Nav: Home

The solution to antibiotic resistance could be in your kitchen sponge

June 23, 2019

San Francisco, CA - June 23, 2019 - Researchers from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) have discovered bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, living in their kitchen sponges. As the threat of antibiotic resistance increases, bacteriophages, or phages for short, may prove useful in fighting bacteria that cannot be killed by antibiotics alone. The research is presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

A kitchen sponge is exposed to all kinds of different microbes, which form a vast microbiome of bacteria. Phages are the most abundant biological particles on the planet and are typically found wherever bacteria reside. With this understanding, kitchen sponges seemed a likely place to find them.

Students in a research class isolated bacteria from their own used kitchen sponges and then used the bacteria as bait to find phages that could attack it. Two students successfully discovered phages that infect bacteria living in their kitchen sponges. "Our study illustrates the value in searching any microbial environment that could harbor potentially useful phages," said Brianna Weiss, a Life Sciences student at New York Institute of Technology.

The researchers decided to "swap" these two phages and see if they could cross-infect the other person's isolated bacteria. Consequently, the phages did kill the other's bacteria. "This led us to wonder if the bacteria strains were coincidentally the same, even though they came from two different sponges," said Weiss.

The researchers compared the DNA of both isolated strains of bacteria and discovered that they were both members of the Enterobacteriaceae family. These bacteria belong to a rod-shaped group of microbes commonly found in feces, where some cause infections in hospital settings. Although the strains are closely related, when performing biochemical testing they found chemical variations between them.

"These differences are important in understanding the range of bacteria that a phage can infect, which is also key to determining its ability to treat specific antibiotic-resistant infections," said Weiss. "Continuing our work, we hope to isolate and characterize more phages that can infect bacteria from a variety of microbial ecosystems, where some of these phages might be used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections."

This project began as part of an undergraduate research class with seven students at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) in Old Westbury, New York. The course was funded through internal grants provided by (NYIT), which also supported our later work to further characterize the isolated bacteria and bacteriophages. This second phase of our work will be presented on a poster at ASM Microbe on Sunday, June 23rd.
-end-
ASM Microbe is the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held June 20th through 24th in San Francisco, California.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of more than 30,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

American Society for Microbiology

Related Bacteria Articles:

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Detecting bacteria in space
A new genomic approach provides a glimpse into the diverse bacterial ecosystem on the International Space Station.
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
Drug diversity in bacteria
Bacteria produce a cocktail of various bioactive natural products in order to survive in hostile environments with competing (micro)organisms.
Bacteria walk (a bit) like we do
EPFL biophysicists have been able to directly study the way bacteria move on surfaces, revealing a molecular machinery reminiscent of motor reflexes.
Using bacteria to create a water filter that kills bacteria
Engineers have created a bacteria-filtering membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose.
Probiotics are not always 'good bacteria'
Researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering were able to shed light on a part of the human body - the digestive system -- where many questions remain unanswered.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab