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"Why a bacterial army marches on its stomach"

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By any metric that you care to apply, bacteria are the most successful organisms on the planet. Some species have even evolved to become pathogenic. In this talk, we’ll focus on the life, loves and fancies of a one particular opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Given the chance, this bug can (and does) infect almost any soft tissue,and poses a particular problem for people with chronic lung disease. Unfortunately, the organism is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics – to the extent that there are now few, if any drugs left to treat the infections caused by some strains. This is an issue, because Pseudomonas loves the built environment, and many of us are exposed to it on a daily basis. However, there is hope. It turns out that Pseudomonas has a particular predilection for consuming fat, especially in infection scenarios. This consumed fat is metabolized to yield both energy and biomass. It turns out that this may well be an Achilles heel, and is exploitable as a drug target. We’ll also cover some related topics, including how we can step on the gas pedal (or slam on the brakes) of evolution in this bug, how growth alongside other airway inhabitants can drastically alter the susceptibility of Pseudomonas to antibiotics, and how a “master regulator” (a sort of “one ring to rule them all” in Tolkien-speak) controls virulence and AMR . See you all next week.

This talk is part of the Biochemistry Friday Seminars series.

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