Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States have uncovered how certain types of bacteria can adapt to prolonged exposure to antibiotics by changing their shape. The work was published in the journal Nature Physics. This was announced in a press release published on the Phys.org website.
In the course of the experiments, the cells of the bacteria Caulobacter crescentus were exposed to the antibiotic chloramphenicol at doses below lethal. After several generations, the microorganisms changed their shape, which served as an adaptation to the toxic substance. The bacteria became wider and more curved, which lowered the ratio of membrane surface to cell volume. As a result, fewer antibiotic molecules passed through the membrane.
It is estimated that drug-resistant microorganisms, including superbugs, will kill 10 million people by 2050. Almost every person on Earth has come across bacteria that are resistant to any antibiotics, but in most cases it is still possible to find another, effective antibiotic. One of the reasons for the emergence of resistance is the misuse of antibacterial drugs, including ignoring the full course of treatment and trying to treat viral infections.