TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Researcher poses hypothesis for antibiotic-resistant bacteria

A researcher from the University of Granada recently formulated a new hypothesis that non-resistant bacteria accidentally become resistant to antibiotics because they take up the DNA of resistant bacteria during antibiotic use.

Mohammed Bakkali, a scientist in the Genetics Department at the Faculty of Science at the university, theorizes that the use of antibiotics can even cause non-resistant bacteria to become resistant when they take up the DNA of others that are already resistant. When a non-resistant bacterium encounters antibiotics, it may respond to the stress through bacterial motility and taking up more DNA from other bacteria than usual.

"In this way, the non-resistant bacteria become resistant completely by accident on ingesting this DNA and can even become much more virulent, partly due to the stress we subject them to when we make an abusive use of antibiotics," Bakkali said.

In normal circumstances, a bacterium does not take up much DNA because it cannot discern which DNA is useful or safe. The stress caused by antibiotics induces the uptake of genetic material that may increase antibiotic resistance.

Bakkali said that when a bacterium takes up DNA from another antibiotic-resistant bacterium, the original bacterium then becomes resistant to the antibiotic.

"Thus, the bacteria can go on adding to their arsenal of resistance to antibiotics and end up being resistant to a wide range of them, such as is the case of the multi-resistant strain of a staphylococcus, called Staphylococcus aurius, which creates havoc in many operating theaters," Bakkali said.

Bakkali recently published his theory in Archives of Microbiology.