Bacteria drumming against antibacterial resistance

Bacteria drumming against antibacterial resistance

Zen philosophers may think of the sound of a hand clapping, but researchers have recorded the sound of bacteria playing a drum.

Moreover, this acoustic survey can provide another tool in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

According to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on the subject: “Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to global health, food security and development today.

“Bacteria, not humans or animals, become resistant to antibiotics. These bacteria can infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are more difficult to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.

To determine whether bacteria become resistant to an antibiotic, researchers need to know if the drugs can effectively kill a bacteria.

By recording the sounds of bacteria playing on a microscopic drum, researchers at TU Delft, the Netherlands, led by Dr. Farbod Alijani, were able to effectively check the health of the bacteria using sound. Their work was published yesterday in the journal Nature’s nanotechnology.

So how can a bacterium hit a drum?

The researchers were originally studying the drum, which is a form of carbon called graphene, not the beater.

“Graphene is a form of carbon made up of a single layer of atoms and is also known as the miracle material,” says Alijani. “It’s very strong with nice electrical and mechanical properties, and it’s also extremely sensitive to outside forces.”

To test this sensitivity, the team decided to see what would happen if graphene encountered a single biological object… a single E. coli bacteria.

“What we saw was startling!” Alijani said. “When a single bacterium adheres to the surface of a graphene drum, it generates random oscillations with amplitudes as low as a few nanometers that we could detect. We could hear the sound of a single bacteria.

The majority of the oscillations were driven by the flagella of E. coli. Flagella are the tail-like or hair-like structures on the cell surface that wiggle and twist, propelling the cell.

“To understand how tiny these flagellar beats on graphene are, it has to be said that they are at least 10 billion times smaller than a boxer’s punch when it hits a punching bag,” says Alijani. “Yet these nanoscale beats can be converted to soundtracks and listened to – and isn’t that cool?”

But how can the bacteria that have caught the rhythm be used to fight disease?

This research is still in its infancy, but Alijani and his team hope it can be used to identify bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.

When a resistant bacterium was exposed to antibiotics on the graphene drum, its oscillations continued at the same level – the beating did not stop.

But when the bacteria were sensitive to a drug, the rhythm died with the bacteria. After exposure to antibiotics, these dying bacteria would beat a song of operatic length if not operatic magnitude. The vibrations they were creating slowly diminished over the course of an hour or two until they finally stopped.

The marvel of this technology is that it can detect antibiotic resistance at the level of a single cell.

“Going forward, we aim to optimize our single-cell graphene antibiotic susceptibility platform and validate it against a variety of pathogen samples,” says Alijani. “Thus, it may eventually be used as an effective diagnostic toolkit for the rapid detection of antibiotic resistance in clinical practice. “It would be an invaluable tool in the fight against antibiotic resistance, a growing threat to human health around the world.

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