Sleep and mutate
In the antibiotic arms race between bacteria and scientists, the microbes appear to have upped their game once again, according to a research team at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Previous studies showed that, in a bid to avoid being killed by antibiotics, some bacteria were able to evolve a mechanism that kept them dormant until the course of treatment was finished. The solution to this was simply to extend the treatment, but a new study shows that bacteria are now able to lie dormant, then develop resistance 20 times faster than normal as soon as they awaken, rendering longer antibiotic treatments useless. Through further testing, the study suggests that the dormant mode both protects the bacteria from antibiotics, and also acts as a stepping stone for the mutations needed for the microbes to develop resistance. These findings could have important implications for the design and development of new antibiotics, in order to avoid this.