How Different Salmonella Strains Can Grow Together in the Gut and Exchange Antibiotic Resistance

Two different Salmonella populations (green and red) colonizing the mouse gut lumen at the same time thanks to a single nutrient source difference. 
(Photograph: Ersin Gül / ETH Zurich).

The ability to utilize a mere single alternative food source is all it takes for diarrhea-causing Salmonella bacteria to bloom when a gut is already colonized by a closely related strain, according to researchers from ETH Zurich. This coexistence enables the exchange of antibiotic resistance. Bacteria are growing more resistant to common antibiotics, and one key factor contributing to this problem is the exchange of antibiotic resistance genes between closely related bacterial strains. When these related bacteria come into proximity, they can share information about how to survive antibiotics. Unfortunately, our intestines appear to provide an ideal environment for this exchange to occur. The reasons for this had remained unclear.

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