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How Salmonella grow together in the gut and exchange antibiotic resistance

The ability to utilize a mere single alternative food source is all it takes for diarrhoea 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.

Strain-​specific food preferences enable different Salmonella strains to co-​colonize the gut. (Image: Adobe Stock)

In brief

  • Intestines provide an ideal place for closely related bacteria to exchange vital information such as antibiotic resistance.
  • In theory, bacteria of the same species should consume similar nutrients and thereby block each other’s growth. So, why can different strains co-​exist and exchange DNA?
  • ETH Zurich researchers show that strain-​specific capacities to utilize a “private” nutrient, permits gut co-​colonization by two different Salmonella strains and enables transfer of antibiotic resistance.

ETH News