Aiming to thwart persistent bacterial infections and better control group behaviors of certain microorganisms, scientists are creating artificial chemicals that infiltrate and sabotage bacterial "mobs."
Reporting the work here today (March 13) at the 229th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry professor Helen Blackwell described the ongoing construction of a new class of molecules that conduct such chemical warfare.
Targeting natural signaling mechanisms in bacterial cells, Blackwell aims to ultimately control the formation of biofilms, goo-like amalgamations of bacteria that are widespread in nature and have serious implications for agriculture and human health. Biofilms form the green slime on rocks, the plaque on human teeth and the slippery film on ship hulls. If a single cell were analogous to one man, biofilms would be the "bacterial equivalent of mob mentality," says Blackwell.
Helen Blackwell | EurekAlert!
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