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Encouraging Disorder

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is naturally resistant to most antibiotics, can rapidly evolve, and can even stand upright and walk, says New Scientist's Clare Wilson. Millions of them can join together to overcome a patient's defenses, and the bug's ability to work together is part of the reason why it's so dangerous. And yet, Wilson says, "the real mystery has been why it doesn't kill more of us." That mystery may now be solved, however, and the answer may provide researchers with a clue as to how to defeat antibiotic resistance in other bugs. New research shows that Pseudomonas may be too disorganized to function at maximum efficiency — the Pseudomonas "armies" are often "dominated by cheaters and layabouts, who feast on the spoils of victory but ignore all orders to attack," Wilson says. "These selfish bacteria multiply faster than the obedient ones, resulting in a less aggressive infection." And now, researchers are trying to use this discovery to find ways to defeat other so-called superbugs like MRSA, perhaps by deliberately encouraging the growth of these selfish bacteria strains and injecting them into people. "These discoveries made researchers realize that it might not be necessary to kill bacteria to prevent them harming us," Wilson adds. "Instead, we could just stop them ganging up on us."

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.