Bacteria Can Collectively Resist Antibiotics Study Finds

"A post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries can kill – far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st Century." 

Outlining the serious threat of antimicrobial resistance, a 2014 World Health Organization report states that "a post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries can kill – far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st Century." New findings on antibiotic resistance complicate the issue further.


A team of microbiologists from the University of Groningen have just published a study in which they reveal that the structure of bacterial communities can provide protection for non-antibiotic resistant members. This means that even without inherited antibiotic resistance, genetically susceptible bacteria can survive and even outgrow their resistant counterparts during antibiotic therapy.

The study found that collective resistance develops as certain resistant bacteria take up the antibiotic and deactivate it. As the concentration of the antibiotic drops below a critical level, passive resistance is provided for all bacteria in the environment. 

A video from the experiment shows two types of bacteria – one with an antibiotic resistance gene (Staphylococci bacteria) and one without the resistance gene (Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria) – put together in an antibiotic medium (chloramphenicol). While at first only the resistant bacteria grows and divides, after time the non-resistant starts to divide as well, eventually even outgrowing the resistant one.

The scientists hope to draw attention to less studied areas of antibiotic resistance, namely how the microbial context during infection is a potential complicating factor to antibiotic treatment outcomes.

Photo: PLOS

SpaceX catches Falcon Heavy nosecone with net-outfitted boat

It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
  • A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
  • A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
Keep reading Show less

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

‘Climate apartheid’: Report says the rich could buy out of climate change disaster

The world's richest people could breeze through a climate disaster – for a price.

(Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report from a United Nation expert warns that an over-reliance on the private sector to mitigate climate change could cause a "climate apartheid."
  • The report criticizes several countries, including the U.S., for taking "short-sighted steps in the wrong direction."
  • The world's poorest populations are most vulnerable to climate change even though they generally contribute the least to global emissions.
Keep reading Show less