Understanding more about the formation of bacterial biofilms
Nausea, indigestion, stomach pain. These are all the unpleasant symptoms of chronic gastritis, which can be caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. H.pylori infection is hard to treat, in part because it can form biofilms – near-impenetrable barriers of bacteria. Researchers try to better understand the genetics of how this happens by growing normal H.pylori (pictured) and mutants on epithelial cells in a plastic dish, as captured using scanning electron microscopy. Mutants were selected that couldn’t form biofilms. The underlying genetic defects pinpointed genes involved in a variety of processes. This revealed the importance of these processes in H.pylori biofilm formation, specifically the reshaping of projections called flagella, acetone metabolism and the activity of enzymes called hydrogenases. H.pylori, therefore, appears to change its metabolism and its flagella when forming biofilms. These insights may help in the development of treatments to break down these notorious bacterial barriers.
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