Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

“Bacterial raincoat” Found to Protect Bacteria from the Environment

Published: Monday, July 29, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, July 29, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Research led by scientists at the University of Dundee has uncovered the workings of a “bacterial raincoat” that helps to protect bacteria from the changing environment in which they live.

Many bacteria grow in large communities called biofilms, where the cells work together and produce a sticky matrix that holds the cells together and provides protection from environmental threats. The team have shown how a bacterium called Bacillus, commonly found in soil, protects itself by forming a water repellent coat. They found that the process is due to a protein produced by the bacterium called BslA. This protein spontaneously assembles to form a water repellent coat, protecting the Bacillus cells underneath. 

As Bacillus subtilis is currently being examined to assess its suitability for use as a widespread bio-fertilizer, the discovery has the potential to aid the development of an ecologically sound method of protecting crops.

The findings of the team, led by Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall and Professor Daan van Aalten from the College of Life Sciences at Dundee, alongside their colleague Professor Cait MacPhee, from the University of Edinburgh, are published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We have determined the structure of the BslA protein, and used the information gained from it to identify the important parts of the protein that are responsible for making the biofilm coat water repellent,” explained Dr Stanley-Wall.

“What we have shown is that this protein is very unusual in its ability to repel water from the environment whilst keeping the bacteria inside the biofilm in optimal conditions. The more we understand how the raincoat assembles the more we can work to encourage this process and increase the effectiveness of Bacillus subtilis as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical fertilizers.”

Bacteria are small, single-celled organisms, which play a variety of roles in nature. Although some types are linked to infection and disease, others are entirely benign and indeed are beneficial, such as those that live side-by side with plants and protect them from disease or those in the gut that are essential for the maintenance of human health.

Although the research centred upon the workings of a single bacterium, it may potentially help scientists to better understand how biofilms formed in the human body become resistant to antibiotics, according to Dr Stanley-Wall.

She continued, “There are possible implications for many different plants and even for human health as the principles guiding the research are the same. If we know how bacteria assemble into a bacterium assembles biofilm then we know how to disrupt it in the case of harmful, or to encourage the growth of good bacteria."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
Turning up the Tap on Microbes Leads to Better Protein Patenting
Mining millions of proteins could become faster and easier with a new technique that may also transform the enzyme-catalyst industry, according to University of California, Davis, researchers.
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
TGAC Announces Milestone in Wheat Research
A more complete and accurate wheat genome assembly is being made available to researchers, by The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) on 12 November 2015.
Shedding Light on the Origin of the Date Palm
Researchers also find ‘genetic mutation’ that is responsible for dates’ color.
New Way to Find DNA Damage
University of Utah chemists devised a new way to detect chemical damage to DNA that sometimes leads to genetic mutations responsible for many diseases, including various cancers and neurological disorders.
Speeding Up Potato Breeding
A joint project is investigating the potential of drones for speeding up the development of new potato varieties.
Gene Editing Could Enable Pig-To-Human Organ Transplant
The largest number of simultaneous gene edits ever accomplished in the genome could help bridge the gap between organ transplant scarcity and the countless patients who need them.
Ancestors of Land Plants Were Wired to Make the Leap to Shore
When the algal ancestor of modern land plants made the transition from aquatic environments to an inhospitable shore 450 million years ago, it changed the world by dramatically altering climate and setting the stage for the vast array of terrestrial life.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos