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 Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>