In a simple, yet profound experiment researchers at Harvard Medical School have produced a visual aid that should hopefully help increase the frequency with which people understand and accept the theory of Evolution.
E.Coli evolve quickly
Here we see a population of E.Coli evolve antibiotic resistance over about 11 days. As bacteria work their way towards the center of the massive culture plate, population members produce mutations that allow them to survive the ever increasing antibiotic concentrations.
The ability for bacteria to evolve resistance to increasing concentrations of antibiotics is a serious problem for the global health community. The Australian government has dedicated a webpage well worth reading to explaining the problem.
And its worth pointing out that these bacteria had to have evolved. Evolution is the result of inevitable genetic changes between related individuals across a population, and the only way for successive generations to literally survive across these different environments is to accumulate a mutation somewhere in the population that causes stronger resistance to the molecular effects of the antibiotic molecule.
I’ll wrap up this short post with the following recommendation on how to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria:
Ways to prevent antibiotic resistance
The most important ways to prevent antibiotic resistance are:
- Minimize unnecessary prescribing and over prescribing of antibiotics. This occurs when people expect doctors to prescribe antibiotics for a viral illness (antibiotics do not work against viruses) or when antibiotics are prescribed for conditions that do not require them.
- Complete the entire course of any prescribed antibiotic so that it can be fully effective and not breed resistance.
- Practice good hygiene and use appropriate infection control procedures.
Let people know – don’t take random antibiotics, and certainly don’t take them to fight a viral infection such as the common cold!