Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

‘Clever’ DNA may help bacteria survive

04.06.2014

Scientists have discovered that bacteria can reshape their DNA to survive dehydration.

The research, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Interface, shows that bacterial DNA can change from the regular double helix – known as B-DNA, to the more compact A-DNA form, when faced with hostile conditions such as dehydration.


A-DNA (left) B-DNA (right)

Crucially, scientists have pinpointed a unique process in DNA, called the B-A-B transition, which allows it to change its structure in response to environmental change. Without impacting on the ability of the bacteria to function and reproduce, this unique structural alteration sees the B-DNA change to A-DNA, and then revert back to its original B-DNA form to ensure the bacteria survive.

Associate Professor Bayden Wood, from Monash University said the study gives vital new information on how bacteria can survive periods of time in arid environments.

“Our findings may be important in understanding how dormant bacteria that are transferred from dry surfaces may become active and reproduce in the human body,’ Associate Professor Wood said.

PhD student and first author of the paper, Donna Whelan said the most common form of DNA found in most organisms is B-DNA. However, the A-form has been thought to show protective qualities to allow bacterial spores to survive high UV exposure and other extreme environmental conditions.

“Our research, which utilised infrared light to investigate the structure of DNA inside live bacteria, demonstrates that bacteria can survive by adopting the A-DNA form after the majority of water is removed – and that really is groundbreaking,” Donna Whelan said.

The new findings build on research led by Associate Professor Wood and Donna Whelan in 2011 at the Australian Synchrotron, which indicated the same B-A-B DNA transition occurs in all cell types. Significantly, the team has now discovered this change may have a biological function in bacteria, potentially assisting them to survive dehydration.

Associate Professor Bayden Wood said the ability for DNA to transform and then change back again in human cells had puzzled scientists until now.

“In human cells the DNA is tightly bound by proteins known as histones, so the fact that it can change to a different form and then change back again is fascinating. We have no biological reason for why this DNA transition happens in human cells, but we may now understand its role in bacteria,” Associate Professor Wood said.

The interdisciplinary team at Monash investigated four species of bacteria using live cells. By carefully hydrating and dehydrating the bacteria and then analysing the cells using an infrared-based technique, which detects the vibrations of DNA, the team found all four species underwent the same B-A-B transition.

Professor Julian Rood, who coordinated the microbiology aspects of the research, said that because the majority of bacteria remained fully functional after hydration and rehydration the results suggest A-DNA may have a highly evolved protective capacity to ensure survival.

“We discovered A-DNA has an amazing ability to protect and ensure life continues even under extreme stress, in this case dehydration. In our tests, even after the majority of water was removed, A-DNA kicked in and then changed back to B-DNA to help the bacteria survive,” Professor Rood said.

The next phase of the research will see the team investigate how bacteria survive other conditions such as temperature, pH levels, oxygen, nutrients and antimicrobials and discover what role the 'clever' DNA plays under these conditions.

Lucy Handford | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://monash.edu.au/news/show/clever-dna-may-help-bacteria-survive

Further reports about: DNA Monash ability bacteria bacterial conditions dehydration function structure transition

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht An evolutionary heads-up – The brain size advantage
22.05.2015 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Endocrine disrupting chemicals in baby teethers
21.05.2015 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.

Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...

Im Focus: IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services

To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...

Im Focus: First electrical car ferry in the world in operation in Norway now

  • Siemens delivers electric propulsion system and charging stations with lithium-ion batteries charged from hydro power
  • Ferry only uses 150 kilowatt hours (kWh) per route and reduces cost of fuel by 60 percent
  • Milestone on the road to operating emission-free ferries

The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...

Im Focus: Into the ice – RV Polarstern opens the arctic season by setting course for Spitsbergen

On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor.

RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters, the scientists on board will focus...

Im Focus: Gel filled with nanosponges cleans up MRSA infections

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA - without the use of antibiotics. The researchers recently published their findings online in Advanced Materials.

To make the nanosponge-hydrogel, the team mixed nanosponges, which are nanoparticles that absorb dangerous toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli and other...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International symposium: trends in spatial analysis and modelling for a more sustainable land use

20.05.2015 | Event News

15th conference of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists

18.05.2015 | Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities

12.05.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

For pollock surveys in Alaska, things are looking up

22.05.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Mission possible: This device will self-destruct when heated

22.05.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

NOAA's GOES-R satellite begins environmental testing

22.05.2015 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>