I have to admit that it is pretty odd “or at least for me” to learn the countless aspects of life itself that we, as human beings, share with primitive organsims “as in bacteria”…& yet add another to the growing pile: The Concept of Hand-in-Hand

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Rarely do bacteria grow as single cells, they rather prefer to grow as colonies which adhere to all kinds of surfaces forming “biofilms“. These biofilms have proved to be pretty effective in maintaining the well-being of the bacteria growing within them and needless to say, this possess a serious threat. Nothing seems to work with them, ranging from disinfectants and antibiotics all the way to our very own immune system.

Scientists, now, have identified a mechanism which is thought to be used by the bacteria, within the biofilm, to protect themselves. Pushing star wars aside, these biofilm bacteria are using chemical weapons as their defense.

Taking a model for this study, researchers compared marine bacteria getting attacked by amoebae to these biofilm bacteria getting attacked by phagocytes.

To take a closer look, these bacteria are easily attacked when they are swimming separately in the water, but once they are attached to a surface, the amoebae can no longer harm them. Not only that, but the amoebae were sometimes de-activated or even killed. A classic example of FIGHTING BACK!!
How do they do it?? Through chemical weapons.

Marine bacteria contain the pigment violacein. If the enemy attacks just a single cell, the pigment is released paralyzing and triggering a suicide mechanism in the amoebae.

Amoebae are thought to be the ancestors of some types of pathogens. So, instead of thinking of biofilms as a problem, they may be source of highly effective agents which can only be produced in a biofilm and can help us fight aganist some of these pathogens.

After all, it IS a small world

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2 Responses to “All for one, One for all”
  1. You’re right, Radwa. Every time I see the word “biofilm”, I remember troubles, remember Dental plaque. But in the link you provided us with, they talk about biofilms like THE solution for water treatment. Of course they might cause infection to artificial hearts, but it’s a minor adverse effect, right?!

  2. Quoting “Sewage treatment plants include a treatment stage in which waste water passes over biofilms grown on filters”

    From what I understand, the water passes through the biofilms, which are in turn grown on filters..so shouldn’t the filters retain those bacteria that have detached from the biofilm while the water was passing through them??
    but certainly, the infection of an artificial heart is serious enough to make some alarms go off…

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