New research, headed by microbiologists from the University of Georgia, show for the first time that Salmonella – a widespread and often deadly bacterial pathogen – use molecular hydrogen to grow and become virulent. The discovery represents a way that diseases caused by Salmonella and other enteric infections could be lessened or even eliminated.
The research, just published in the journal Infection and Immunity, was led by Rob Maier, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Ramsey Professor of Microbiology at UGA. Other authors of the paper from UGA were and researcher Adriana Olczak and research coordinator Susan Maier; and Shilpa Soni and John Gunn from Ohio State University. "This builds on our earlier findings that major human pathogens are using an unexpected energy source," said Maier. "This new work expands our knowledge that molecular hydrogen is very important in the process of diseases caused by these organisms."
Such enteric pathogens as Salmonella are responsible for an estimated 2 million deaths a year and cause millions more cases of diarrheal illnesses, even in developed countries. Maier was the first to discover that hydrogen is not lost from the body as a waste product, as researchers previously thought, but remains at substantial levels and is an energy source for pathogenic bacteria. This knowledge that human pathogens can grow on hydrogen while residing in an animal may have profound implications for the treatment of some diseases.
Kim Carlyle | EurekAlert!
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