‘Vampyre’ Bacteria Have Potential as Living Antibiotic!

I was sitting around the library, minding my own business, when a dear friend of mine (who also happens to be the librarian) came over to me and said, “You’re really going to like this!”

She directed me to one of my favourite websites, ScienceDaily.com. Somehow in all the Halloween hullabaloo, I missed this little gem of an article… Fighting Fire With Fire: ‘Vampire’ Bacteria Have Potential as Living Antibiotic!

Once again, it’s kudos and congrats to our intrepid research biologists… and a tip of the lid to the folks over at ScienceDaily.com!

This week’s Award for Excellence in Vampyre-Related Research goes to… (drumroll, please)…

University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences biologist and chief researcher Martin Wu and graduate student Zhang Wang!

What is it, you inquire, that they discovered? I am SO glad you asked!

(Vampyre bacterium Micavibrio aeruginosavorus [yellow] preying on Pseudomonas aeruginosa)

The ScienceDaily article reports, “A vampire-like bacterium that leeches onto specific other bacteria – including certain human pathogens – has the potential to serve as a living antibiotic for a range of infectious diseases.”

Scientists have known for 30 years that the bacterium, Micavibrio aeruginosavorus, inhabites wastewater but they haven’t extensively studied it because it’s so difficult to culture and investigate the darn thing using traditional microbiology techniques. In short, growing the little beastie was a big pain in the microbial tush!

Fortunately for us, Messrs. Wu and Wang were undaunted and their study may pay off big in terms of human health.

The research microbiologists studied and decoded the bacterium’s genome and are learning “how it makes its living,” Wu said.

You see, this little bacterium ‘makes its living’ by seeking out prey – namely, certain other bacteria – and then attaching itself to its victim’s cell wall and essentially sucking out nutrients. Unlike most other bacteria, which draw nutrients from their surroundings, M. aeruginosavorus can survive and propagate only by drawing its nutrition from specific prey bacteria. This bacteria kills its prey – making it a potentially powerful agent for destroying pathogens.

(No, my little nerdlings, they don’t look like this. It’d be cool if they did, though!)

Chief researcher Martin Wu adds:

“Pathologists may eventually be able to use this bacterium to fight fire with fire, so to speak, as a bacterium that will aggressively hunt for and attack certain other bacteria that are extremely harmful to humans.

It is possible that a living antibiotic such as M. aeruginosavorus – because it so specifically targets certain pathogens – could potentially reduce our dependence on traditional antibiotics and help mitigate the drug-resistance problem we are now facing.”

In other words, if used properly, the vampyre bacterium will attack a harmful human germ, latching onto it like Eric Northman on a faeire, then suck it dry, killing it. This could revolutionize antibiotics and stop the rise of ‘super bugs!’

Well done, Wu and Wang!

And take that, you pesky pathogens! Your Upcoming Vampyre Apocalypse is on its way!



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