Monday, May 24, 2021

453 - Phenazine Faciliates Phosphorus Feeding

Pseudomonas aeruginosa
By Y_tambe, CC BY-SA 3.0
This episode: Some bacteria produce antibiotics that can also help them gather more nutrients!

Download Episode (5.0 MB, 7.3 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Diadromus pulchellus toursvirus

News item 1

Antibiotics have saved a lot of lives since they were discovered and used to treat many previously untreatable bacterial infections. But bacteria themselves have been making antibiotics much longer than we have, to help compete in their environment. However, sometimes these compounds are not produced in large enough concentrations to act as antibiotics, killing or inhibiting rival bacteria. Why waste energy on this sublethal production? Are there other functions these molecules can perform?

In this study, bacteria produce an antibiotic called phenazine that can damage cell components by redox reactions, transferring electrons. But it can also help liberate the essential nutrient phosphorus from being bound to insoluble particles, allowing the bacteria to grow better even in the absence of competitors.

Journal Paper:
McRose DL, Newman DK. 2021. Redox-active antibiotics enhance phosphorus bioavailability. Science 371:1033–1037.
Other interesting stories:

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  1. I think this is such an important information thay everyone may know because a lot of people ignore where antibiotics come from and don´t understand the way they act. However, this is much more important for people that actually work in health area because if they make a bad decision about diseases´ treatment (for example with wrong antibiotics) they could be killing patients instead of helping them.

    1. It is good to be thoughtful about the use of antibiotics and whether it will definitely do more good than harm, for sure. However, it is important that I point out that I'm not aware of any evidence that physicians are harming any patients by giving them antibiotics that actually help pathogens to better infect in ways like discussed in this episode.

  2. We cannot ignore the fact that the folly of people for a "cheaper" antibiotic, or because another drug worked better for an acquaintance, and so on. they can change their medication and don't really know what they are doing.