Keyword Tag Sort by

Categories: Bacteria Bacterial infection Biochemistry

Researchers capture bacterial infection on film

Researchers have developed a new technique that allows them to make a movie of bacteria infecting their living host.

Whilst most studies of bacterial infection are done after the death of the infected organism, this system developed by scientists at the University of Bath and University of Exeter is the first to follow the progress of infection in real-time with living organisms.

The researchers used developing fruit fly embryos as a model organism, injecting fluorescently tagged bacteria into the embryos and observing their interaction with the insect’s immune system using time-lapse confocal microscopy.

The researchers can also tag individual bacterial proteins to follow their movement and determine their specific roles in the infection process.

The scientists are hoping to use this system in the future with human pathogens such as Listeria and Trypanosomes. By observing how these bacteria interact with the immune system, researchers will gain a better understanding of how they cause an infection and could eventually lead to better antibacterial treatments.

Confocal microscope image showing insect immune cells (green) containing E.coli bacteria (red). Click to see movie

Confocal microscope image showing insect immune cells (green) containing E.coli bacteria (red). Click to see movie 
(University of Bath)

Dr Will Wood, Research Fellow in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Bath, explained: “Cells often behave very differently once they have been taken out of their natural environment and cultured in a petri dish.

“In the body, immune surveillance cells such as hemocytes (or macrophages in vertebrates) are exposed to a battery of signals from different sources. The cells integrate these signals and react to them accordingly.

“Once these cells are removed from this complex environment and cultured in a petri dish these signals are lost. Therefore it is really important to study whole organisms to fully understand how bacteria interact with their host.”

Dr Nick Waterfield, co-author on the study and Research Officer at the University of Bath, said: “To be able to film the microscopic battle between single bacterial cells and immune cells in a whole animal and in real time is astounding.

“It will ultimately allow us to properly understand the dynamic nature of the infection process.”

Professor Richard Ffrench-Constant, Professor of Molecular Natural History at the University of Exeter, added: “For the first time this allows us to actually examine infection in real time in a real animal - it’s a major advance!”

The study, published in PLoS Pathogens, was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council.

Contact: Vicky Just, University Press Office, 44 (0) 1225 386883

Source: University of Bath

Related News:

Detour leads to antibiotic resistance 1 April 2014, 05:54
LMU researchers have used cryo-electron microscopic imaging to characterize the structural...

Bugs without borders: Researchers track the emergence and global... 10 December 2012, 08:34
Researchers show that the global epidemic of Clostridium difficile 027/NAP1/BI in the early to...

Novel Pathogen Epidemic Identified in Sub-Saharan Africa 1 October 2012, 04:29
Researchers track the spread of human invasive non-Typhoidal Salmonella in sub-Saharan Africa.A...

UCLA scientists discover how key enzyme involved in aging, cancer... 20 June 2012, 04:34
UCLA biochemists have mapped the structure of a key protein–RNA complex that is required for...

New Test to Detect Arsenic Contamination in Drinking Water 1 June 2012, 04:44
An economical and easy-to-use biosensor could reduce the chance of being poisoned by arsenic –...

Bacteria Discovery Could Lead to Antibiotics Alternatives 3 May 2012, 07:59
Scientists have discovered an Achilles heel within our cells that bacteria are able to exploit to...

E. Coli Bacteria Engineered to Eat Switchgrass and Make... 1 December 2011, 04:53
Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) Researchers Reach Milestone on the Road to Biofuels.A milestone...

Caltech Researchers Find Pulsating Response to Stress in Bacteria 3 November 2011, 05:20
PASADENA, Calif.— If the changing seasons are making it chilly inside your house, you might...

More Power to the Cranberry: Study Shows the Juice is Better than... 27 October 2011, 11:44
With scientific evidence now supporting the age-old wisdom that cranberries, whether in sauce or...

Scientists create computing building blocks from bacteria and DNA 19 October 2011, 12:56
Scientists have successfully demonstrated that they can build some of the basic components for...