Scientists have deduced that bacteria becomes increasingly infectious when moving from one host cell to another host cell as a means of survival.
In an unusual experiment, University of Vienna researchers observed in real-time how bacteria adapted to a new host and became ever more infections over hundreds of generations.
The findings, which have helped scientists understand how bacteria mutates into a dangerous form, were published in the journal PNAS.
The two bacteria tests
Half of the bacteria which was studied were subjected to conditions where in order to survive, new host cells had to be repeatedly infected.
The other half were enabled to multiply indefinitely within the same host cell.
What was found is that after 500 generations, the first group had evolved to become far more effective at infecting new hosts.
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Vienna microbial ecologist Paul Herrera underlined the significance of the findings, stating:
“Our results reveal that if the bacteria are able to remain within one host cell and ensure that they continue to live in the daughter cells of the host when the host cell divides, their infectivity does not change.
“However, bacteria become increasingly infectious when they have to move from one host cell to another host cell in order to survive.”
By the end of the experiment, the two groups’ genetic code showed differentiation at 1,161 different sites.
The more infectious group exhibited 2,500 different genes which made it more effective at not only infecting cells, but also at surviving between hosts.