effectors.

“For the bacteria it makes absolute sense to produce not only a single toxin, but a cocktail of various toxins with different effects,” Basler explains. “This increases the likelihood that the rival can be successful and in some cases also lysed to release their DNA.”

Professor Basler added that the T6SS 'can also be found in other pathogens such as those which cause pneumonia or cholera'.

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Newborn okapi named after Meghan Markle

News Story 1
 An endangered okapi recently born at London Zoo has been named Meghan - after Prince Harry’s fiancé Meghan Markle - in celebration of the upcoming royal wedding. Okapis are classed as endangered in the wild, having suffered ongoing declines since 1995. Zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said: “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.” Image © ZSL London Zoo  

News Shorts
Ten new cases of Alabama rot confirmed

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists has confirmed 10 new cases of Alabama rot, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 122.

In a Facebook post, the referral centre said the cases were from County Durham, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Sussex, West Somerset, Devon, and Powys.

Pet owners are urged to remain vigilant and seek advice from their vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions/sores.