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Determining How Bacteria Become Immune to Disease

Bacteria and other microorganisms are known for their remarkable ability to become immune to nearly everything thrown at them, and now a new study provides us with some hints of how that's possible.

Short of being cast into the Sun, in Earth's inner core, or in the deepest corners of space, bacteria can endure anywhere you can think of.

They live happily in underwater frozen lakes, miles below the surface of Antarctica, or on the rim of volcanoes. Microbe colonies have also been found in the toxic environment around hydrothermal vents.

But bacteria can also endure in space, where they are battered by cold, vacuum and radiation, as evidenced by new studies conducted on the International Space Station (ISS).

Returning to Earth, the microorganisms prove to be extremely resilient to diseases, other infectious agents, and also to drugs we develop specifically to kill them.

Now, a team of investigators at the Rice University, in the United States, used tools belonging to computational biology to figure our how the bacteria develop and use this ability to adapt.

The influence that phenomena such as natural selection and evolution have on the entire process were also analyzed in fine detail, the team shows in the latest online issue of the esteemed scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

“From a purely scientific perspective, this research is teaching us things we couldn't have imagined just a few years ago, but there's an applied interest in this work as well,” explains scientist Michael Deem.

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