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 from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

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?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.