Bacteria firing toxic bubbles

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Welcome to this week’s chapter of Sarah’s journey through the fantastic bacterial world 🙂

Have I made it clear yet that I am truly amazed by the mechanisms that bacteria evolved to overcome absolutely any hurdle?

Hot around here? No problem, bacteria found repair mechanisms that take care of any cell rubbish that might accumulate after too much heat.

Too cold? Naaah, bacteria know how to modify their cell membrane so the lipids in it won’t solidify…

Today I would like to tell you about another cool mechanism that bacteria use to defend themselves

Before talking about the actual study, I just want to explain another way of how bacteria send stuff into the environment. 

As you might be aware, bacteria come in one of two kinds. They can either have one or two cell membranes. If bacteria have one cell membrane, they are called Gram-positive. If they have two cell membranes, an inner and an outer membrane, they are called Gram-negative bacteria. 

The outer and inner membrane of Gram-negative bacteria are slightly different. Interestingly, the inner membrane of Gram-negative bacteria is the same as the one cell membrane of Gram-positive bacteria. But in Gram-positive bacteria, the one membrane has a lot of stuff on top to make it thicker and sturdier.

Anyway, the cool thing that Gram-negative bacteria can do, is that their outer membrane form “blebs“. These blebs, also called vesicles, eventually form round spheres that completely detach from the membrane and are released into the environment.

outer membrane vesicle formation in Gram-negative bacteria
Gram-negative bacteria can form blebs, which contain parts of the outer membrane.

Read the rest of the article here
Bacteria firing toxic bubbles
the study here
and the summarising highlight article here

Sarah Wettstadt

Science Writer, MicroComms