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The more, the merrier

I once said in a grad speech I delivered during med school that misery loves company. In this case, it involves Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which, in a research published, by scientists from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was shown to communicate distress signals to one another in order to evade antibiotics.

The reported behavior was caused by tobramycin, an antibiotic commonly used in clinical settings, and resulted in a dual signal response. As this antibiotic was applied to a colony of P. aeruginosa, the bacteria produced a signal to a localized area of the colony—a Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) that is known to occur—as well as a second, community-wide response, known as the alkyl hydroxyquinoline (AQNO).

The team mapped production of each response spatially, and determined that P. aeruginosa is capable of producing PQS in small pockets at significantly higher concentrations than previously recorded.

Pseudomonas is notorious, the cause of many hospital-acquired infections, its presence a harbinger of prolonged hospital stay and administration of strong IV antibiotics. To a young medical resident, it meant a longer patient list to do rounds on!

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