When a vampire sucking the life out is a good thing

vampire bacteria acting like an antibioticThe odds of you being bitten by a vampire, are probably slim and none, but the fear of being sucked dry, is not necessarily completely unfounded – think mosquitoes and bed bugs.   

Even bacteria need to watch out for these scary monsters………   

Vampires exist in the microbial world

The bacterium, Micavibrio aeruginosavorus, stepped out from the underworld nearly 30 years ago, when researchers discovered this vampire-like bacterium in wastewater.

But, keeping a vampire happy in a lab, proved to be a little problematic, so little was known about this creature from the dark side, until now.

Researchers from the University of Virginia College of Arts & Sciences have applied modern biotechnological tools to this unusual creature that makes a living by sucking other bacteria DRY. The research team have completed the sequencing of it’s genome.

Feeding off others

Most bacteria do things very civilized, they mop up nutrients in the neighbourhood.  M.aeruginosavorus is far more predatory by nature.  It seeks out other bacteria, then sinks its “teeth”,  deep into the cell wall of it’s victim and sucks out the cellular fluids, slowly and systematically.

The feast ends with it suitably fattened up and an empty bacterial shell on the floor.

The victims of this vampire are often just ordinary bacteria, but not always, it sometimes targets the BAD guys, pathogenic bacteria that cause disease in humans.

Keeping a vampire on stand by

The observation that M.aeruginosavorus can kill bad guys, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosavorus,  a bad guy which causes serious lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients, has captured the attention of the Virginia College team.

Could these vampire bacteria be harnessed to kill bad guys only, avoiding the dilemma of killing the good, the bad and the ugly, the downfall of antibiotics.

Vampire’s can fly

The advantages of using predatory bacteria as “antibiotics” are many…………

  • It is probably quite hard to develop resistance to something that hunts you down, so the escalating problem of drug-resistance is likely to be side stepped.
  • Fellow bacteria can go places drugs can’t always go.  P.aeruginosavorus, the cystic fibrosis nasty, typically hides under layers of mucus and goo.  Penetrating the protective biofilm is almost impossible for most antibiotics, but a forceful swipe of it’s powerful  flagella, allows M.aeruginosavorus to swim through the mucus and  ATTACK.

Harnessing a vampire

Deciphering the genetic code that drives these bacterial vampires, is the first step to harnessing these predators in the fight against pathogens.  Harnessing the vampire will take years of work.

But, you don’t need a vampire to suck the life out of the bad guys.   A collection of good bacteria often keeps the riff raff out and keeps the radioactive fall out at bay.  

Cultivate your microflora – make your body a comfy place to live and then feed and seed.   

Genomic insights into an obligate epibiotic bacterial predator: Micavibrio aeruginosavorus ARL-13. BMC Genomics, 2011; 12 (1): 453 Zhang Wang, Daniel E Kadouri, Martin Wu.
 

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Further reading

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The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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