The bacterial armoury

In many of my previous posts I talked about how bacteria fight each other using one of their many killing devices (for example here or here). I also described a few strategies of how bacteria deliver toxins into competing bacteria (like here or here). And I always say that these toxins are the ones that finally kill the prey bacterium. So the questions I want to answer this week are: what does this toxin do once it reached the prey bacterium? How does a toxin kill a bacterium? And why is the toxin-producing bacterium not killed by the toxin? Please … Continue reading The bacterial armoury

Bacteria firing powerful spikes

This week we will talk about one of my favourite bacterial devices. It is the bacterial killing machine, the type 6 secretion system, that I explained in detail in my very first post Bacteria killing each other. If you don’t remember well what is was, it is worth going back to refresh your memory, as we’re now looking closer into this fascinating nanomachine. This post is based on a journal article which was just published and which I would like to share with you here. It was also the longest and most tedious chapter of my thesis, so I have … Continue reading Bacteria firing powerful spikes

Bacteria changing blood types

In this article I want to talk about a mechanism that, when I read about it, completely fascinated me. Yes, bacteria can still amaze me with their countless abilities to affect almost everything within our body! A new study just found that bacteria are even able to change our blood type! But as always, let’s start with the basics. We have four different blood types based on the sugars that are on the surface of our blood cells (I am not going to talk about rhesus factors here). These sugar blocks are generally called antigens, because they are recognised by … Continue reading Bacteria changing blood types

Tiny Biological Needles: How Some Bacteria Are Able to Infect Their Targets

Hi there! My name is Danny Ward and I am a PhD student at the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Today, I’m going to be telling you a little about what research I am working on, any why it is important. As the title suggests, I work on tiny biological needles. Tiny biological needles? Yes, you did indeed read that correctly! For many, we know that certain bacteria can cause disease but exactly how they are able to infect their targets often remains a mystery. One such system, responsible for promoting bacterial infection, … Continue reading Tiny Biological Needles: How Some Bacteria Are Able to Infect Their Targets