Tuesday 2 June 2020

New insight into bacterial structure to help fight against superbugs

Scientists have produced the first high-resolution images of the structure of the cell wall of bacteria, in a study that could further understanding of antimicrobial resistance.

The findings set a new framework for understanding how bacteria grow and how antibiotics work, overturning previous theories about the structure of the outer bacterial layers.

The images give unprecedented insight into the composition of the bacterial cell wall and will inform new approaches to developing antibiotics in order to combat antibiotic resistance. There are no other examples of studies of the cell wall in any organism at comparable resolution, down to the molecular scale.

The team used an advanced microscopy technique called Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), which works by using a sharp needle to feel the shape of a surface and build an image similar to a contour map, but at the scale of individual molecules.


L. Pasquina-Lemonche, J. Burns, R. D. Turner, S. Kumar, R. Tank, N. Mullin, J. S. Wilson, B. Chakrabarti, P. A. Bullough, S. J. Foster, J. K. Hobbs. The architecture of the Gram-positive bacterial cell wall. Nature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2236-6 

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

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