Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

In 2017 we celebrated five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

How Resistance Arises
18 January 2015

How Resistance Arises

The ability of infectious bacteria to quickly evolve resistance to antibiotic drugs is a major problem. Some strains can withstand every antibiotic we have, and we’re struggling to come up with new versions. One reason is that we don’t fully understand how bugs make themselves impervious. But now researchers are revealing some of the steps involved. When Escherichia coli is exposed to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, it changes its usual rod shape into elongated filaments (pictured), each containing multiple chromosomes. Here, mutations are induced that eventually produce mutant chromosomes with resistance to ciproflaxacin. Finally, the filament divides repeatedly at the tip, giving rise to antibiotic-resistant offspring cells. It’s not clear how the cells know when to stop shuffling DNA and start dividing. But it seems that the generation of multiple mutant chromosomes in the filaments is vital in the development of antibiotic resistance.

Written by Daniel Cossins

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More