I just found this wonderfully instructive paper on concepts of bacterial ecology that are relevant to the antimicrobial resistance problem (doi: 10.1086/340245,link). The author mentioned the existence of genes conferring resistance to metallic ions like copper, which reminded me of the discussion about copper surfaces from TWiM episode 1. I hate to ask because it involves chemistry which we ALL took ages ago, but could you comment on this? (Dr. Maloy?)
A lot of papers about copper resistance in bacteria came out before Y2K, such as the above paper's reference # 47. But this paper just talks about metabolism of ionic copper, which is different than metallic or solid state copper (if I remember right). However, a 2004 paper (link) in BMC Microbiology suggests that metallic copper releases copper ions which are transferred into bacterial cells when a bacterial suspension is incubated in a copper vessel.
So, is it futile to celebrate the antimicrobial properties of copper surfaces, or is metallic copper reliably antibacterial by brute force, able to overcome any resistance gene that lets bacteria metabolize copper ions?
I am not sure if the BBC programme Horizon is available in America but I found the recent edition on combating antibiotic resistant bacteria was very interesting. Of particular note were the interviews with Dr David Harper of AmpliPhi BioSciences in England on the development of bacteriophages to fight bacterial infections and Professor Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University who is investigating using antagonists to bacterial quorum sensing compounds to moderate their pathological effects.
It is always a delight hear Vincent chairing these informal and incredibly informative podcast discussions of microbiology. The world should be eternally grateful for what he is achieving and making so accessible both through smart phone streaming and on the web. He engages his panelists enthusiastically as they discuss a wide range of topics important to understanding the diversity of microbes and their to understanding infection, ecology and even climate!
Hearing Elio is particularly rewarding as he is, dare I say, even more articulate than Vincent as he explains his topics clearly in terms that non-experts can understand and, importantly, puts these into historical context.
I do hope that this message is communicated to the shows sponsor, ASM.
Keep up the great work!
Hi, Of course, I immensely enjoy the podcasts. Thanks for making front-line science so accessible and informative. This is something America, society needs -- a more intimate, clear-eyed look at science and scientists in action.
Are there transcripts available for the TWIM podcasts? If not, is this something planned or in process? If not, I would help transcribe and index the text to the audio/video files.
Why do only a few bacteria out of billions act as endophytes by entering tissues of plants?