Feared: Multi-resistant staphylococci can cause fatal infections. But other bacteria also know how to defend themselves against antibiotics.
Bacteria that are insensitive to antibiotics are among the greatest health risks. Researchers at the University of Giessen are investigating how such resistance develops.
MJustus Liebig University microbiologists have discovered a new mechanism that makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The researchers investigated how nodule bacteria of the genus Sinorhizobium protect themselves against defense substances from plants and other microorganisms. Nodule bacteria live on roots and make nitrogen available to plants from the air, but to do so they have to overcome the lines of defense of their symbiotic partners.
As the scientists found out, Sinorhizobium binds antibiotics and bioactive plant compounds with the help of RNA and a peptide in complexes. These ensure that certain messenger RNAs are broken down in the bacterial cell.
Reservoir for resistance mechanisms
This in turn increases the activity of genes that are necessary for the production of special molecular pumps. These pumps can move antibiotics out of the bacteria. With the help of the RNA, the microbes could, so to speak, sense substances that are dangerous for them, according to the Giessen biologists.
In their opinion, the results show that soil bacteria are a reservoir for resistance mechanisms. It also shows that antibiotics can interact with unexpected molecular partners in bacterial cells. This opens up new perspectives for the research, use and detection of antimicrobial substances.