Monday, 12 Sep 2016 b — Watch bacteria quickly evolve to resist an antibiotic


Historian: This paper (above) published in Science Friday [Science 353, 1147-1151 (2016)] gives a fascinating view of bacteria quickly evolving resistance to an antibiotic while we watch. You can watch a huge number of bacteria die at boundaries with increasing concentrations of antibiotic while a tiny few and their descendents with mutations helping them resist carry on and thrive.

Physicist: Their key "MEGA plate" innovation allows detailed study of the evolutionary dynamics. One interesting detail is that some mutations which were more resistant to the antibiotic than the surviving mutations got trapped and did not survive. It is not "survival of the fittest" after all. You can see the key innovation and that quick evolution via the link below.

MEGA plate evolution [link]