New Notre Dame paper provides novel insights into pathogen conduct

Pseudomonas aeruginosa Pseudomonas aeruginosa

A new study by a crew of researchers that involves University of Notre Dame scientists Joshua Shrout and Mark Alber provides new insights into the conduct of an important bacterial pathogen.

Alber, Vincent J. Duncan Family members Professor of Utilized Mathematics, and Shrout, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences, studied Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen responsible for each acute and persistent infections.

“While this ubiquitous environmental bacterium seldom infects healthier men and women, it is a typical pathogen amongst vulnerable populations, this kind of as men and women with cystic fibrosis, burn up victims, ventilator patients and individuals who have had intestinal reconstruction,” Shrout explained. “Pseudomonas aeruginosa is between the most common hospital-acquired infection pathogens and triggers of death for intensive care unit individuals.”

The researchers investigated, utilizing mixture of experiments and computational modeling, how bacteria swarm in groups containing hundreds of thousands of cells.

“We show in this paper that appendages of this bacterium called ‘pili’ website link together to alter group motion and give swarming groups a kind of braking power,” Alber explained. “These bacterial swarms are capable to modify their motion as a group to stay away from harmful toxins. We showed this by demonstrating that bacteria with pili will stay away from an region containing antibiotic — but cells without having these pili do not slow their motion, swarm into the antiobiotic area, and are killed.”

Though the research targeted on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the final results possibly provide insights into the habits of other bacteria.

“This is a very fundamental discovery that provides us insight into the response and management of bacteria that alter their habits as an complete group,” Shrout mentioned. “This knowledge may possibly be helpful to comprehend how pathogens and other bacteria can evade compounds we may use to management them and advance our comprehending of how some infections become so hard to cure.”

“The following methods are to far more particularly decide how personal cells are behaving in these swarming groups to detail how they coordinate their movement and then apply this expertise to recognize colonization of various types of surfaces such as human cells or medical plastics,” Alber explained.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The research was funded by a grant from the Nationwide Institutes of Wellness.

Speak to: Joshua Shrout, 574-631-1726, Mark Alber, 574-631-8371,

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