Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Flu vaccination protects bacteria against virus

Bacteria – like people animals and plants – can become infected by a virus. Researchers at Wageningen University, together with colleagues from England and the United States, have unravelled a mechanism with which bacteria can defend themselves for a longer period against threatening viruses.

Over the long term, this research offers possibilities to protect bacteria used in industrial processes against viral infections by giving them a 'flu vaccination'. The researchers will publish their findings in the journal Science on 15 August.

The mechanism that bacteria use to protect themselves against viruses was discovered last year. In an ingenious fashion, the bacteria build pieces of viral DNA into their own DNA. The 'adopted' segment of DNA works like a snapshot in a photo album, a type of memory that reminds the bacteria during a subsequent encounter with the same virus. At that point, the viral DNA is recognised, after which the bacteria set a system into operation that ultimately leads to the breakdown of the virus. Until recently, the operation of this system was a mystery.

The team of researchers from Wageningen, Sheffield (UK) and Bethesda (USA) succeeded in unravelling the operation of this defence system. In recent years, researchers Stan Brouns, Matthijs Jore, Magnus Lundgren and John van der Oost (Laboratory of Microbiology of Wageningen University) identified six bacterial proteins involved in the defence system. These proteins help the bacteria use the built-in virus fragment to prevent a virus infection. The researchers determined that one of the proteins cuts the 'virus snapshot' out of the photo album, and together with the other five proteins, compares the snapshot with the DNA of the invading virus. In the same way, other viruses in the photo album can also be rendered harmless.

With this knowledge, it is theoretically possible to protect bacteria against problematic viruses. This can be compared to a flu vaccination for bacteria. Potential applications include industrial fermentation processes, where bacteria that produce a useful substance are protected against viral infection by means of a 'vaccination' . By reversing the process, the protective mechanism of bacteria can also be deactivated. This could lead to a strategy where viruses can be used to combat bacteria that have developed an advanced form of antibiotic resistance, such as the hospital bacteria.

All animals, plants and bacteria run the risk of being infected by specific viruses. For humans, such viruses include the flu virus, for the tobacco plant this is the tobacco mosaic virus and for the intestinal bacterium E. coli this is the enterobacteria phage lambda. During the course of evolution, these organisms have developed systems to render viruses harmless. Viruses respond by adapting themselves in such a way that they avoid the defence mechanism, to which the bacteria respond in turn. In short, there is a continuous arms race between bacteria and viruses.

Jac Niessen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>